The Download: Legitimizing longevity science, and Harvard’s geoengineering U-turn

Mike Powers
The Download: Legitimizing longevity science, and Harvard’s geoengineering U-turn


On a bright chilly day last December, a crowd of doctors and scientists gathered at a research institute atop a hill in Novato, California. Their goal is to help people add years to their lifespans, and to live those extra years in good health. But the meeting’s participants had another goal as well: to be recognized as a credible medical field.

For too long, modern medicine has focused on treating disease rather than preventing it, they say. They believe that it’s time to move from reactive healthcare to proactive healthcare. And to do so in a credible way—by setting “gold standards” and medical guidelines for the field. These scientists and clinicians see themselves spearheading a revolution in medicine.

But proponents recognize the challenges ahead. Clinicians disagree on how they should assess and treat aging. And without standards and guidelines, there is a real risk that some clinics could end up not only failing to serve their clients, but potentially harming them. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Harvard halts its long-planned atmospheric geoengineering experiment

Harvard researchers have ceased a long-running effort to conduct a small geoengineering experiment in the stratosphere, following repeated delays and public criticism.

The basic concept behind solar geoengineering is that the world might be able to counteract global warming by spraying tiny particles in the atmosphere that could scatter sunlight. Proponents of solar geoengineering research argue we should investigate the concept because it may significantly reduce the dangers of climate change.

But critics argue that even studying the possibility of solar geoengineering eases the societal pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They also fear such research could create a slippery slope that increases the odds that nations or rogue actors will one day deploy it, despite the possibility of dangerous side-effects. Read the full story.

—James Temple



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