Everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat is getting better
Guest Post By: Sergey Young
Sergey Young is a Longevity Expert and Founder of the $100 million Longevity Vision Fund (one of the top longevity-focused funds on the globe) and the man who – after a personal health scare threatening his life expectancy – is dedicated to identifying, funding, and accelerating the most promising breakthroughs in life-extension technology to make them accessible and affordable for all.
If you’re tuned into the 24-hour news cycle, there’s a good chance you feel like the world is ending. Every day, we’re barraged by headlines spewing significant pessimism and fear-mongering about the future—politically, environmentally, and everything in between. But while it’s good to be informed about the world and indisputable that humankind has challenges to hack and hurdles to overcome, it’s also true that the news simply isn’t primed for optimism. Thus, what I’m about to tell you won’t be heard on CNN or read in the Washington Post. The truth is that we are on the cusp of a longevity revolution, and the environment is actually getting fundamentally safer and longevity-friendly.
Longevity, for those less familiar, refers to the average lifespan of the population or the highest age attainable by one of its members. So in the simplest terms, a longevity revolution means we’ll all be living longer—a reason for optimism if I’ve ever heard one. Let me guess: you’re skeptical. I’m not surprised. That’s why I’m going to spell out a quick sample of ways the environment, from the air we breathe to the food we eat, is actually getting more conducive to living longer, happier, healthy lives.
The world is getting greener—literally
China and India are the world’s most populous countries, each with over 1.3 billion people, and they’re leading the way in improving the environment thanks to intensive agriculture, tree-planting programs, and a turn towards renewable energy. Because of their size, any initiatives undertaken by China and India have an outsized impact on our longevity—great news for Planet Earth and its human inhabitants. Don’t take it from me, though. Take it from NASA. A recent NASA study based on satellite imagery found that Earth’s green leaf area has increased by five percent since the early 2000’s—an uptrend equivalent to adding green areas the size of all the Amazon rainforests! A third of that increase is attributable to the two countries being discussed here. More specifically, China has undertaken an ambitious tree-planting program, while China and India have both vastly ramped up their agriculture.
That’s not all, though. China is also set to become the world’s renewable energy superpower, while the International Energy Agency predicts that renewable energy will comprise 40 percent of global power generation by 2040. Renewable energy like wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems generate electricity with no associated air pollution. This is particularly relevant to the overlooked longevity revolution, as air and water pollution caused by coal and natural gas have been linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, cancer, premature death, and a host of other issues. A study from Harvard University estimates the life cycle and public health costs of coal to be $74.6 billion every year. Meanwhile, one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease can be attributed to air pollution. No wonder the World Health Organization doesn’t mince any words, writing point blank that it’s “destroying our health.” Thus, a turn towards renewable energy means the renewal of human health in the process—a harbinger of greater longevity.
Humans will no longer be behind the wheel
It’s not rocket science that living longer can be achieved by preventing premature death, as the discussion about pollution already alluded to. That brings us to the second way the world is getting safer. Each year, close to 1.25 million people die in car crashes—nearly 3,300 people per day. In the United States alone, 40,000 people die from driving each year and 2 million are injured, while crashes are the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29. In 94 percent of fatal road crashes, human error is a major contributing factor. The solution is pretty simple: eliminate human error, eliminate most of these deaths.
That’s where self-driving cars come in. Also known as driverless or autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars combine sensors and software to control, navigate, and drive the vehicle—removing humans and their many errors from the equation and the road. Already, tech giants like Tesla, Google, and Uber, and major automakers like GM are involved in the race to develop fully autonomous vehicles … which will make the driving environment safer for everyone.
Food, the best medicine, is getting even better according to Sergey
The majority of scientists agree that restricting calories can promote longevity—some say by improving sleep, some by decreasing free radicals. More generally, it’s hardly a secret that a carefully maintained diet can often be the best medicine. To that end, the rise of plant-based foods helps the environment while also presenting the opportunity for more people to consume healing, functional substances as opposed to harmful ones. The arrival of foods that mimic the taste and texture of popular products like meat, eggs, and fish will allow more people to embrace this lifestyle without feeling like they are sacrificing traditions or dishes they love.
A prime example of this trend is the company Beyond Meat, which creates “meat” directly from plants. Its popularity was encapsulated by its stellar debut on the public market: the company was valued at $1.5 billion heading into its IPO, but its market cap topped $5.5 billion after the first trading day and, by the start of June, was north of $10 billion—ten times the market cap of fast-food chain Shake Shack. Regardless of what happens with Beyond Meat’s stock in the coming months, such optimism is symbolic of the larger trend of plant-based consumption—another revolutionary shift that will help us all be a bit healthier. These are just three examples, too, of how the environment is becoming safer and more conducive to long-lasting lives. Add in other areas like technology and economics, and believing in the coming longevity revolution should be common sense, despite the persistent negativity of the news.
Medicine is becoming more personalized
While food is the best medicine, it can’t prevent or cure every disease. Thus, having a good healthcare environment, as those in the industry call it, is also crucial to extending our longevity. Overall, healthcare and medicine are becoming more personalized thanks to wearable devices,
artificial intelligence, and everything in between. Wearables, for one, are extremely affordable, allowing us to gather more data that can be used to offer better disease diagnostics, prevention, and treatment. The Apple Watch, for instance, now includes features ranging from an ECG to fall detection and heart rate monitoring, while the Oura Ring collects highly accurate data about the body, including blood temperature and blood volume pulse. This information is crucial for consumers and doctors alike. Already, many people are using them to take a more proactive, personalized approach to health.
AI can also help doctors better diagnose patients, which can be crucial for catching diseases early and more effectively treating them. IBM’s supercomputer Waston, for instance, has consumed 2 million pages containing 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, in addition to 25,000 training cases, and 14,700 hours of clinical training. Those numbers continue to climb, too. This information has helped Watson successfully diagnose lung cancer 90% of the time—a rate far superior to doctors working without AI technology. These are just two examples of ways technology is helping doctors provide far better care—care that will save and extend lives.
Crime is moving off the streets
Crime, especially violent crime, continues to make headlines; “if it bleeds, it leads” is a common expression, referring to the tendency of news outlets to over-emphasize fear-mongering events like murder. But despite continued consistent coverage of crime, our environments are actually getting safer writ large, in part because criminals are moving into cyberspace. While the risks of online fraud, in its many forms, are real, physical safety is crucial to health.
Now, people are 200 times more likely to be victims of cyber identity theft than of a physical robbery. Put another way, 1 in every 5 people have suffered the online form of stealing, while only 1 in 1,160 have suffered the latter. These figures can be accounted to both the rise in cyber crime and a decrease in “traditional” crime. The “great American crime decline,” as famed criminologist Frank Zimring put it, began in the 1990s. Between 1993 and 2018, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. fell by 51 percent. This has a tremendous snowball effect, as fear of crime shapes people’s lives in dramatic ways. Research shows that children respond to the stress of community violence—and stress, of course, has been linked to longevity. More specifically, childhood trauma, such as violence, has been shown to shorten lives by two decades. A decline of violent crime, then, is yet another proof point that the length and quality of our lives is indeed improving.
Article Written By: Sergey Young
Sergey Young // NYC + London
Sergey Young is a longevity visionary and investor, who initially made his name delivering above-average returns as an investor and fund manager with over $2 billion in AUM in technology and classical companies. Sergey’s investment experience in human longevity, digital healthcare, online education, and real estate technologies spans over 20 years, making him one of the most qualified experts in this field. Sergey went on to co-found the NY-based Peak State Ventures fund in 2016, followed by the $100 million Longevity Vision Fund in 2019 – one of the first longevity-focused funds, dedicated to Sergey’s mission: to identify, fund, and accelerate the most promising breakthroughs in life-extension technology to make them accessible and affordable for all.
Apart from being an active and successful investor, Sergey is actively involved with several non-profit organizations that strive for social and cultural development. He is Development Sponsor of Longevity XPRIZE and Innovation Board Member at XPRIZE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that designs and manages public competitions intended to encourage technological development in biotech and life extension that could benefit humanity. To read more about Sergey and the Longevity Vision Fund, please visit www.lvf.vc