The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

On the Death of Death

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” No matter if you are a marathon runner, vegetarian, multi-billionaire, or pharaoh of Egypt—death is guaranteed. Death enchants us and forces us to ponder our mortality and the possibilities of reality after our earthly time expires. Death unites us, as billions of people turn towards religion or other communities to find comfort in the idea of their passing. Death betters us, as we look inwards and ask if we are truly becoming the best versions of ourselves. After thousands of years of human history during which we have written about death, tried and failed to circumnavigate death, and prepared for our own deaths, technology has advanced to a point where a potential world exists—one without death. 

Death has existed forever, and no creature has ever been exempt from it (barring one species of jellyfish). It’s the natural end to the cycle of life: an older generation leaves as a fresh one comes into the world. But what if every person could live far past the current average lifespan of about 70 years? What if people could live to 150, or 200, or even forever? Is it possible? Would it make for  a better world?

There is an age-old question: “Would you rather die immediately, or live for eternity?” At first glance, the former seems unpickable. The prospect of not doing anything again, not saying goodbye to loved ones, or not experiencing the simple privileges of life is horrifying. However, the latter choice presents a mind-boggling reality that could be even worse. 

Eternity is long. Really long. You will live the normal amount of time, then just keep on living. You will outlive all of your loved ones, and every single person that you meet along your endless journey. There won’t be much purpose, as nothing you do will matter in the grand scheme of infinity. Eventually, you will outlive the Earth, and maybe even see the eventual heat-death of the universe. There you will be, all alone, forever. Sorry for the grim picture, but it is necessary in the discussion of increasing lifespan.

A key point that differentiates that scenario from a potential longer life for every human on earth is that it will be available for everyone. 200 years, or infinity for that matter, isn’t as long if everyone you care about is with you. In that case, living extra time could be a blessing, giving you more time to spend with the ones you love and experience more things in your life. In this train of thought, support for this treatment would be overwhelmingly positive. However, the discussion has been largely theoretical to this point, and application to the real world needs a lot of thought. 

The first main obstacle of implementing anti-aging would be the limits of present-day technology. While we continue to advance at lightning speed, the technology to slow down the aging process or stop it completely just doesn’t exist. Not to mention, there is a very real possibility that technology will never reach a point advanced enough for anti-aging. However, our ancestors saw the moon as unreachable, and now we have plans to colonize it. It’s safe to say that anything is possible. 

Beyond technological boundaries, there are feasibility issues of longer life. For one, the population of Earth will skyrocket, as people will take longer to die and likely have a larger window for having kids. Overpopulation is already an issue in many parts of the world, so having a booming population growth would lead to massive problems. Agriculture would need to expand heavily to support an already hunger-stricken population, and there would need to be more places for people to live. On top of that, job opportunities would likely become scarce unless the economy continues to grow at the rate the population does, which is unlikely considering the current state of workforce growth. Not to mention, environmental impacts of having to support such a large population are hard to estimate. However, if there were more cars for more commuters, more deforestation to make room for a higher population, more factory pollution to increase clothing production, and more livestock farming for increased food production— it’s likely the effects would be nightmarish.

So for now, the idea of a doubled or immortal lifespan will remain largely theoretical, at least until the proper technology is developed and we are sure humanity can continue to prosper. Maybe we’ll set up an alternative society on Mars, or have AI solve the problem for us. For now, it’s anyone’s guess, but there is a very good chance that it could become reality.

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About the Contributor
Liam Tenenbaum, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Liam Tenenbaum ('25) is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Echo. He enjoys writing satire based and opinionated journalism. He enjoys skiing competitively, traveling the world, trying new food, and watching sports games.