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We’re All Living Longer, Despite What The Experts Say!

March 8, 2017

By Paul Homewood



If we were to  believe the experts who warn us about all the things we are dying from, we would probably all be dead three times over!

Whether it’s air pollution, alcohol, obesity, diabetes, smoking, NHS funding, climate change, and goodness knows what else, the warnings are invariably dire.

The reality however is that death rates have been coming down for decades, and people are living longer than ever before:





Globally the picture is just the same:




There are almost endless reasons for all of this, but one thing is absolutely clear. Longer, healthier lives are the product of modern society.

And , as we know, we would not have the benefits of a modern, developed society without an abundant supply of fossil fuels.

The world is not a perfect place, never has been and never will be. But it is clearly moving in the right direction.

  1. AlecM permalink
    March 8, 2017 6:49 pm

    Well, bu$$er me. As a baby-boomer I should have been dead by now……….

    Buy more diesel cars folks!

  2. John Palmer permalink
    March 8, 2017 7:34 pm

    Good post (as per usual), Paul. However…

    “The world is not a perfect place, never has been and never will be. But it is clearly moving in the right direction.”

    Only if we can stop these misanthropic, anti-free market, rent-seeking troughers. If they ever got even remotely near achieving their goals, you’d see the exact mirror-images of your two graphs. We’d be back to near-medieval living standards and life expectancy would in reality become death-expectancy.

    BTW.. shouldn’t there be quotation marks around the ‘experts’ mentioned in the headline?

    Keep up the good work!

  3. David Richardson permalink
    March 8, 2017 8:11 pm

    I guess most people are either half-full or half-empty types by nature.

    Some folks genuinely find optimism difficult to cope with. I remember parents in the 1950’s commiting suicide, taking the children with them, to avoid facing the possibility of nuclear war. I just pre-date boomers like AlecM, who are of course the spawn of Beelzebub for pinching all the money from the poor Generation Snowflake. Shock-horror, man who has worked hard for 40+ years is better off, than 22 year old who has never had a job. That is not to ignore the real problems generated by politicians of both stripe over the last 20 years.

    A couple of simple facts from Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist” are very telling. An hours work in 1800 earned a working person 10 minutes reading with a tallow candle. An hours work today earns you 300 days worth of reading by LED or compact Flourescent. Not a single country in the world has a higher birth rate than 50 years ago. It is rising income that lifts all, as long as the Malthusians don’t win.

    As Paul makes clear and many have said in recent years, our advanced society only exists due to fossil fuels. If you look around you 95% plus of what you see was built with FF’s. The fact that those who would drive us back to life of our great-grandparents have no grasp of science or engineering.

  4. dangeroosdave permalink
    March 8, 2017 10:44 pm

    I’m a death denier!

  5. March 8, 2017 10:55 pm

    Trump really will be our salvation, he is stuffing the Environmental Protection Agency with pro fossil fuel climate sceptics. It will not be possible for European governments to lie to their people by saying that there taxes are fighting climate change. Give us our taxes back you thieving bastards.

  6. Macha permalink
    March 8, 2017 11:27 pm

    Check out utube videos by Hans Rosling…. The world is becoming wealthier, healthier and educated…

  7. March 9, 2017 12:10 am

    Paul there is a problem with the headline
    “We’re All Living Longer,”
    Average Lifespan is increasing howveer that is no comfort to the people who actually did die yesterday, the day before etc…way before their expected lifespan..
    ..stuff happens, like car accidents

    However yesterday I did point out that whereas millions of Indian/African housewives dying at 35 cos they cook indoors over an open fire.
    Those London children that BBC/Sadiq used in an anti-diesel PR stunt will mostly live in to their 80s.

  8. Broadlands permalink
    March 9, 2017 1:10 am

    “There are almost endless reasons for all of this, but one thing is absolutely clear. Longer, healthier lives are the product of modern society. And , as we know, we would not have the benefits of a modern, developed society without an abundant supply of fossil fuels.”

    This is the dilemma that was raised by Norman Newell and Leslie Marcus back in 1987.
    “Carbon Dioxide and People”.

    William E. Rees…. has written…

    “….this raises an awkward question in an era of global change: just how secure is any city of millions, or even a relative “town” of 100,000, if resource scarcity, shifting climate, or geopolitical unrest threaten to cut it off from vital supplies? Several accelerating trends driven by population growth and explosive urbanization suggest that this is no idle question.”
    “The explosion of human populations and urban accumulations of manufactured capital would not have been possible without fossil fuels;” “Implementing a rigorous population policy. The human population should be controlled safely below each planning region’s average carrying capacity, and with due consideration of the global context.”

    Bottom line? We can’t have it both ways

    • bea permalink
      March 9, 2017 8:25 am


      You are out of date. In the thirty years since, the world has entered decisively into the “demographic transition” to “low death rate, low birthrate” – with the exception of Africa.

      Of course, we, in the old regions, are still being fearsomely jostled by the aftermath of “the modern population explosion,”* And the newly populous regions have not the SLIGHTEST intention of cutting fossil-fuel use until they have at least DOUBLED their present, already enormous, use.

      The future, for better or worse, is cast in iron – unless we all get hit by a friendly rock from space.

      * Technically, the second modern population explosion, since the first was in the old regions and their colonies.

    • HotScot permalink
      March 9, 2017 9:38 am

      “The human population should be controlled safely below each planning region’s average carrying capacity, and with due consideration of the global context.”

      What is the problem with a growing global population?

      At 7 Bn people, humans occupy single digit percentages of the planet’s surface. With advancing agricultural technology crop growth per acre is increasing and the rise of atmospheric CO2 is also fertilising crops. In the event of a warmer planet growing seasons would be extended and vast tracts of frozen tundra in the NH would be released to agriculture. It is confidently anticipated that, even with only the technology element of those variables, current agricultural production can easily cope with 9Bn people.

      But who is to make the decision on who is restricted from having children? The Club of Rome? And who is restricted? Are we to mimic the failed Chinese policy of single children families which saw female children killed at birth because the parents didn’t consider the valuable? And who do we restrict? The rich, poor, poverty-stricken? Or simply those denied access to cheap energy, healthcare and welfare because the means of achieving wealth, cheap energy, is denied them?

      Any proposal to control childbirth is a cruel lie perpetrated largely by wealthy religions which have proven their complete disregard for humanity, despite their simplistic charitable generosity. They have no regard for man’s ability to survive given the opportunity of free choice. The evidence is clear, birth rates in wealthy countries are dropping whilst those in developing countries is still rising (although still slower than before).

      The solution currently underway? Open border immigration. Simpleton governments with an almost unshakable belief in AGW naively believing the best way to spread the wealth and thereby reduce procreation is to even out wealth rather than deal with poverty.

      Ironically, whilst we are undoubtedly all living longer, much of population growth is driven by falling child mortality rates thanks to western technology and medicine. All of it possible because of cheap energy which is destined to stop if the insane pursuit of eradicating CO2 from the atmosphere isn’t halted.

      Technology and production will stop and the world as a whole will go backwards, plunging emerging nations into immediate poverty, again, and wealthy nations into warmongers, once again, in search of cheap resources.

      The human race has always found a way to naturally self-regulate itself without the interference of governments, national, global or otherwise. And yet we watch as more and more layers of government are added including activists like Greenpeace who are gradually morphing into another government mechanism used at will for the benefit of existing political initiatives.

      It’s not the general population that needs to be culled, it’s the growing political population that needs to be dealt with, at least Trump is making a start on that imperative.

  9. Tom Dowter permalink
    March 9, 2017 2:48 am

    Even in Britain, people near the bottom of the income distribution tend to die younger than those near the top.

    Could our increasing life expectancy simply be a result of the country as a whole getting wealthier?

    • HotScot permalink
      March 9, 2017 9:48 am

      Yes, but it’s not simply wealth, it’s the access to technology that wealth affords us. Fertilisers to produce better, and more food, research to improve drugs, transport and education etc. The simple ability to earn enough money to save for a pension rather than living hand to mouth; probably one of the most important contributors to falling populations in developed countries.

      Then there’s the ability to provide elderly welfare which means people aren’t forced to produce children to look after them in their old age. All of this made possible by cheap fossil fuels which have delivered far more benefits to humanity that it has negatives, by a very, very large margin.

  10. Ewing Caldwell permalink
    March 9, 2017 4:20 am

    Overall, there may seem to be increasing longevity but underneath there is a layer whose lives are increasingly becoming shorter. These conflicting trends, especially the one flying in the face of the received wisdom, were noticed nearly two decades ago by the late Dr. George Miller who was then Professor of Epidemiology at London University Queen Mary and Westfield College and a member of the Medical Research Council’s Senior Clinical Scientific Staff.

    He published his research in the book: “On Fairness and Efficiency, the Privatisation of the Public Income during the Past Millenium.” [2000 The Policy Press, ISBN 1 86134 2217.

    It’s an excellent read, and I strongly recommend it.
    (I saw a copy on recently.)

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    March 9, 2017 5:13 am

    The people in the northwest of the 48 USA states, known from bones about 9,000 years ago lived to about age 26 (females) and just over 30 (males) — heard in a talk about 6 weeks ago, so don’t hold me to the exact numbers.

    Venture capitalists in the USA are claiming artificial intelligence (AI) has just reached the level of sophistication such that it will be adopted rapidly and be quite disruptive — in the manner that electricity was. I drove a 2017 auto this week (not mine), and found it sufficiently different than my 2009 model, that I can believe that auto-AI (double meaning there) will be surprising. Not this year, but soon. For instance, in the last 5 years, voice recognition has gone from about 95% (interesting but not fully useful) to over 99% (adoption will be fast).

  12. bea permalink
    March 9, 2017 7:49 am

    Just ONE ‘hurricane’ so far in Southern Hemisphere Season (season started July 2016):

  13. March 9, 2017 9:49 am

    No we are all dying and 92% is the new 97%
    Official WHO account tweeted this

    “92% of people living in cities do not breathe safe air
    Join us breathing life back into our cities at”

    We’ve had reoccurring 97%s ….. Now I see reoccurring 92%s

    Pre Feb 8th Tweets said
    … #Older #women 92% more likely to develop #Dementia where #AirPollution exceeds EPA… by #_atanas_ via @c0nvey

    • dave permalink
      March 9, 2017 2:52 pm

      The correct statement would be :

      “92% of people living in cities do not breathe COMPLETELY SAFE air ALL THE TIME.”

      A relative lives in London in a flat 100 feet above the main business district. I have no qualms breathing while up there, but I spend as little time as possible walking along the main roads.

      Or even:

      “100% of people EVERYWHERE do not breathe COMPLETELY SAFE air.” Case in point – my wife just sneezed.

  14. Tom O permalink
    March 9, 2017 3:05 pm

    I’ve always been skeptical about “modern man lives longer.” Yes, the average age at death has been going up, but that is mostly because the childhood deaths have been going down. If you always had 5% that lived to be 85 and older, when you cut the percentage of deaths under 5 significantly, the average age is going to go up. It has been on the child birth to 5 end that has increased average age at death. Relatively healthy people have lived to be well over 80 at least through the last 400 years – go check out your local cemeteries and check the old headstones. And there have probably always been people that lived to be over 100. I won’t deny that “modern medicine” has contributed by keeping people barely alive with drugs, but most of them don’t really “live” to be in their 80s, they mostly exist into their 80s.

    Yes, better diet and less killing work has contributed to longer life span as well, but when it comes to how old do we live to, it is still about the same for those that stay healthy.

  15. andy mckendrick permalink
    March 9, 2017 3:10 pm

    definition of an ex-spurt by an old American buddy was an ex was a has been and a spurt was a drip under pressure.

  16. dearieme permalink
    March 9, 2017 7:36 pm

    I could believe that those British graphs are levelling out over, say, the last five points.

    • dearieme permalink
      March 9, 2017 7:36 pm

      It’s slightly more persuasive for women than for men.

  17. March 10, 2017 5:43 pm

    Try reading ‘The Cohort Effect’ by Richard Willets. It gives a credible (and for me comforting) explanation of why people born between about 1920 and 1960 will have the longest lifespans, probably ever.

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