I encourage all of you to take a long, hard look at the reality of your own health and aging in the decades to come. At present levels of medical technology your future is a grim picture: there's nothing dignified, romantic or pretty about aging to death. If medical technology advances at a sedate pace, that grim picture might be put off for a few years - but it's still there, your own personal sword of Damocles.
In past eras, this was a matter to come to terms with as best you could. Fortunately, human beings are very good at living amidst the worst horrors; we'd all go mad if this were not the case. But we are now entering the decades of ever more powerful biotechnology and advanced medicine - decades in which the root causes of aging can be fully understood and effectively tackled. Our aptitude for living with the vast, ongoing suffering and death of aging is now working against us, leading to a lack of support for positive change and research into the defeat of aging:
Think about it for a moment: if I described the physical signs and eventual prognosis of aging to you, but you didn't know how old the person was that I was talking about, would you seriously consider the condition to be something nobody should look into addressing medically? Aging takes a healthy, vigorous person and saddles them with progressively increasing susceptibility to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, joint problems, overall weakness, and immune dysfunction and eventually kills that person. Without fail.
Yet it is now the case that the right scientific programs backed by the right levels of funding could greatly extend the healthy human life span rapidly enough for us to benefit. We know enough to get started - this is not a time for modest goals and conservatism. This is a time to unleash the full potential of the biotechnology revolution on the cause of more death and misery than anything else in this world: age-related degeneration.
Folk like you and I don't have to stand on the sidelines and hope for more results, or for more scientists to get to work. Organizations like the Methuselah Foundation offer powerful ways for us to band together and fund or encourage effective research into defeating aging. The MPrize for longevity research is the best present way for you to place a dollar in the pot to inspire many more dollars of aging research funding. People like you and I have already pledged millions to this cause, and in doing so are changing the world.
Those folk new to the Methuselah Foundation community, healthy life extension or the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence might not realize that it is only very recently that scientists have felt able to talk seriously about tackling age-related degeneration. For the longest time it has been the case that discussing therapies for aging was the "instant death third rail of grantsmanship" as one researcher wittily put it. Funding in science is a very conservative process, taking place within a very conservative culture; aging research is no exception.
We at the Methuselah Foundation like to think that Foundation initiatives - powered by the generosity of our donors - have moved the boundaries of the discussion in the past few years. In this, we have helped to provide cover for scientists in the gerontology community to say openly what they have been willing to say in private all along - that science can defeat aging, and we should get started as soon as possible. The first step on any road is to be able to talk about the destination without risk of censure - it is a shame that is has taken so long and so much effort to get to this point.
So take a moment to look at just how much could be done for the future of your health and longevity - and step up to donate to make it happen. How many people throughout history have really, truly had a chance to band together to buy additional years of healthy life? Yet this is exactly where we stand today; we can buy research that will extend our healthy life spans.
Think about it. You can't take your money with you when aging claims your life, after all. In donating to encourage and fund ambitious, directed longevity research, you have nothing to lose but your mortality.