Is it worth trying to cure cancer?

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  • Thread starter epsilonjon
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  • #1
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I have confined the title to cancer, but really I am thinking about anything which decreases life-span or supresses birth-rates.

We have gone from a global population size of under 2 billion in 1900, to close to 7 billion now. It seems to be universally accepted that it's correct to try to help people to live as long as possible and have as many children as they want, but how much longer can we stick by this?

Unless we do something ourselves to curb population growth, it seems inevitable that disease and famine will do it for us. In the long run, we will only be replacing one killer with another, and using a huge amount of effort/resources in the process.

What are people's thoughts on this?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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You are assuming that overpopulation will become a problem. But that is not necessarily true: for developed nations, it is already near zero (IIRC, in Europe it is actually negative and most of the population growth in the US is due to immigration), so for developed nations, there is no "other killer" in your equation. For developing nations, their worries are much bigger than cancer and they can't afford cancer treatment anyway.
 
  • #3
more people live off cancer than die from it
 
  • #4
Ryan_m_b
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I have confined the title to cancer, but really I am thinking about anything which decreases life-span or supresses birth-rates.

We have gone from a global population size of under 2 billion in 1900, to close to 7 billion now. It seems to be universally accepted that it's correct to try to help people to live as long as possible and have as many children as they want, but how much longer can we stick by this?

Unless we do something ourselves to curb population growth, it seems inevitable that disease and famine will do it for us. In the long run, we will only be replacing one killer with another, and using a huge amount of effort/resources in the process.

What are people's thoughts on this?

Ridiculous. If you truly believe that go live in the woods with no technology what so ever, see how long it takes before you try to innovate.

The funny thing about population growth is that it turns out that when you give women rights and education they don't want to spend every year of their life spitting out children until they die! That in conjunction with the lack of need to have large numbers of offspring either to provide labour or just to ensure some survive (parents giving birth in Europe can reasonably expect their child to live to adulthood, parents giving birth in 3rd world countries can reasonably expect some, if not most children to die) has led to a massive curbing of population growth in EU countries with many actually shrinking in population.

The overpopulation argument assumes that we do or will lack the technology to sustain so many people, so what's more ethical? Telling a cancer patient "you are going to die because the Overpopulation Act 2011 bans chemotherapy" or investing in farmscrapers, carbon-neutral energy and all other technologies needed to build sustainable cities?
 
  • #5
To answer your original question; yes it is definitely worth trying to cure and prevent disease.

We have gone from a global population size of under 2 billion in 1900, to close to 7 billion now. It seems to be universally accepted that it's correct to try to help people to live as long as possible and have as many children as they want, but how much longer can we stick by this?


Correction; people are not being helped to have as many children as they want. Family planning Programmes are organised in most developing countries by their respective governments.
 

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