Evolution happens slowly with human beings, especially since each human generation is about 20 years.
But technological change and social change happens much, much faster.
So our psychological and physical makeup is ill-suited to the environment we have made for ourselves.
- Modern food supply results in a diet that is very different from what hunter-gatherers generally ate, which is part of the reason for the obesity epidemic. Also the modern diet results in a different microbial ecosystem in the gut vs. hunter-gatherer diets, which has many health consequences that researchers are unraveling.
- Common use of antibiotics also may be part of the reason for the high rate of allergies and autoimmune diseases in developed countries.
- People are psychologically not well adapted to city living, where they have to interact with a lot of people they don't know.
- We have a deep affinity for natural environments, yet many of us have to live in artificial environments.
- Video is seductive, that is part of internet addiction.
Other ways you can think of?
Most of them are fossils in deadly earnest to eat one more favourite sandwich tommorrow with all their memories no good as smoke. I cant stand the idea.
No doubt there are useless old people just as there are useless young people, but of necessity there are fewer, many having passed on. And useless old people, if they have lived well, can remember when they were useful. Many young people these days have a hard time figuring out how to be useful at all.
Old age is a privilege most people throughout history have not been granted. In 1900 life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 and now it is 78—the age I will reach in two weeks. Like my father, who lived to 96, I have reached this age without major illness. I've had sixteen years of retirement in which to travel, read, write, and enjoy the company of my three sons and my grandchildren. If it ended tomorrow, I would have little reason to complain.
The trouble is, old age is not interesting until one gets there. It's a foreign country with an unknown language to the young and even to the middle-aged. —May Sarton
You seem unusually bitter toward old people, perhaps your experience with them has not been good. With luck and years that may change so that when you yourself arrive in the foreign country, you may find it interesting and enlightening after you've learned its language.
Meanwhile nature is cruel.
There has certainly been some cruelty but I doubt it was nature's doing. I concluded decades ago that Nature is indifferent.
The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. —Carl Sagan
It's very hostile in the sense that in almost all of it, a human would die in seconds. We are very VERY lucky to be here, with huge rocks randomly zipping around in the solar system.
The fact that life developed only in regions of the universe where conditions make life possible seems more like tautology than anything else.
Dr. Clark, that extremophiles exist in the GOP is a tautology.
Luara, a person who throws a rock at me might have hostile intent, but the rock has no hostile intent.
The universe doesn't care whether I, you, or any human lives or dies.
Are we lucky?
A few people in Russia were unlucky several months ago when some space rocks landed.
Will humanity's good luck continue?
If you keep up with the news about huge rocks randomly zipping around in the solar system, you may have heard that in the late 2020s one will come close. If it passes through a "window" astronomers have calculated, it will return in about eleven years and hit.
Which reminds me of the purposes of space and time.
The purpose of space is to keep everything from happening where I am. The purpose of time is to keep it all from happening now.
Obviously, I'm not ascribing agency to the universe. I said it's very hostile in the sense that it's swiftly lethal for life almost everywhere, and our surviving this long in a small patch of it, with giant space rocks randomly bombarding us now and then, is sheer incredible luck.
The universe is a dangerous place, and the process of evolution that allowed us to appear in an exceptional spot, is too slow to adapt to a lot of accidents. And evolution works by means of death and suffering.
And suffering and pain are a necessary part of the evolution of consciousness. They motivate creatures to do things that favor their survival, and creatures have to struggle, sometimes desperately, for survival.
Yes, the difficulties of old age are a good example of how people suffer for having changed our environment faster than we can biologically adapt.
Disabilities are another example. Lots of people around with all sorts of problems. They wouldn't have been around in the past because a lot of them would have died.
Money seems like another example - our invention of money enables much more inequality of wealth and massive suffering for people who lose out.
A fundamental remedy, suggested by Swift's A Modest Proposal:
When elders' medical costs exceed X dollars per month, their kids can enjoy them boiled, baked, fried, in stews, etc.
Old meat is tough and stringy—no one chooses mutton when they could have lamb.