Response to “The World We Made”

Response to “The World We Made”

I find the “Miracle Cures?” chapter of The World We Made to be a mixed bag, with some elements that seem consistent with one another and others that seem like oversights. I think the author made a wise decision to center medical advancements around developments in genomics and gene therapy, as this is where I predict many of the future’s medical discoveries will lie. I also appreciated his choice to demonstrate how medical advancements solve some problems but can often create new ones, as was the case with tuberculosis in the chapter. While this is one example of the different issues that medical technology will present, I felt there were compelling topics that were left out.

For instance, advancements in genetic engineering will (hopefully) allow us to predict, treat and potentially eradicate certain diseases. But in an admittedly more dystopian imagining of the future, they also make it possible (for those who can afford it) to select for certain traits, such as eye-color. This concept of “designer babies” perhaps doesn’t fit into the authors environmental narrative, but it is one example of the concerns that many scientists have today regarding genetic engineering. This chapter seemed to assume that these technologies would be readily adopted once discovered, and overlook potential ethical resistance.

Additionally, I was at first surprised by (but later appreciated) the inclusion of the paragraph regarding the adoption of ‘right-to-die’ laws in the UK. My surprise was mostly because I had never considered the right to die in the context of climate change or the environment, but rather mostly in isolation as its own ethical question. However, including it here led me to connect it to an issue very much at the heart of this chapter’s themes of medicine and climate change: over-population. Overpopulation may be discussed in other parts of the book which I did not focus on, but I think this chapter suffered from its absence. Nevertheless, connecting overpopulation with right-to-die laws was non-obvious and intriguing from my perspective.

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