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January 12, 1970

Dawn or Doom

JAMA. 1970;211(2):292. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170020056011

Year-end 1969 witnessed a series of thoughtful essays on the possibility or impossibility of the betterment of society. In an editorial in Science Dubos1 decries the likelihood that the exponential rate of production of men and materiel, which has characterized the 19th and 20th centuries, can continue without causing destructive disequilibrium. He calls for "development of a nearly 'closed' system in which materials will retain their value throughout the system, by being recycled instead of discarded."

Although the tone of Dubos' editorial is generally optimistic, he warns that creation of a "steady state" will be difficult, that many persons may be alarmed because they will equate the change with stagnation and decadence, and that reorientation of scientists to new endeavors will be essential.

Some of the citizens in the world's wealthiest nation have assumed that diversion of funds now being used for defense and space exploration will cure societal