On the heels of a Wharton paper exploring the link between human longevity and environmental degradation, TerraPass is launching several new products to help you balance out the twin scourges of increased lifespan and improved human health.
The first is TerraPass Rx, a handy way to neutralize the effects of your prescription meds. Using Lipitor to selfishly keep those LDLs down? Zantac? Zoloft? No problem. Just plug your prescription and family history into our handy lifespan calculator, which uses the dose-response curves for hundreds of the most popular meds to determine their CO2 impact. Then offset it!
Of course, medicine isn’t the only or even the best way to increase your lifespan. Studies suggest a variety of factors increase longevity: dog ownership, marital status, the number of friends in your social circle, exercise, stress level, etc. Look for TerraPass Pet, TerraPass Hubby, TerraPass Pal, TerraPass Gym, and TerraPass Yoga products coming soon.
The best news is that these products have already paid for themselves. After all, you’re part of a generation that will live longer than any in the history of the planet. And can you put a price on extra time spent with loved ones?
Yes, you can: $60,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY), according to a healthcare cost analysis study that establishes once and for all why economists don’t get invited to parties very often.
So, for example, consider your bicycle. For every year that you regularly bike to work, you add about 10.6 days to your life. At $60,000 per QALY, that’s a $1,740 value, more than enough to cover the cost of your new lifespan TerraPass.
We are, of course, joking. There would be serious practical, to say nothing of ethical, impediments to implementing such a scheme. But there is a semi-serious point lurking in this post about the incredibly flexible nature of carbon offsets as a tool to help us balance different societal goals. To quote from the original research paper:
In theory, any surplus economic value of the longevity benefits of human-powered transportation could be used to offset the environmental costs of the increase in longevity. Market mechanisms to offset environmental impact are now widely available. That is, money paid by one party can be used to buy reductions in emissions by another party…In economic terms, the longevity benefits of physical activity are quite large, and only a small portion of this surplus would be required to purchase offsets for the environmental costs.
Offsets are sometimes denigrated as a poor alternative to conservation, and although this view is wrong, it is also understandable. Almost all of us could drive less or drive more efficient cars, and some of us could give up driving altogether. But most of us don’t, and in this context, offsets can feel like the easy way out.
In reality, offsets are simply an economic tool that can be harnessed to achieve an astonishing array of policy objectives, whether increased conservation, production of clean energy, or, in this case, environmentally balanced improvements in human wellbeing.