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What is the single scientific advance which would do most to help us reduce poverty across the globe?

PM Gordon Brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown

What is the single scientific advance which would do most to help us reduce poverty across the globe?

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19 Responses

  1. Education of women across the world! There is a lot of scientific evidence that educating women leads to better health, better lifestyle among offspring, and ultimately improves the chances of eliminating poverty.

  2. Dear Gordon, the single best advance would be a breakthrough in the prevention or treatment of HIV AIDS, which claims the lives of so many young breadwinners in poor parts of Africa and Asia and leaves families destitute.

  3. As more people are kept poor by recurring famine rather than disease, the development of a disease-resistant, drought-resistant, waterlogging- resistant, nitrogen fixing (self-fertilizing) crop plant producing high protein content and high oil content seeds, would aid the greatest number of people . The only way to do such a thing, however, would be by genetic engineering.

  4. Delivering affordable treatments against infection diseases to third world countries must be a priority, Infectious diseases kill over 25% of all humans and are a huge health burden to the world. These include well known big killers, such as HIV, TB and malaria, but also neglected diseases such as African sleeping sickness. which also infects cattle, reducing production by ~80%, Thus cheap, easy to administer treatments would save millions of lives and reduce the health burden dramatically, allowing central Africa and other affected countries to have an economic future, a must for world poverty to be dramatically reduced.

  5. The ability to implant a gene into all politicians (and the rest of us wouldn’t be a bad idea) which enables them to see another’s point of view. This hopefully would end wars, which have always been the major cause of poverty on the planet.

  6. Expansion of our global telecommunications system to provide education to all areas of the globe. A ‘University of the World’ could be established to provide a programme of education in many languages through the worldwide web. Assuming that these populations have adequate food, fresh water and health care, I think that better education would at this time do most to reduce poverty. There is clearly a link between poverty and lack of education. Rather than looking to new inventions we can use our existing technology in novel and innovative ways.

  7. Nuclear Fusion.

    Large scale, viable nuclear fusion. Quite possibly based on an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Polywell reactor and not ITER style thermonuclear fusion reactor..

  8. If one asks the question as to what single scientific advance most reduced poverty in the developed world (for which we have all the historical evidence), the perhaps uncomfortable answer would be that one cannot identify a single scientific advance. Rather, scientific advances across the board in public health, technology and agriculture all acted in concert.

    Although you pose question during National Science and Engineering Week, I think the real answer lies in the political, rather than natural, sciences. Globally, there has not been the political will to apply those scientific advances we have already made to conquer poverty. Why should any further scientific advances be more likely to affect global poverty?

  9. A source of very cheap energy, i.e. one that far outstrips demand, and one that has little, if any, long term environmetal effects.

    With energy virtually unlimited, we could grow food anywhere: at the poles or under the ocean. We could make clean water for everyone from sea water or sewage. We could launch our un-recyclable waste into the sun. At present, fusion power is the only hope for this, in whatever form, and such a dream appears to be many decades away.

  10. A fast, cheap and sensitive point of care testing device capable of detecting the most prominant diseases in the third world would go along way in the early treatment/prevention of these diseases, therefore helping to reduce poverty in many countires.

  11. An unfortunate (and unpleasant) truth is that whatever advances are made in increasing public health and agriculture the real underlying problem is population and the more people who survive the other problems will just increase and recur.

    Hence the real challenge is to create good contraceptives that are acceptable in the Developing World (many of our current mechanisms employed in the Western World have very low acceptance levels, due to different social attitudes that will not be simply circumvented by education). It is awareness of these attitudes in informing our scientific devleopment targets that is crucial to achieving implementable breakthroughs.

  12. If science could wipe out greed and erradicate tax avoidance and tax evasion, governments could fund research into all the other suggestions above. Why do people go to such extreme lengths to not pay tax, when they have so much money to begin with?

    And no, I am not a rich person, I am a teacher.

  13. The most important scientific advance must be in education. There will never be a single gadget or potion that will eliminate hunger, disease, war….. However, teach the poor the science that is birth control and health care, growing food, drilling wells…. and as the saying goes; you teach them to look after themselves.

  14. One of the major challenges in developing countries (which poverty referes to in this case) is the inability of the populace to be productive because of ill health. Poor health costs people both in quality of life and their economy.

    Currently, 1.2 billion people (lack of access to safe water and 2.6 billion (40% of the world population) lack adequate sanitation. Half of hospital beds are occupied by diseases which are a direct result of lack of safe water.

    The future is not looking particuarly bright as the pace of population growth and the rate of environmental pollution has not halted.

    So in my opinion, the biggest stride in tackling poverty could be made through scientific and technological advances in provision of clean water to those who currently don’t have it (i.e. almost half the world).

    In a nutshell

    Adequate safe water = Healthier populace = productive people = poverty reduction

    Further links on world water and sanitation issues.

    International Water Management Institute
    http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/
    Water supply and sanitation collaborative council
    http://www.wsscc.org/
    World Water Assessment Programme (UNESCO)
    http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/

  15. Sir I do not believe that science is needed to end poverty.I believe that global communication,the EU and beilderberg group included should enter into discussions to remove the debt of third world countries.This would allow their economies to grow rather than being eternally in debt to countries that still pillage their land.

  16. Dear Sir,
    I don’t think scientific explanations are needed to end poverty. It is just if we want to end it and take some steps we can reduce poverty,if we do so we end poverty not only reduce it. Preventing diseases,growing food, more gadgets,etc. You might say that they are scientific, I may agree,but you don’t entirely need to depend on it.

  17. A cheap accurate & robust lie detector, distributed freely and used widely to tackle corruption which surely is a primary cause of unnecessary poverty in so many countries that have rich natural resources, the benefits of which never reach the populace.

  18. Benevolent artificial intelligence; humans cannot be trusted to rule ourselves fairly. Evolution has shaped us to be greedy and self-serving – not great characteristics for determining the distribution of resources.

    Alternatively, near-infinite resources – as already mentioned, a cheap supply of inexhaustible energy, and nano-scale assemblers to build any resources, machinery or food needed out of waste atoms.

    Given our increasing population, expansion off the Earth’s surface into the unlimited space of, well, space might be a good idea too.

  19. I believe the one advancement that could lead to reduction of poverty is not just science.
    Education, not just to woman but all, then third world countries can be more independent on supplying foods and income that suits there circumstances. Education will also educate the need for no war, the reduction of family sizes and he need to respect our planet.
    Education cannot be under-estimated.

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