General Question

Pandora's avatar

7th billionth baby born. Is medical advancement going to be the death of us all?

Asked by Pandora (27064points) November 1st, 2011

I heard that by 2020 the world will reach 20 billion. Our population continues to grow as we continue to cure illnesses that would’ve other wise kept the population numbers at bay.
Is this something we should worry about? Or do you think mother nature will solve that problem with plagues, fertility problems, and droughts?
Or will it simply mean more wars for land and resources and we will kill each other off?

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24 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Nah, just the poor.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It’s not just medical science. People need to learn how to use birth control.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think the problem is staying alive, but staying alive with chronic illness. If medical advancement cures an illness and we are healthy, I think everything will be fine. If medical advancement keeps us dependent on medications and machines, then I think we have a problem. I never worry about food and water. I think there will always be enough food, water, energy, shelter, if we do the right thing as a world community and begin to live in peace. I know we are far from that now, but I hold out hope the earth will eventually be the utopia that I think is possible. I think probably the road to getting there will mean a lot of suffering and death.

Mother nature does take care of some of these things, but the more we advance the less affect she has on human life, but she can still have a devastating affect.

My mom and dad just got back from China, and it seems the Chinese used to have socialized medicine, but they decided to go the way of America, and now if you cannot afford health care or health insurance tough luck. People are dying. So, maybe @thorninmud makes a valid point. Just the poor. But, who is going to clean the mansions if the poor drop dead? ~ Seriously, I think eventually there will be some sort of revolution, epiphany, aha moment, and we will be able to live safely, healthy, and together.

Pandora's avatar

@JLeslie Just about 100 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for people to die by the time they reached 55. Now the average age is about 70. I think its not so much that we are over populating (although there is that) but the fact that we are living longer. If we reach 20 billion in a few short years that means more pollution because there will be more waste. Our planet is dying as it is or at least going through a change. So it got me wondering. If prolonging life is going to make things more difficult. Is medical science helping human kind? I mean when it comes to animals in the wild scientist always say we shouldn’t upset the balance of nature. By prolonging our lives, are we upsetting the balance of nature? Will we use up all our resourses if we continue to populate.
@worriedguy Yes, would be nice.
@thorninmud You’ve got a point..
I read and article that said that India will soon pass Chinas population.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pandora I don’t think of living as upsetting the balance of nature. I do polluting as upsetting the balance though, there I competely agree. We need to come up with some answers about the polluting and rape of our precious planet. Even if medical science keeps us alive, if there is not food and water, we will die. Average life expectancy is deceptive, because 100 years ago there was much much more infant death, and death in childhood, so the mean average does not tell the average age or most likely age someone dies, but simpy the mean average.

flutherother's avatar

1 baby = dream
7 billion babies = nightmare

Coloma's avatar

It’s outta control, and yes, I DO think that medical “advances” are intervening in ways that are less than good for the future of our planet. WTF, accept your fate and don’t go for the heroic measures if you’re over 50 years of age.

I have no problem exiting when my time comes and I have no intention of grasping at medical practices to prolong my life in the event of a terminal illness.

Billions of babies being born and everyone obsessed with living til they are 110 and fearing their mortality is a recipe for disaster.

I do think “God/nature/evolution will find a way to re-balance, yes I do. Either the planet rebels and goes belly up to start over, or….more likely, man sets his own extinction in action by depleting every natural resource to the point of mass famine and plague.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Maybe it’s time for logans run. Do what ever you want till your 30 then die. (maybe you could get some extra time if you don’t add to the problem by having kids).

Luiveton's avatar

We need birth control.
If I controlled the world, I’d kill everyone. Mwahahaha.

Lightlyseared's avatar

note to self don’t apoint @Luiveton as supreme ruler of the world

lillycoyote's avatar

I think medical advancement is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Poor people in developing countries have more children than those in developed countries for a number of reasons and one of those reasons is that some of these countries have very high rates of child mortality and under-5 mortality. Around the world, almost 8 million children under the age of 5 died in 2010, mostly from things that could be treated or prevented. You would have a better chance of convincing people to use birth control and limit themselves to say, two children, if you could assure them, or at least provide with them much better odds, that those two children would actually both survive to adulthood.

Pandora's avatar

@lillycoyote Ah, but we continue to help in those poor countries by supplying medical treatment, vacinations and food. True many die but many continue to have large families without enough food to feed them all. More probably die from being malnurished but before they die they already have several kids by the time they are in their 20’s. Both of my grandmothers grew up poor and without health care. One of my grandmothers had 11 children. One died. The second had 8 and one died. Under 5 mortality rate is decreasing because of medical intervention. If my grand parents where having that many kids today, there is a good chance that neither would’ve lost a child. Yes, this is a sad thing. But nature has to keep things balanced somehow.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue doing what we are doing, but science continues with newer discoveries every day and I think we may be heading way to far with this.
Of course, birth control would certainly help keep the numbers down. If everyone would slow down with the number of births they had then by all means science should continue.
@Coloma I’m with you there. I’m not looking to live a long life, and much less a life where I’m confined to a bed. When my number is up, its up.
@Lightlyseared LOL, I thought of that movie as well when I was posting my question. But I figured that very few would know it. But movies have come true. At the rate we are going, it may be so. We will be healthy and strong till we are in our 30s and then we will be rounded up for the slaughter or like @Coloma mentioned. The planet will eventually vomit us up.

mazingerz88's avatar

Yes on all the future wars that will result as resources runs out and the population keeps increasing. Humans would always choose freedom over preemptive measures geared towards future survival for the entire species. We can’t even agree if the planet is heating up or not.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@Pandora That’s what makes the best sci-fi so good.

wundayatta's avatar

Sigh. I just posted a link the UN demographic population projections on two other questions. According to them, the most likely scenario shows population topping at 9 billion. These 20 billion estimates are very unlikely. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding out there, I despair and wonder why I even bother to say anything.

Medical advances are an indication of wealth. Wealth is strongly correlated with a decrease in fertility. The best thing for population we could have is better health care. The better off we are, the fewer children we have. Not that anyone will pay attention.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Pandora There are social, political and historical reasons for poverty in the third world. Poverty is what is killing people, not “nature taking it’s course.” Is it nature taking it’s course when “nature” disproportionally kills poor people. It is a lot easier to believe that “nature taking it’s course” is a valid solution when it is the third world that is generally ravaged by famines and plagues and not the world you live that will suffer.

Your question seemed to imply that you believe that advancements in medical science are what is causing the increased population. I disagree that the case. Access to the advancements to medical science is not evenly spread around the world and it is not the cause of population growth. It generally prolongs life and improves the quality of life in developed countries, where birth rates are already low.

And as to one of your other points, one, we really don’t give that much aid to the countries that need it the most, two, the aid we do give doesn’t always reach the people who need it because of corruption in their governments, and three, foreign aid is not really the solution to poverty in developing countries.

Mariah's avatar

Yeah, fuck the ill.~

No really, I think we could be fine if people would only have a maximum of two kids. Any more and we have the problem of exponential population growth.

Pandora's avatar

@lillycoyote Not causing it all by itself. But we certainly died at a much faster rate about 100 years back. Yet with all the illnesses we did not die as a species. We still continued to grow.
@wundayatta You’re right about the projections. I read the 20 million projection somewhere but I couldn’t find it. I just followed links. Well that may sound better but is it really? True that wealthier people have less children but its the poor that multiply like crazy and the poor out number the wealthy.

Hobbes's avatar

As I understand it, the problem is not simply that there are too many people. It is that more and more of this rapidly increasing population is Industrializing. That is, we are converting more and more of the biosphere into technology, and therefore consuming more and more resources and producing more and more waste. If we continue down this path, the ecosystems which support us will completely collapse, and so will our Civilization. It is possible some completely unexpected technological breakthrough could transform our relationship with the ecosystem, perhaps a true replacement for oil, but even that would not be enough to escape the consequences of the devastation we have wrought.

However, the other possibility is that we could begin to look within ourselves, to understand our nature and our relationship to all other beings. Even if our Civilization collapses, we could still have more than enough food and water for everyone on the planet if we collectively agreed to direct our energy toward that goal. We could have that today, if we wanted it. Yet, we haven’t done it yet. Why? I believe it is because we do not understand the true nature of the self, which is that it does not exist, and yet is everything. We are not separate from one another or from any other being. Though it may be painful, the end of Civilization as we know it will not prevent us from being human. Indeed, it may allow us, finally, to know ourselves.

YARNLADY's avatar

As I understand it, we all die, regardless.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Pandora “We” are not necessarily dying at slower rate. In the West, in developed countries, yes. You need to look at the issue globally.

Hobbes's avatar


Of course, but I think if anything matters in the face of that, it’s the way we treat one another and the rest of life.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Hobbes Yes, the path we choose along the way is the important part.

whitetigress's avatar

We were meant to reproduce, not pollute the world with man made toxins and materials. We can have a large population we just need to learn how to cultivate more accordingly.

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