General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

If life expectancy were to increase, where would people live and what would they eat?

Asked by elbanditoroso (31943points) 1 month ago

Suppose for a moment that medical science made it possible for people to live 25% longer on average – instead of most people dying in their 70s or 80s, the were able to live until age 100 or more.

(Whether that’s desirable for, or desired by, the person is a different question.)

So within a generation or so, world population would move from 7.8 billion (what it is now) to roughly 9.5 billion people.

- where would they all live? We have housing challenges in the US now, and also in the rest of the world.

- what would they eat? Starvation and food distribution are already issues, all over the world and increasingly in the US.

- would social welfare programs (social insurance in most of Europe, Social Security in the US) change to reflect the increased longevity of recipients?

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51 Answers

cookieman's avatar

This is the problem now.

100 years ago, in 1922, the average life expectancy was 58 for men and 61 for women (U.S,)

Today, it’s 79 (average, U.S,).

That’s about a 32% increase.

How have your points been handled over the last century?

Not too well, by my estimation. At least in the U.S. (for example) there is a real problem with the cost and quality of elder care and the impact on quality of life of the elder and their immediate family.

kritiper's avatar

Your question is a Catch-22 paradox. Living quarters, food and fresh water will all be issues when the world’s population levels off, sometime after the turn of this century, according to a UN report.

Zaku's avatar

The limits in the US in recent decades have been much more about economics than supply. There are empty houses and many tons of food thrown away. The more the economic system breaks down, the fewer people will be able to remain solvent.

(E.g. Even people doing relatively well can be financially wiped out by the insane costs of a hospital visit or two, or a lawsuit.)

But the planet as a whole, yes overpopulation is a problem (as industrialized humans do all sorts of damage to the environment), as are worldwide economic breakdowns.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was in my teens I read a sci-fi book that had vertical cities. I vaguely remember it. Huge buildings with work places, shopping, and residential. This allowed for a lot of the land around the buildings to be agricultural to help feed the masses.

Now, I think there would be more emphasis on hydroponic crops, and recently someone asked a Q about 3D printed steak.

Anyway, the answer is probably smaller living quarters and vertical living, and innovations in agriculture.

Water is becoming a big problem in some places, which has to be addressed. Places with drought need to stop with using water unnecessarily, like to keep lawns pretty. Recycling water is very possible now, that just takes money and infrastructure, or better options for people to recycle their own water. Many cities do use reclaimed water for lawns, which is a good start, or retention ponds near housing. I think recycled water could also be used for toilets, but I don’t think that’s being done anywhere? It’s just irrigation systems as far as I know.

Some of these things should be led by the government I think, but definitely in combination with private industry. There are all sorts of opportunities to solve the anticipated problems.

Not to mention Americans eat too much, and we throw out a ton of food.

When covid hit Florida had an over abundance of summer squashes. I heard some of the crop was rotting in fields. I thought to myself there needs to be some sort of mobile unit that can freeze or bottle extra crops of fruits and veggies. A way to preserve extra crops when shipping them for sale to other locations isn’t an option.

JLeslie's avatar

Sorry for a second post. Just thinking about @Zaku’s answer. There are cities around the US and other parts of the world that offer all sorts of incentives to live there to revive the economy. Some pay you $10k-$30k ish, to move there.

Here’s an article.

rebbel's avatar

What bugs me is that we go from “70, 80” to “over 100” with a “25%” increase factor.

HP's avatar

The speculation on increasing life expectancy ignores the crucial point that the increase is unlikely to apply to most of us. There are hot spots in the world where life expectancy is currently on the decline. Russia for instance. But most troubling in my mind is what is happening in the places which should be best equipped to render the world tolerable to more of us living longer. And I mean this country in particular with its dismal and declining ability to provide equitable conditions for all of us here. Our slapped together health insurance setup designed with profit as its primary function is yielding the statistics you might expect for those without money. Our infant mortality rate, for example, is now higher than that of Cuba or Costa Rica. And the trend toward dismal statistics must only increase as the mean standard of living declines in the richest formerly most promising nation in the history of the world. The failure in this country to acknowledge that we, (and by we, I mean the entire planet) no longer are allowed the luxury of ignoring the problems elsewhere on the globe—problems guaranteed to destroy us all. And the ramping up in the country of ever increasing political absurdity in the face of pressing environmental threats is just one of the harbingers of doom visible to all who care to look. What would you guess the chances are for YOUR grandkids?

WhyNow's avatar

Good question and (may I say) excellent writing standards.

The bulk of longevity research is ‘quality of life’ at age issues. Getting older as
well as maintaining good physical and mental health.

Where would they live? Density is a huge modern housing problem. The important
thing is that the US remain a welcoming sanctuary country and not let trifling
issues as housing cause border concern.

What would they eat? Maybe converting millions of acres to grow low quality corn
for use as biofuel was a bad idea BUT remember… climate change is a more
immanent danger then starvation.

Social Security… is a government agency and (writing standards trigger) the
government can’t do shit.

Forever_Free's avatar

This is today’s issue. Granted Covid dropped the life expectancy for the first time since WWII.

Kelp, Urban spread with local sustainable food.

kritiper's avatar

@JLeslie Having recycled water available for toilet flushing would require twice as many water lines going to houses. Too much cost!

janbb's avatar

@kritiper The Japanese have sinks that recycle hand washing water for toilet flushing. Many countries other than the USA have come up with energy efficient and clever ways to reduce waste.

My gut feeling is that with continuing pandemics, climate crises and wars, life expectancy and population will go down but living standards and class divides will increase.

Forever_Free's avatar

@kritiper This is going to be crucial to the future availability of water. It is already happening now.

zenvelo's avatar

As a side note on this topic, Soylent Green takes place in 2022.

janbb's avatar

@zenvelo Mighty tasty too!

kritiper's avatar

The more people there are on this planet, the more problems will arise. It is only a matter of time.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

We will be eating algae and only the richest 1% will have an apartment that we have now or normal food; that we are taking for granted now.
Cockroaches will be a delicacy for the super rich.

WhyNow's avatar

I wish you didn’t say arise Mr. Kritiper… Didn’t you see the movies Arise of the
planet of the apes?!

WhyNow's avatar

Crunchy Cockroach Casserole with a large coke.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@WhyNow Not Coke but Mr. Pibbs, or Zellers coke. Or generic coke, or generic cola.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@WhyNow Also the Crunchy Cockroach Casserole with be cold and the cola warm. Ovens and refrigerator’s will be for the top 0.01%. For Presidents, kings, and CEO’s. Cold cola and real food would be a status symbol; Like private jets, and expensive wines are now. 1999 Coke-a-cola is a good year.

RayaHope's avatar

I don’t know if this is helpful but I have heard the USA wastes about 40% of the food it produces right now. I don’t think food production is the problem, more like wasting it is.

kritiper's avatar

@RayaHope Blame the rich for the most part. I was raised in a family of 10 and I was told to always clean my plate. (Not much ever went to waste in OUR house!)

RayaHope's avatar

^^ I see what you are saying and that makes sense. But I have had some bad experiences with that kind of treatment when I was little. If I couldn’t finish my plate I was made to sit at the table until I did or worse.

JLeslie's avatar

@kritiper I don’t see how that helps to be force fed. Great if it’s an appropriate amount of calories for you, but if it’s too many you just get fat instead of throwing the food out. The starving people still don’t get the extra food your parents purchased.

Brian1946's avatar

Soylent Green goes great with Friend Fries. ;p

seawulf575's avatar

I think humans are wired to start acting differently as population increases. They get a little loonier, start thinking bad ideas are good, there is more social issues like gangs and child abandonment, and all this eventually leads to a big war to reduce the population. Not sure that worrying where the excess population would live would be an issue.

kritiper's avatar

@JLeslie There was never enough food to feed all of us to the point of some being wasted. Dad was a teacher and Mom was a stay-at-home mother, so money was always an issue.

zenvelo's avatar

@Brian1946 It’s finger-licking good! :)

JLeslie's avatar

@kritiper That’s a different thing, so you were probably hungry at the table, she just wanted you all to sit still and eat. By contrast, a lot of children are over fed, and to most children it feels like abuse or torture to have to eat when you aren’t hungry when you are little.

janbb's avatar

@kritiper My Ex’s family was in a similar situation. One breadwinner, 5 kids and a Nana. Mum dished out the food in the kitchen and you were glad to eat what you were given!

canidmajor's avatar

@Brian1946 With Baked Alaskans for dessert?

chyna's avatar

@kritiper I know exactly what you are talking about. We were pretty poor (but I didn’t realize it because everyone around us were in the same boat). My dad worked 3 jobs and my mom was a stay at home mom. There were 4 of us kids and 2 more half brother and sister all summer. The reason they made us eat what was on our plates was because that was all we were getting. There were no chips and dip, ice cream, etc. if you didn’t eat dinner, you waited until breakfast. No one was fat in those days.

JLeslie's avatar

My SIL was a thin petite girl, and she was made to finish her food. There was a time when she was attending school that her mom told the nun to make sure she ate all her food for lunch. She went through months of throwing up almost every day, because it was too much for her little body. She wasn’t bulimic, she was just being given (forced to eat) too much food. You don’t have to be heavy to indicate you are being given too much food. Her brothers would sometimes help her finish her plate behind her moms back so to speak.

RayaHope's avatar

I may be the exception here but I was forced to eat everything on my plate. If I didn’t or couldn’t I was made fun of, yelled at, and called bad names. Even slapped and made to sit at the table for hours and then made to stand in time out (in a corner) until I couldn’t stand anymore. Then put into bed and was told not to come downstairs until school the next day.

WhyNow's avatar

I gave the cook a few bucks to say I ate.

janbb's avatar

@RayaHope That sounds very abusive!

RayaHope's avatar

@janbb I now know that it was but back then I just thought that was the way it was for everyone. My little young mind didn’t know any better and my parents were very strict about wasting stuff. Even if it was what they gave me, I never asked for it. My stomach and body could not eat everything and they didn’t want to hear any excuses. Once I threw up right at the table and I was, oh I was punished so bad. Eating was one thing I did not look forward to and it terrified me.

janbb's avatar

@RayaHope I understand.

Brian1946's avatar

@RayaHope ITA with @janbb that was very abusive!

Didn’t you say that you now live with your mother?
If so, does she still try to force you to eat?

WhyNow's avatar

@RayaHope Terrible thing you went thru. I think it is important now you clearly
understand what a normal relationship is. Don’t fall for an abusive one.

RayaHope's avatar

@Brian1946 My mom, dad, and I are still seeing a therapist but not as often as we used to. Things were really bad for quite a while. As you can imagine, we have worked through a lot of stuff. I have forgiven my dad because I had to or I may not be able to go on. He still has visitation and has changed for the better. My mom did not abuse me so much but she is more of a passive-aggressive person but she is trying hard to make it work. She was afraid to stick up for us because she didn’t want to get hurt. Personally, I would have never allowed my child to endure those horrific kinds of things that I did. I would die to help my child. It is very complicated and I don’t think I have the smarts to explain everything quite right. I want to become a much better person than my parents were to me. I want to help people

janbb's avatar

@RayaHope You are an amazing young woman. Keep on keeping on!

WhyNow's avatar

@janbb ” Keep on keeping on!” that’s what jazz people say to each other.

Poseidon's avatar

Life expectancy is increasing virtually annually.

In the 1900 the average lifespan was 46.6 years and in 2020 the average lifespan was over 79 years.

One of the main reasons for this is the medical advances.

WhyNow's avatar

@Poseidon Also quality of life is getting better at older years.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Furistic cities would have domed areas for food agriculture,production and so on, all this on earth and most like experimental in these early stages then move on to other planets to live on.
I read somewhere that we can live to 128 years old or more after all robotics and artifical body replacements would enable this.
Somewhere I also read that Moses lived to be 300 years old..if true prepare for a very long life.
Although the Government would eventually look after that for us by a standard wage /pension.

Inspired_2write's avatar
Vertical farms will replace they way we produce food in the future.

zenvelo's avatar

@Inspired_2write Somewhere I also read that Moses lived to be 300 years old.

If you are going to start citing things from the Pentateuch as fact, better fact check. Moses died on Mount Nebo before the Israelites made it out of the desert.

elbanditoroso's avatar

And methusaleh supposedly lived 989 years, Now divide by 12 989/12 = 82, which is more likely.

My guess is that the bible counts months as years.

WhyNow's avatar

@Inspired_2write Love the Moses reference. Because jewish scholars have an
interpenetration as to why Moses would live such a long life… (not how long)
because he lived a life of purpose! His people needed him. I know and hear of
people who retire and sadly don’t live long beyond that.

Also my great grandfather lived into his late 90s, 6’2”, strong as a bull! He passed
away 2 months after my great grandmother Masha died.

Sometimes the secret to a long life is more than a fact check. It is just being a human.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Sorry it wasn’t Moses but rather Methuselah who ived 969 years old.
Others lived long lives near that age as well in this article citing Gensis etc

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