Three months a year

Gulf Daily News Sunday, 18th January 2015
Three months
a year...
n New traffic laws ... drivers need to exercise more caution
For the last two years, I have hardly seen
any traffic police patrolling or setting any
checkpoints in any areas.
Where have they all gone?
I suggest that the traffic department allow
all drivers to catch these hasty drivers by
taking pictures while they break the law and
forward it to police for action.
Please do something!
HE morning traffic is tough as it has always
been the case on school days. However,
we see more cars, and specially bus-
es, filled with children from different schools,
driving on the dirt shoulders of the road, forcing themselves into the traffic at high speeds
and with very aggressive attitude.
From 6.30 to 8am, every car on Road 13
in Saar has at least one student in it. Such
driving attitude poses risks for children inside
buses and cars aside from the fact of teaching
our children the wrong driving ethics.
Something needs to be done before anyone gets hurt.
Fares Saghbini
A great service
been reading GDN since it was in the
“Hard Copy
and was
happy when
you launched
the website.
It is a great
joy to have
the news on
our handheld
devices and
read it on the go. However, the joy and feeling
you get from reading a hard copy newspaper
is something one should try at least once in
their lifetime.
down by a campaign
last month. The
bombing came on
that marks the stunthe eve of a meetning denouement of
ing between US
“ intolerant of ignorance, but understandone of Europe’s most
administrator L Paul
ing of illiteracy.” – Maya Angelou, American
respected statesmen
Bremer and UN Secwriter (1928--)
and the man who reretary-General Kofi
united Germany.
Annan to discuss
2001 – Helicopters
Iraq’s future, includlower rescuers into the crater of a volcano in ing whether Iraq is safe enough for the world body
San Salvador, El Salvador after voices are heard to return.
there, reviving unlikely hopes that a group of 2005 – The Supreme Court says the results of
peasants thrown from the crater’s rim might still Ukraine’s presidential election can be published
be alive. Nearly 700 people were killed by the before it rules on an appeal by the losing candiearthquake.
date, suggesting the way is open for the inaugu2002 – The Sierra Leone government declares the ration of Western-leaning reformer Viktor Yushcountry’s 11-year-old civil war, which killed about chenko.
50,000 people – mostly civilians – over. In the war, 2006 – President Laurent Gbagbo calls on his supthe Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group, porters to end days of violent street protests that
known for its extreme brutality, fought against the have roiled Ivory Coast’s government-held south,
government for control of the country.
telling protesters to go home and asking fearful
2003 – Information on allied troop locations in Af- workers to return to their jobs.
ghanistan was “basically non-existent” for US pilots 2007 – A woman, who disappeared in the jungles
last spring, when two Air Force pilots mistakenly of northeastern Cambodia as a child, is found 19
bombed Canadian soldiers, killing four, the avia- years later. The woman – identified as Rochom
tors’ former squadron commander Colonel David P’ngieng, 27 – does not speak any intelligible lanNichols testifies.
guage, but is recognised by a village policeman
2004 – A suicide bomber sets off a truck bomb who claims to be her father.
at the gates of the US-led coalition headquarters 2008 – Masai fighters in Kenya battle rival tribeskilling about 20 people and wounding 63 in the man loyal to President Mwai Kibaki on the third,
deadliest attack since Saddam Hussein’s capture final and bloodiest day of protests over Kenya’s
Coming to the letters section, it’s something I read with interest as it contains opinions and views that I can relate to and feel
happy in knowing that there are people out
there who still think sensibly and have time to
look upon things that define one’s personality
and character contrary to those who consider
those issues small and take no interest in it.
We, as humans,
usually tend to
look at big issues
rather than trying
to solve the little
ones forgetting the
fact that the bigger
problem is just a
collection of small
issues we neglected on the way.
I really hope this section of yours keeps
going and someday someone might gain
positives out of it.
Name withheld
disputed election.
2009 – Israeli troops begin to withdraw from Gaza
after their government and Hamas militants declare an end to a three-week war.
2010 – Taliban militants wearing explosive vests
launch a brazen daylight assault on the centre
of Kabul, with suicide bombings and gunbattles
near the presidential palace and other government buildings that paralyse the Afghan capital
for hours.
2011 – The UN tribunal investigating the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister warns
against speculating about the sealed indictment
as a quiet show of force by Hizbollah rattles nerves
amid fears the militant group will react violently if
2012 – Italians tally 11 dead, 21 missing from
cruise ship disaster in which the $450m Costa
Concordia, carrying more than 4,200 passengers
and crew, slammed into a reef and flopped on
its side off the tiny Italian island of Giglio after
the captain made an unauthorised detour on his
2013 – The International Monetary Fund warns
Portugal against the temptation to relax its contentious austerity drive, saying any backsliding
could undermine the 17-country euro zone’s recovery.
2014 – Egypt’s election council claims that 98.1 per
cent of voters supported the new military-backed
constitution with a 38.6 turnout.
verybody knows where the population explosion came from. Two
centuries ago, birth rates and death
rates were high everywhere, and population growth was very slow. Then clean
water, good food and antibiotics radically cut the death rate – and the human
population of this planet increased 300
per cent in the past 90 years.
Eventually, as people moved into cities
and big families were no longer an advantage, the birth rate dropped too. The
world’s population is still growing, but it
will only increase by 50pc in the next 90
years. So far, so obvious. But what's happening to the human lifespan is equally
Here's the key statistic: The average
human lifespan in a developed country
has been increasing at three months per
year ever since 1840.
Everybody assumes that lifespan grew
much faster in the 19th and early 20th
centuries, and is growing much slower
now. But no. It has plodded along at the
same rate, adding about three months
to people's life spans every year, for the
past 175 years.
And yes, that does mean that a baby
born four years from now can expect
to live, on average, a whole year longer
than a baby born this year.
There have always been some people,
who lived to 70 or 80, but the average
age at death in 1840 was only 40 years.
By 2000, it was 80 years. That's 40 more
years of life per person in 160 years.
And lifespan is still increasing at the
same rate. In Britain, for example, the average lifespan has increased by 11 more
years in the past 44 years – three months
per year, just like in the 19th century.
This is why actuaries predict that
babies born in 2000 will have an average
lifespan of 100 years.
Give those babies the 80 years of life
that people who died in 2000 enjoyed,
then give them an extra three months for
every one of those 80 years – and they
will have 20 years more years to live. That
is, an average of 100 years.
This sounds so outlandish that you
instinctively feel there must be something wrong with it, and maybe there is.
The fact that it has gone on like this for
175 years doesn't necessarily mean that
it will go on forever.
But it's not stopping or even slowing,
so the smart money says that it will continue for quite a while yet.
What about the developing world?
Most of it has been playing catch-up, and
by now the gap isn't very big any more.
In China, the average lifespan was only
42 years as recently as 1950 – but then it
began increasing by six months per year,
so that the average Chinese citizen can
now expect to live to 75 years.
Once you hit an average lifespan of
75, however, the pace slows down to
three months per year, the same as in the
developed countries.
So do we end up with a huge population of people so old they can barely
hold their heads up, let alone eat solid
food? Probably not.
In real life, crippling diseases and disabilities are still mainly a phenomenon of
the last decade of life, and as the lifespan
lengthens that final decade also moves.
Demographers now talk about the
"young old", who are in their 70s and
80s and still in reasonably good shape –
and the "old old", in their 90s and 100s,
who are mostly frail and in need of care.
So the time is probably coming when
people must work until into their 80s,
because the over-65s will amount to a
third of the population. No society can
afford to support so many.
But by then, people won't be decrepit
in their 80s. And the only alternative is
dying younger.