Americans prefer energy fix over cure for cancer

Main Question or Discussion Point

I was actually surprised by this. I have always read that Americans are addicted to cars, etc, but I didn't think they were this addicted:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A nationwide survey of nearly 700 people suggests that Americans would prefer more money be invested in technology to solve the nation's energy ailments than to cure cancer or other diseases.

Some 37 percent of respondents to the poll, conducted by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Virginia, said they would rank spending to raise energy efficiency and develop alternative fuel technology a top priority for future investment. That compares with 30 percent who ranked more cash for medical breakthroughs as most important.
http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN0233915320080403

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
How long have we been looking for a "cure" for cancer? People get bored of it easily, and even though HUGE leaps have been made in cancer treatment, your average Joe doesn't see an honest-to-God cure, so it doesn't make that much of an impact.

Whereas energy is the new fad and seems attainable in the short-term (relatively short term...).

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I was actually surprised by this. I have always read that Americans are addicted to cars, etc, but I didn't think they were this addicted:

http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN0233915320080403
This doesn't surprise me at all.

Our economy runs on oil, and our ever-growing appetite for it is the main reason we're involved in the Middle East. Most Americans would love to have the option of not caring what happens there.

Americans who believe that global warming is caused by burning fossil fuels have another reason want us to transition away from oil.

Upon learning that they have cancer, your typical American goes through the 'Six Stages Of Grief'.

1. Denial.
2. Anger.
3. Bargaining.
4. Depression.
5. Acceptance
6. Trying to figure out how to get to the cancer center 3 whole blocks away.

Energy trumps cancer every time.

Consider this, how many Americans have lost a dearly beloved to cancer and how many Americans like to have their houses heated to 70F+ next winter?

Staff Emeritus
This doesn't strike me as being at all illogical:

(1) Something like 2/3 of us won't get cancer. We all use electricity.

(2) There is a strong positive correlation between life expectancy and energy usage.

(3) A society with limitless energy is more likely to find a cancer cure than a cancer-free society will find a source of limitless energy. Have your cake and eat it too.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
It's not just that we Americans like our cars, the problem is also that many people have no option but to make long commutes to work. At up to 4$per gallon for gasonline now, people are starting to realize that we need to do something and that the tree-hugging hippies were right all along. I have known people whose commute was as long as six hours per day! It is not unusual to drive for three hours per day just to get to work and home again, as I did for a few years. I have an uncle whose commute has been about four hours per day for twenty years or more. People do this because the homes they can afford and the jobs that can pay for those homes are often 100 miles apart or more. Also, the deteriorating conditions of the cities drive people to the suburbs. This is why my family left Los Angeles when I was in high school. My parents didn't want me going to a school where people carried PCP in brief cases [on campus], and the one-mile walk home was a death defying, thrill seeking experience. Last edited: Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member fourier jr, where do you live? It's not just that we Americans like our cars, the problem is also that many people have no option but to make long commutes to work. At up to 4$ per gallon for gasonline now, people are starting to realize that we need to do something and that the tree-hugging hippies were right all along.

I have known people whose commute was as long as six hours per day! It is not unusual to drive for three hours per day just to get to work and home again, as I did for a few years.

People do this because the homes they can afford and the jobs that can pay for those homes are often 100 miles apart or more. I have an uncle whose commute has been about four hours per day for twenty years or more.
Were they right by killing nuclear energy? Driving four hours every day is nuts. I would just opt for a smaller house.

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Driving four hours every day is nuts. I would just opt for a smaller house.
Four hours is definately crazy! But there are other reasons for a less-than-perfect commuting situation.

My commute is 30 minutes and I think it's way too long. But my daughter is two years from graduating from high school - this would be a terrible time for us to move. Also, from where we live now, my husband is less than 10 minutes from his work. So I have to commute, for the time being.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Were they right by killing nuclear energy?
Yes.

As for buying a smaller house, did I say anything about buying big houses? I am talking about people who are trying to live in a decent neighborhood but still making a living. Although I must say, the loan insanity [creative financing] that lead to the current crisis also lead to the construction of huge homes in many areas.

Last edited:
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
In the case of my uncle, he has lived in the same house for thirty years. He works in industrial areas in the LA basin and he has to go where the jobs are. There are no decent homes or neighborhoods in many of the areas that he has worked because they are industrial. Then, one often finds that ghettos and very low income housing surround the industrial areas.

Last edited:
turbo
Gold Member
Energy consumption is critical in Maine. We are a very rural state, and commutes can be very long. People who work closer to the coast where the high-tech and military contractors are concentrated cannot possibly afford to live in the towns where they work, so they head inland a couple of hours to areas where real estate prices are reasonable. With the rising price of gasoline, these commutes have become very expensive. At the same time, heating oil prices are through the roof, and this winter has been hard and still has its grip on us.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Oh yes, duh, gotta factor in gridlock. Sometimes the distances aren't all that great, but the time it takes to make the drive is another matter.

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
At the same time, heating oil prices are through the roof, and this winter has been hard and still has its grip on us.
Yes, I'm not sure why everyone immediately jumps to the conclusion it's all about cars and commuting to work or driving distances one could walk. The rising fuel costs affect the ability to heat one's house, to afford food (it's not just about buying local either...even the local farmer needs fuel to run the tractors to plow the fields and harvest, and the grocery store still needs to run the refrigerators to keep the food fresh), and to cook food.

I don't think it's so much that people don't want both, but when you're prioritizing how money is spent in the short term, finding an energy solution can't wait any longer before we're ALL in trouble. Without an immediate cure for cancer, the problem isn't going to get any worse than it already is.

G01
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Doesn't seem illogical to me. Like previous posters pointed out, we can't find a cure for cancer if we don't have electricity pumping into our science labs...

To my mind it is just a product of conditioning. Global warming is an impending doom fraught with all kinds of catastrophies and disasters. Our energy consumption is the cause of global warming, there for energy conservation will avert or derail the impending disaster worldwide. How can a mere disease like cancer stand up to the global warming jaugernaught? I would rather they find a cure for cancer and let ol mother earth take care of herself whatever way she sees fit. We are only visitors here afterall. imho. I could go on, but I won't.

russ_watters
Mentor
....the tree-hugging hippies were right all along.
Yes. [re: right about killing nuclear energy]
I thought we'd fixed that, Ivan - you having relapse?

[edited - probably went over the line...]

In 50 years, when the US is 75% nuclear power and most hippies are dead, history will see that particular facet of the movement (perhaps the whole thing) for what it was: a drug induced fantasy. This particular position of the movement has absolutely no basis in reality. It is complete and utter BS.

Last edited:
Boo hooo

Americans complain because it is costing more to heat their 10,000 sq. foot Mcmansions, to power their 100" HDTVs, and to power their gas guzzling 400 hp SUV/Truck/sports muscle car.

Americans are simply self centered and only care most about what is going to affect their wallet. Simple as that. Brits pay what, \$8.50 a gallon for gas? So why do they still pick medical funding over energy funding?

Americans want a fix for energy because it is affecting their wallets, not because it would be good for the environment. Reductions in pollution from alternative fuels/energy sources are only a small secondary plus in the minds of most Americans.

I'm sorry, do you live under a rock or something? McMansions? 10,000sq. foot ones at that? LOL who the hell owns those? My house is 1700sq ft, and I consider that a lot already. Not to mention, it's 5 people living in it including myself.

But hey, you're right, Brits pay more for gas. I'm sure you can directly compare that, right? Since Brits also drive as much as Americans, right?

Let's compare the size of our countries.

UK (I'm adding Northern Ireland for the lulz): 244,820 km²

USA: 9,826,630 km²

Just a bit of a difference, wouldn't you say? I have an hour-long commute to school every day. Luckily for me there is a bus that takes me directly to school. Many people can't do that.

As Moonbear stated, it is directly related to our wallets. If I have to pay double for gas, that leaves less for things like food.

Last edited:
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Last edited:
No, they drive about twice as long, not twice as much. Idling your car burns fuel, but is it as much as actually driving somewhere?

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
No, they drive about twice as long, not twice as much. Idling your car burns fuel, but is it as much as actually driving somewhere?
Well, until you find numbers for expenditure on gas, that's the best data I could find quickly. At the very least, the argument based on a comparison of country sizes is shown to be lacking.

At the very least? How so? Because they sit in their cars longer?

They are idiots for driving when they could take the bus. There are no buses in Podunk, Alabama. It's a fact that the UK is smaller and more densely populated. You just don't have as far to go. You can't, unless you decide to go in circles.

Maybe we should hold a Tour de America one year so you all realize this.

Evo
Mentor
I'm not quite sure what that means gokul, is that individual driving time? Is that saying that only Italians have less individual driving time commuting back and forth to work than the US?

Having friends in the Netherlands that mostly use bicycles, I find that hard to believe. Having friends in Italy, most driving time is by scooter, as in a lot of non-US countries. Plus yes, a lot work very near their homes.

How much driving do Americans do not commuting? During the work day, the roads are filled with gas guzzling cars for no apparent reason.

I'd like to see a comparison of fuel consumption for all driving by country.