Generally, we see little movement in the list of the “Worlds 10 Worst Problems” when they are counted down from least to most crucial. In fact little has changed until now from late 2013 when this list was first composed, however, we would be remiss or negligent not to do some serious reshuffling to reflect the drum beats of war flowing out of Washington and North Korea. Please note, the leap from fourth to first place for “Weapons of war and mass destruction” is very significant because it can be very difficult to get this particular genie back in the bottle once it is out. Of course, when composing this list the term “most crucial” is very subjective, meaning that it depends greatly on an individual’s interest and priorities.
Like many people, I do not find what is known as the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction, or MAD to be reassuring. What the world would look like following a nuclear war is very murky, yet today it seems many people consider nuclear weapons as just another tool or option for us to use in our defense if we are attacked. The nuclear deterrent America holds is a hundred times larger than needed to stop anyone sane or rational from attacking America, and for anyone else, an arsenal of any size will be insufficient. The sad fate that conventional warfare has unleashed upon Mosul and Aleppo where death and destruction have turned once proud cities into rubble stands as a monument of man’s inhumanity towards man, however, pales to the devastation a nuclear attack would wreak.
The greatest problems faced by mankind impact the shape of our lives’ and our very existence. Most of these are issues that center on our sustainability which means we must begin to address these many problems with long term solutions. Sadly, politicians do not deal well with such things leaving mankind without a great deal of direction. As we look at the human condition we can let fate take us where it may choose or we can take control of our future by proper planning and by guiding it as best we can.
Below is a list of the world’s ten most crucial problems. Remember the position a problem holds on this list can shift from time to time as events take place, but expect most of them to remain on the list. Unless a black swan event such as a meteor heads our way this is what you have. Some problems have been grouped with the collateral issues associated with them, this may include the current “buzz words” used to describe their importance. Different people would group these issues in a variety of other ways and move about their priority. As always your comments are welcome.
10. Demographics of an aging population; As the population grows older euthanasia and the quality of life will become an issue. This must be handled in a fair, honest, humane, and compassionate way. The alternative is to simply let many older people wither and die hungry while existing in pain and squalor.
9. We must create an environment that allows and encourages people to develop fulfilling lives; This means improving the educational system and having an opportunity to find fulfilling work, seek happiness and express their individuality. It also means ending corruption and extending equal protection and fairness under the law.
8. Hunger and starvation; Severe malnutrition can make life unbearable and because of it many people only go through the motions of being alive. People that are starving cannot learn and take a role in society. Starvation and addressing the need of basic sanitation must be addressed.
7. Income inequality and economic stability; The uber-rich should not become exempt from all common woes and untouchable. The uber-rich and political elite should not comprise a special class who are immune and able to ignore the rules of society. Nor should the masses be placed into a situation where they are deemed deserving of what fruit society creates merely by being born. Fairness in handling the world’s economic systems and currencies that allow for a solid way to exchange goods and services is necessary or other world support systems will suffer or fail.
6. Man’s inability to take control of his future by creating responsive and responsible governments; The masses have been lulled into complacency, in many ways we are all slaves, this is not a new role for man. But we can think and should make an effort to do so, we must push our chosen leaders to do the right thing and make long-term plans that are sustainable. We must shape our future and the values of the society in which we live.
5. The last few years stand as proof of man’s cruelty to man. Strife between religions and tribes must end; We need to develop a new tolerance that allows people to live in peace. A safe place to live for a person and their family is one of man’s most basic needs. The political elite must not be held harmless for the grief and death they cause over large swatches of mankind. War crimes cannot be tolerated. While this is easy to say deciding exactly who is responsible for these crimes is often easier said than done.
4. Wasting Earth’s limited natural resources by not conserving and the continued destruction of our environment; I contend that many of the “green solutions” being proposed such as ethanol fuel are not a solution at all and just ways for business to profit. A solution is not truly green unless the environmental cost of “maintaining” it is very low.
3. Pollution and the resulting changes it may bring; This is showing up in oceans that are sick and being depleted of life. This also may result in crop failures. Either scenario will mean massive suffering across the world and could tear the social fabric and alter our day to day lives.
2. Overpopulation; This is the overriding problem facing Earth and the most difficult to address. If the problem of overpopulation is not addressed all the other problems on this list will most likely become much greater. Many people still rejoice in the idea that we should be “fruitful and multiply” ignoring or oblivious to the problems it creates in the long-run. The quality of life in many ways is more important than quantity.
1. Weapons of war and mass destruction; This not only includes nuclear bombs and chemical weapons but drones and the killer robots now being developed. One big mistake or going down the wrong path in developing new weapons could change life as we know it!
While people and their families go about life each day having children and doing the things we all associate with our day to day existence most people concede that something is wrong with a world where many people lack even basic sanitation and watch their children die before the age of five. I’m not saying developed countries should give everything away or bring all the people of the world up to an American standard of living. It is not our responsibility to do so and probably impossible.
In 1800 the population of the world was around 900 million, by 1900 it had soared to 1.6 billion, since then it has exploded to over 7 billion.
When you chronicle the journey from the beginning of man to our current state it becomes clear that the world has never before experienced such rapid change. This perspective helps us make sense of our fast changing chaotic world while illuminating and clarifying the responsibilities society faces. It is important we recognize this ever-quickening pace of change and keep in mind that if these problems are not addressed there may be no future for mankind or it may be much shorter and difficult than many people expect.
H/T: Bruce Wilds