Your behaviour is unsuitable
It’s nothing personal. We’re good at living short and brutal lives. Indeed we’ve even codified an approach to life that ameliorates the shortness and brutalness: ‘Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’.
Today, lives are not short and brutal. We do not roam the lush plains of the Omo River near the Kenya-Ethiopia boarder in groups of twenty just trying to stay alive, like we did 195,000 years ago.
However, the unsuitability today of tactics derived yesterday is a cause for celebration rather than a commiseration; it is the effect of living longer, healthier lives.
So how long? How different? How much change in life expectancy has there really been? Bring on the facts.
“Life expectancy has been increasing by about 2.5 years per decade, that’s three months per year, six hours per day.”
And this has been happening in England since 1850 – the dawn of industrialisation.
195,000 years. Those that are of retirement age today are pretty-much the grandchildren of Victorians – the architects of this great leap forward in life expectancy. Evolutionarily speaking 162 years is only the blink (of a blink, of a blink), of an eye.
“…most babies born since 2000 in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan, and other countries with long life expectancies will celebrate their 100th birthdays”
This is extraordinary, no? And the authors are confident the ageing process is modifiable to the point where we will live long without severe disability.
We have a phenomenally speedy increase in life expectancy coupled with quality of life.
If you ever wanted a one-line ‘pub fact’ that gets to the heart of this change, one evocation we can attribute to the researchers from the popular BBC TV show ‘QI’ – who call themselves the ‘QI elves’ – tweeted this recently:
“Of all the people in the world who have ever lived to be 65, two-thirds are alive today.”
Evolutionarily speaking, we are ancient creatures living in modern times – thousands of years of short and brutal lives have left us with techniques that less and less relevant.
It’s no wonder we’re no good at saving for pensions, huh?