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News Can Science be a way out of the world issues that we see today?

  1. Nov 5, 2011 #1
    Hi everybody,

    I don't know if this thread is in the right place because it deals with a mix of world affairs and science. If I did post this in the wrong place, I do apologize.

    So my question is: Can Science be a way out of the troubles within the world today?

    I personally believe that science can remove us from the situation that we are in by allowing us observe and examine what the world has to offer and to have better level of respect for it. I also believe that the applications of science can be seen as a gateway to a better living and most importantly more job opportunities, which is what everyone is protesting about in those occupy movements.

    So, that it my point of view. I am interested in seeing what other people have to say about my beliefs so post away :).

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2011 #2


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    I don't see how science can end greed, crazed dictators, terrorism, criminals, abuse, etc.... So, no.
  4. Nov 5, 2011 #3
    Science can do a lot for us, it can fix quite a few of issues. But as Evo mentioned, there will always be crazy dictators and such. We need people of good will trying to do the good thing. There are too few such people out there.

    There are so many threats out there right now. Overpopulation is the biggest of them. I don't see how science can stop overpopulation....

    So no.
  5. Nov 5, 2011 #4
    So what can end those evils that exist?

    I do realize that science cannot end greed and everything associated with it but I think it has the potential. If people were to have a better interest in science wouldn't people focus less on hogging the world's resources and focus more on ways to improve it. For example, Cancer, if people's goals weren't clouded by greed and their interests were shifted away from business/money and more towards biology/health wouldn't the population of the world be more cooperative and working towards one goal to develop better methods/treatments to defeat cancer?
  6. Nov 5, 2011 #5


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    Why would they? Greed is not due to ignorance.

    Maybe. More importantly, how do you force people to have different values and beliefs?
  7. Nov 5, 2011 #6
    As for micromass' statement, better methods to bio-engineer foods as well as development towards converting the other large percentage (sorry don't know off of the top of my head) of unusable water to drinkable water. Therefore, ending any issues regarding overpopulation, in terms of food and water.
  8. Nov 5, 2011 #7

    I'm not saying to force it on them, but integrate it more prominently in our everyday lives as well as to have a stronger emphasis of science in schools. It is amazing to see that there are quite a few students in schools, the one I volunteer at as an example, who say that they hate/dislike science.
  9. Nov 5, 2011 #8


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    Where is the money going to come from? More food and water in impoverished areas means more births, means more overpopulation, means more need for food, water, sanitation, jobs, and healthcare. Right now shipments of food to impoverished areas of africa are being stolen from the people by the military and sold on the black market.
  10. Nov 6, 2011 #9

    I know I may be going off on a tangent here, but that is one of the biggest issues that I have with all of those organizations who give food rather than teach them to make food on their own. As you have said, food is being delivered and then being stolen by those of the military. If we were to instead teach people in impoverished locations to be self sufficient then this issue may be downsized.
  11. Nov 6, 2011 #10
    Where is the money at the moment? I can make an assumption that it is in the hands of those that are higher up the social chain (upper class folk) and being spent on useless things such as fast cars and huge houses. Also thats another thing that can reduce the overpopulation issue - Don't build huge estates/mansions.
  12. Nov 6, 2011 #11
    I guess it's been mentioned already that Science is a double-edged sword so as soon as someone discovers or invents something powerful, there will be a ton of corrupt people trying to use it as a tool of destruction, greed or oppression. So I think the underlying problem is that our rate of social evolution hasn't kept pace with our scientific/tech evolution. Otherwise, we would have achieved world peace long before achieving nuclear power.

    We do well at advancing in complex things that we can measure or quantify like with business or technology. But when it comes to things that are more intuitive like getting rival groups to co-exist peacefully, then we seem to fall into long-lasting struggles of attrition where we simply have to wait out a generation for progress. Perhaps if we had a way of actually measuring "goodness", then we could excel at it.
  13. Nov 6, 2011 #12


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    Well, partly because some of the most impoverished parts of the world - eg. India, Ethiopia - are little more than deserts. Not much you can teach someone about growing food out of sand.
  14. Nov 6, 2011 #13
    Well India isn't really all desert, The biggest reason for poverty and hunger in India is not really the lack of fertile land but the lack of agricultural productivity and over reliance on agriculture (instead of technology) and over population is also the reason,although technology can help increase agricultural productivity.

  15. Nov 6, 2011 #14
    That problem's been around a long time and shortening attention spans don't help.

    Plato, in Phaedrus 274c5-275b2 (c. 360BC), tells us more about Thoth.
  16. Nov 6, 2011 #15


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    Chris 0101 asks in the OP: “Can Science be a way out of the troubles within the world today? IMO, yes, certainly possible. Here are two examples where science provides solutions:

    World hunger. The world needs to solve three food problems simultaneously: end hunger, double food production by 2050, and do both while drastically reducing agriculture’s damage to the environment. Scientists offer five solutions:

    1. Stop agriculture from consuming more tropical land
    2. Boost the productivity of farms that have the lowest yields
    3. Raise the efficiency of water and fertilizer use worldwide
    4. Reduce per capita meat consumption
    5. Reduce waste in food production and distribution


    Electrical energy waste in the USA. Wasted outdoor lighting that shines upward into space is estimated at22,000 Gigawatt-hours per year. At an average of $.10 per Kilowatt-hour the cost of that wasted electrical energy is $2.2 Billion dollars per year.


    Certainly here on Physics Forums members could list many more useful solutions science has found to help resolve our human family’s problems. However, just having a solution does not mean it gets implemented. The owners of coal burning power plants will not install expensive equipment to remove air pollutants because it is cheaper to send them downwind. Greed, selfishness, dishonesty, corruption, and cheating all contribute to our problems today.

    Yes, ask physical scientists for technical solutions to our physical problems. Ask the economists for answers to our economic difficulties. But we must ask the social scientists to help resolve our behavior problems.
  17. Nov 6, 2011 #16


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    Science can help solve the physical problems such as food shortage, energy production etc but there are social problems that are both separate and compounded with the physical. Personally I've always wondered what the effects would be if the social sciences had their renaissance and started to become much stronger fields of science. How would future economic systems work if they were able to be designed and implemented empirically? What would political models looks like?

    Ultimately though you are going to run into a situation that is caused by conflicting values. No amount of education of scientific development is going to get around that.
  18. Nov 6, 2011 #17


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    In this case, science would make one current issue even more severe. If you extend the lifetime of the population, you increase the burden of Social Security on your younger workers - workers that have a low probability of getting cancer until they're older.

    In fact, science and its tendency to increase the average lifespan of Americans is one reason (but not the entire reason) Social Security is such a problem. With increased health and increased lifetimes, the age one retires should also be adjusted. In reality, the increase on one side doesn't guarantee people will be willing to increase the other side.

    In other words, there are very few scientific advances that only have a positive affect on a very narrow piece of the world. Most advances affect more than just the area they wre intended to improve and those other affects require new decisions that are made well or made poorly. Not only does science solve problems, but it also creates new problems to be solved.
  19. Nov 7, 2011 #18
    What "troubles" are you trying to resolve with science? What "situation" do you want science to "remove us from"?

    As for the Occupiers, they don't appear to want to actually "do" anything except complain? The Occupied people are choosing to live in a park - in tents - rather than sleep at home in their beds. The Occupiers could be making a difference right now - there are people they can help directly - right now.

    Specifically, there are places in Africa where the Occupiers would be better off living in their tents than the people sleeping on the dirt. The Occupiers could help the people build huts, plant crops, secure potable water, clean wounds - using current technology.

    Accordingly, I think the Occupied folks should be given free passage aboard a freighter (they can sleep in their tents) to anywhere in the world they can make a difference - to help make the lives of people less fortunate than them better. The Occupied folks can apply the science we have to make things better for the dirt poor folks.

    If they don't want to do anything that extreme - there are a lot of people living in nursing homes that are lonely and would appreciate a little company. We have the technology to make life better for these folks and it won't cost a dime - just a few minutes per day of the Occupier's time.
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