Immortality – The Final Dilemma

Scientists are on the brink of discovering the reason why we age and die. The secrets of immortality are soon to be revealed but will the breakthrough lead to the biggest dilemma ever faced by humankind? Who lives and who dies when the earth’s resources simply cannot sustain perpetual birth and immortality. Many believe that scientists already know how to extend peoples lives by decades. The dilemma is who chooses those who will benefit?

The Daily Telegraph of London reports: “Researchers believe boosting the amount of a naturally forming enzyme in the body could prevent cells dying and so lead to extended, healthier life spans”.

Spanish Breakthrough

Scientists have already learned that the protein telomerase helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. These act like the sealed ends of shoelaces that stop them unravelling. As we age, and our cells divide, these caps become frayed and shorten until eventually they become so damaged that the cell dies.

Scientists believe boosting our natural levels of telomerase could rejuvenate them. A team at the Spanish National Cancer Centre in Madrid tested the theory on mice and found those genetically engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase lived 50 percent longer than normal.

Maria Blasco, who led the research, told the New Scientist the enzyme was capable of turning ‘a normal, mortal cell into an immortal cell’. She added that she was optimistic that a similar approach may eventually lead to extended human life spans.

The Apartheid of Human Immortality

Will this next scientific step into the future present mankind with selective immortality? Once some practical form of extending life is discovered it will present an almost insurmountable political and moral impasse. By comparison the debates over abortion and euthanasia will be insignificant. Who will control this new science and most problematic of all decide who gets to be immortal?

Will there be affirmative action quotas; a social engineering experiment, which would be genocide dressed in an altruistic cloak? Will it apply for example to millions of starving Africans? There is compelling argument that there are insufficient natural resources to sustain those millions. Immortality granted will only exacerbate the problem of alternative liquidation by famine. It couldn’t happen? Stalin starved millions so that the economy could be boosted by the export of the grain needed to feed them. In the UK today medical resources are notorious for being allocated by post code. Social engineers too will be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Such a dilemma will cascade down through the castes and social classes inherent in all societies and cultures. There will be arguments and national passions aroused as the faceless unelected decide who are to be preserved and who will be given over so nature may take its course?

The Grim Reaper

For some there will be no escaping the Grim Reaper. But will the educated, the powerful, the influential, be able to buy their way to the top of the queue when the jabs are being rationed? Will a lottery be the answer or perhaps life on earth privileges extended to those who opt to die so that others may live?

Imagine the consequences if political scientists consider some ethnic groups more worthy than are others? Out of the blue mankind is faced by the imponderable contents of a Pandora’s Box from which will explode a far greater threat to mankind than that posed by nuclear weapons. It is a dilemma so problematic that the discovery may well have already been made and the pros and cons already being hammered out behind closed doors.

The War against Women?

There already exists, in the most developed and democratic societies, a pecking order of privilege. Some people are fast-tracked to high position and of course politicians and those in ‘the establishment’ already look after their own. Every year in Britain, and in other countries too, an unelected elite decide who is worthy of public recognition and who is not. Who, when the time comes, decides who is deserving of life and who is not?

On the threshold of the nightmare we realise that fathers, because of their position, could outlive their children and even their grandchildren. Imagine today you have a great-great grandparent who lived until 1822. Had the secret been known back then he might still be alive and in good health though his less privileged children had been dead for nearly one-hundred years.

Parents will live a normal lifespan but one or two of their children may be singled out to live twice as long as their siblings. A son who is a skilled doctor is more valuable to society than his less gifted brother or sister. Will females be considered more productive than men or vice versa?

How will 95 percent of the world’s population react when it finally sinks in that they must die naturally while the wealthy; the elite get to live for centuries longer? Time awaits no man and death has so far been the great leveller. What will happen when this is no longer true; when the rich and powerful no longer have to die while we poor peasants are worked to – death? ©