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Medical Research or Environmental Preservation?

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Image of the destruction caused by debris flow in California. (http://gallery.usgs.gov)

Image of the destruction caused by debris flow in California. (http://gallery.usgs.gov)

Image of the destruction caused by debris flow in California. (http://gallery.usgs.gov)

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Debris flow deposition in Baltschiederbach, Switzerland, after the stream by the same name transported bed load deposits of several meters in height to the village. (Andreas Götz, http://www.planat.ch)

Should governments focus their budgets more on medical research or environmental preservation?

In the modern world, technology is constantly progressing. Advances in medical science are heavily pursued, especially when compared to times past. For instance, people no longer have to worry about colds becoming deadly because we now have vaccines and other medications to prevent them from escalating into pneumonia. And more and more funds are provided to further cancer research, in the hopes of finding a cure. However, modern society also has more frequent problems; environmental conditions are getting worse as the time passes. In this situation, the government must make a tough decision—either to focus their budget on medical research or on environmental preservation. Personally, I would choose the latter.

First and foremost, we all know that the power of nature is unimaginably strong and most natural disasters are unavoidable. Thus, nature can be more horrible than disease. According to a large body of research conducted by experts in a variety of scientific areas, it is believed that if humans started realizing the vast devastation they are causing the environment and began preserving, rather than ruining nature, it would not be hard to prevent natural disasters from occurring. For instance, “debris flow” is happening more frequently in the world; debris flow usually results from soil flexibility, which is caused by a lack of green plants, such as trees and grass. Technological progress usually results in a high demand for raw materials, especially wood. Thus, a vicious circle is formed— the more advances we make in technology, the more trees we cut down; thus, we have  more roots that are dying and decomposing, and we have a greater shortage of trees, which are the main  causes of frequent debris flow. When debris flow occurs, it has the ability to ruin a whole village or town and could lead to uncountable deaths.

Secondly, by analysis and observation, we have learned that many illnesses are caused by bad environmental conditions. For instance, in recent years in Beijing, China, the number of people suffering from an inflammation of the respiratory tract has increased significantly. Scientists found that this increase was due to the extremely dense fog in Beijing. Actually, to be precise, it is not a fog, but a haze, caused by such human behaviors as discharging contaminated liquids from factories and releasing exhaust gas from automobiles. Thus, it becomes clear that many human diseases are the direct result of problems in the environment. So, if we wish to decrease the occurrence of these diseases, we must first pay more attention and provide more financial power to environmental preservation and enforcement of environmental laws.

Another factor that should not be ignored is that for most common diseases and illnesses, our medical science has already improved enough to prevent or totally heal them. Even for some rare and severe diseases, doctors are gradually coming up with ideas to withstand them. However, the “illness” of the environment is quite a different story. Because of many human behaviors, the global average temperature of the earth is continually increasing. Under this situation, glaciers are melting and a large variety of animals that used to live in cold areas are endangered, which may eventually cause all of them to die. In the meantime, it is predicted that if those animals do die out, then other species will be greatly affected, too. Thus, what humans need to figure out — and sooner, rather than later — is how to keep themselves alive.

As the statements I’ve provided above support, I strongly maintain the opinion that governments should pay more attention to and provide more financial aid toward preserving the environment. And we need to act on this notion very soon. For what good are advances in medical science, if we no longer have the earth and its people to benefit from them?

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Medical Research or Environmental Preservation?