Ecolongevity: connecting Open Lifespan with Ecological Thought

Interesting thing happened with ecological thought and green political philosophy in the last couple of years: it became mainstream. It might have something to do with all the strange earthly things lots of humans experienced in these years from heat waves to droughts, from floods to smogs. 

Earlier I posted several posts and mini-studies to connect ecological thought to the main study of this book blog, the philosophical investigation of longevity. 

Today I’d like to debut the term ecolongevity to refer to these connections between Open Lifespan philosophy and Ecological Thought and to summarise some of them. The scope of connections is stretching from the theoretical, conceptual, aesthetical level to practical and political philosophy. Since it is  summary, the pointers are brief, some of them not detailed so far will be elaborated later. 

Humans are holobionts, complex ecosystems by themselves. Individual humans are environmental, humans are environments. We have learned an awful lot in the last decade in the biomedical sciences about the human host body and its permanent microbial guests. These bacteria, virus and fungi combined with the totality of human cells, tissues and organs seem to form an autonomous unit of biological organisation. Please see Holobionts and their hologenomes: Evolution with mixed modes of inheritance and Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us?

Humans are parts of the planetary environment. Humans are not just separate environments themselves but are parts of the bigger planetary environment ecological thinking usually operates on. And they play an increasing and bigger part as sub-environments. If current Earth is a complete lego set, humans are one kind of basic building blocks.

Sustainability reconfigured: Sustainable human lives over a long period of time are the ones where the damage done by biological aging is continuously counteracted by biomedical technologies. Sustainable human lives are parts & parcels of sustainable environment. Sustainability should work for the whole and for the parts too.

Biology: Both ecology and longevity/aging are a branch of biology. Biological insights find their way into philosophical considerations on both topics. This is more of a shallow methodological connection.

Analogies: Productive analogies between philosophical investigations of ecology, environmental entities and longevity. Open Life, ie. human lives with open-ended, indefinite healthy lifespans can be investigated conceptually as Hyperobjects. Hyperobjects were introduced by Timothy Morton as ‘things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans’ to characterise ecological processes like global warming amongst others as part of ecological thinking and speculative realism. Turns out Open Lifespan can be analysed with the hyperobject vocabulary in a deep way, please see 2 posts here.

Guardian argument, ent politics: Open Lifespan provides the chance for humans to become Global Humans. Please see: Open Lifespan & ecological awareness: scaling up to become global humans. If one’s potential lifespan gets close to the time-scale of many big environmental processes then human ecological awareness might reach a new level as full ecological responsibility can be taken for the things you do. From this point of view Open Healthspan technology can be considered and desired as a mighty enabler of ecological thought as by achieving this aim you get to act on previously unprecedented timescales, you get to act like a fully, environmentally responsible human being. At 1000 year old with a pretty good chance you are going to be amongst the Guardians of the Galaxy. And at 1001 even more so.

Direct Political Triggers. The Green New Deal document was a trigger and inspiration for me to start working on a foundational document on World Longevity I call the Grey New Deal. Please see here: Towards a Grey New Deal: Longevity World Resolution. It’s not just grey as in grey hair but more importantly it is grey as in ‘grey area’. It is currently uncertain how far we are going to be able to push human health- and lifespan with the help of biomedical and any other kind of technology. Hence, the prospect is indefinite both as in we might get stuck earlier than expected or we might get much farther away than ever predicted by our best estimations. We just genuinely don’t know. But push we certainly can and will, in every which way.

So far, so good. The differences, disconnections are worth another post.