Today I’m fifty and if I make it to the average life expectancy for a man of my age and lifestyle then I’ve got 31 years left. 31.16 to be precise – I just checked on an app. Giving up smoking before forty and jogging three times a week gave the additional 0.16. Thought it would be more than that.
If I’m feeling optimistic then it could stretch out to as much as another 66 years, given that the verified oldest age reached by a man was 116 (my gender doesn’t fare well – oldest man comes in after 15 women according to Wikipedia). If I’m feeling pessimistic I could get run over by a bus tomorrow.
As you can probably tell I’m not feeling terribly optimistic (who does on their fiftieth birthday?) but not entirely pessimistic either having spent a rather wonderful day in the company of a group of people who are planning to save the world, and they just might do it, through switching everyone to a plant based diet through the rather obvious solution of making it absolutely delicious. If you have five minutes then check out Food For Progress and Oumph – worth a look.
So, let’s stick with the 31 years – 2048. What might I live to see if I make it that far?
Well for starters, the end of the internal combustion engine. As a Formula 1 fan it will pain me to see it go, but go it must. Hopefully I’ll live in a London where I can smell the blossom in spring on the busiest of streets and enjoy a drink in a pavement café with nothing more distracting than the quiet hum of electric pods gliding by.
And they’ll be driverless – so there won’t be any traffic accident or fatalities.
It’s entirely possible that every spark I use will have been generated by renewable power (and that hopefully the foundations for Hinkley C will remain just that, and have been turned into a skate park – as we found out this week offshore wind is not only prettier and greener, but also much cheaper)
The products I buy might well be made using negative emission technologies meaning every time I buy one I’m helping to suck even more CO2 out of the air.
I suspect we’ll be looking back at eating meat with some nostalgia, more probably horror, as we all tuck into plant based meals with bite and taste that don’t cost the earth.
I’ll possibly be given early warning of my impending demise, potentially even delaying it a little further, through implants that’ll pick-up conditions in good time to treat them before they pass the point of no return. Actually, not reaching the point of mild discomfort would be even better please.
And the medicine I take to do that will be tailored to my genetic code to ensure it hits the spot first time.
We’re likely to have stopped using our oceans as a gigantic slurry lagoon and rubbish dump, and may even be using a tiny fraction of their volume to produce food meaning there’s enough space left on land to support rich biodiversity. Maybe better – bio abundance?
If I do make it to 81 there’s a good chance I’ll also live to see the end of poverty and malnutrition, of major disease epidemics and of many types of life threatening non communicable diseases.
All this and we’ll have a flourishing colony on Mars. But no hover bikes – sadly.
So, as I sit on the train to the airport in Sweden, on balance, I’m feeling optimistic. I’m not naïve. I know the huge challenges that lie ahead, and that prattling on about how optimistic you feel when we’ve got nuclear stand offs in Korea, hurricanes in the Caribbean and a US president who can’t quite seem to bring himself to come out against racial hatred seems ridiculous, but I genuinely think that our best days lie ahead if we all put our shoulder to the wheel and help make it happen.
And I’ve just discovered that when you get the airport train into Stockholm you get welcomed to the city by a taped welcome message by Bjorn from Abba. Even if I do get run over by a bus tomorrow, I’ll have lived to have heard that.