Most people would probably agree that climate change is the biggest challenge we face in the 21st century. The bottom line is that we have caused tons of problems around the world. The world population has doubled since I was born, and the animal world has diminished by 60%. Although I am a mature person, I am not old, and the world should not be changing at such a rapid pace. But it does.
Animals are not the only ones suffering, we are causing issues that affect humans as well.
Hunger and related causes kill 25,000 people a day, including more than 10,000 children. Around 854 million people are estimated to be undernourished, and high food prices may force another 100 million into poverty and hunger. Nearly one billion people lack access to clean water and 2 billion lack sanitation. Furthermore, several million will be affected by global warming, and the list goes on and on.
We would all be able to resolve all the world's problems in an ideal world. But since we can't, which ones should we begin with?
Think about what you would do with 50 billion dollars if you had it.
What wold your priorities be: climate change, communicable diseases, conflicts, education, governance and corruption, malnutrition and hunger, financial instability, population migration, sanitation and water, crime, trade barriers?
If you'd had 50 billion USD, there is a good chance you would spend it on your biggest problems first... Most of us don't live in a mansion in Monaco, nor do we drive fancy cars, nor do we all wear Prada. I would love to buy a pair of Balenciaga sneakers, myself... Dressing well can enhance your perceived status among your peers. Sadly, we have built a very visual oriented society, where better-dressed men are routinely treated and served better than their sloppier counterparts. Instagram has become the model of our future romantic partner, hence the number of single people is growing by the minute. There is no question that the biggest problem in the world is that we all die and grow old, so it is no wonder that the cosmetic industry's value has grown rapidly. It is worth 511 billion today and will hit a jaw-dropping market size of $716.6 billion by 2025. I was told by a friend of mine that many people take out hefty bank loans to travel to exotic places simply to take selfies and post them to social media.
Our priorities are summed up in these few examples.
But the point is, not to prioritize problems, but prioritize solutions to the problems, and that of course could be a little bit more complicated. Take a moment to consider what you would put at the top of your priority list, and what should be at the bottom. Take a moment to consider how you would prioritize your list. You might wonder why such a list was never made before, and the answer is that prioritization is very uncomfortable. Moreover, the more money we have, the more choices we have, so it is even more difficult for those who really could contribute to solving the biggest problems in the world. In addition, they create laws and codes in order to get away with anything. Since Apple or Google have the largest scale of choices, they manipulate the tax code in order to increase profit and put it back into their business so to speak - they don't pay taxes.. The organizations at the top of the economic food chain don't even consider making a list of all the things that can help the world.
Fortunately, there are people who see the vulnerability of our mother planet and want to take action, but they are unsure of how.
Think of a restaurant where you have a huge menu to choose from, but no prices are attached. Normally, you would choose something you like and know you can afford, but without knowing the prices, we get a bit lost.
Copenhagen Consensus attempts to do this by putting a price on the world's largest issues. Using a cost-benefit analysis, the Copenhagen Consensus establishes priorities for advancing global welfare. It is based on the theory of welfare economics. The best economists in the world are trying to figure out what we can change, how much it would cost, and what the benefits would be. The group actually created a prioritized list. Probably you are thinking, why are we asking economists how to handle diseases? You should ask the doctor, or if you want to know about climate change, you ask a climatologist, but if you want to know which of the 2 to deal with first, neither of them can tell you because they simply don't know. This is economists' job because they know how to prioritize. Usually, they don't have much emotional attachment to things, so they are able to think more rationally.
Investing in certain projects will bring a negative return, while other investments are actually quite profitable. Going from the worst projects to the best, Climate Change ranked at the bottom.
Firstly, please don't get me wrong, they aren't saying that global warming isn't a problem, what they're saying is, we can do very little about it, at a very high cost. According to their estimates, we could provide clean water, sanitation, basic care, and education to every single human on earth for half the amount of money. Do we want to spend twice as much money to do little good, or do we want to spend half as much to do much more good?
Climate change is not the only problem we face. Having access to basic healthcare is great, but maintaining it will be very costly.
Malnutrition would be the next priority - 1 in 2 of the world's population lacks iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamin A, and it is very easy to provide them. If we invested just $12 billion a year into that problem, nobody would go hungry.
COVID is the biggest problem on earth today. Once again, we need to decide whether to treat or prevent and this presents another dilemma for some. However, economists know that prevention is cheaper than treatment, and for the money we spend on treatment, we could do X amount of good, but if we spent that money on preventions, we would prevent the virus from spreading by 10X. If we do it correctly, it is a good plan. At present, vaccines are not known to be effective, so this problem must be investigated further, but that is a totally separate issue.
It puts us in a different perspective if we are attempting to create a list of our own priorities. So rather than focusing a lot of energy on problems that we have little control over, why not focus on those we can do a lot about?
I know that many of you think climate change is more important than the health of some guy in Bangladesh right now. Because you have plans for the future and want to travel, you don't think how many people have to die to make your dreams come true. Traveling to beautiful places in the world and to have a chance to take a picture with a Bengal tiger in the background is priceless for many.
That is why we run into problems like that in the first place, and that is why in an ideal world we would not have those issues to solve, but we don't live in an ideal world. When we are facing a problem, we should try to solve it rationally and not emotionally, because our emotions got us into the bad situation in the first place. Because we didn't think ahead - greed and hatred reigned supreme, causing world wars and hunger. US government spends $98 billion per year in nuclear weapons while it would cost $3.5 billion to deliver food to the most needed, is a fact that speaks for itself - we don't live in a perfect word.
We no longer know how to help one another, instead we spend money that could feed others on protecting ourselves.
We would not trust someone even if they truly wished to help us as we think of what they will expect in return. As a result, most people don't even try to help others because it feels weird. Hence, all the problems in the world. To put it plainly, by not helping others - we don't help ourselves. We just take advantage of any situation we find ourselves in. In essence, we are always on guard, because con-artists abound everywhere!
We can do so little to affect world change on an individual level, and one might wonder if the effort is even worthwhile. However, if everyone from now on began thinking "help" over "gain", the world would be a much better place. This act might not be a solution to today's problems, but it won't create any new ones either. Every individual can already make a positive impact in his local community. You just have to help people. Even if you don't have money, share your wisdom, experience, and knowledge with others and help them grow. You might have younger kids in your family or younger, inexperienced co-workers. Leaders shouldn't be focused on self-recognition, but instead be the leader who helps their people grow and mentors them to mastery of their own level rather than punishes them. Teach them so they can do the same for those who follow them in the future. It is through this strategy that you can reach into people's hearts and build a loyal crowd that you can really trust. You will not only know they will stand by you during times of weakness, but you will also know that the future of the world is in good hands.