The example I've been using to show the limits of techo-optimism has been the BP spill. We could've stopped it from happening, but we couldn't reverse it once it happened. And we know a lot more about managing oil spills than about manipulating the atmosphere. But reading Atul Gawande's article on dying brought another example to mind: cancer.
Cancer, of course, has been a long-term problem. For decades now, we've put an enormous amount of money into researching cures and treatments. We've thrown our best minds at the problem. And we've made some remarkable advances. But not nearly enough of them. Insofar as we've been waging a war on cancer, there's a very good argument that we're losing, and it's not clear when, or whether, we'll turn it around.
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