To Age or Not to Age

Time/CNN recently published an article about scientists who are trying to figure out the “peter pan” gene. They are trying to understand how to slow down and even cease the aging process. While this sounds like a very cool idea I have to wonder if this is a good idea. I think we must ask the simple question, “Should we?”

We come face to face with issues regarding global climate change which is in part due to world population growth. Sustainability is also a buzz word that we hear on an almost daily basis. We must find ways to use natural resources in such a way that we can sustain their use over the long term. We are told that by living longer we are making this more difficult. What if we are able to unnaturally extend the lives of people? What would this mean for our world?

I think that it is time for us to slow down and begin asking some questions about the effects of our endeavors. Wendell Berry in his collection of essays called Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community often says that as we seek to find solutions through science we will inevitably create even more problems. I think that this is often true. When it comes to any scientific and technological “breakthroughs” we must determine their value not only based on the immediate impact but also on the ramifications of the breakthrough.

What do you think? How do we answer the question of “should we?”