Haiti has caused me to consider lately the problems of the world. The crushing poverty and the corruption in Haiti made me realize how good our own country is and how lucky we are in comparison, but then I read the article in the link below about the 10 worst places to live in the world, and I realize that there may be many places worse than even Haiti.
Deciding what constitutes the worst place, depends on what would irritate and terrorize you the most. If you fear pollution above all else, Urumqi China would be the worst place in the world for you. If you think corruption is the worst, you wouldn’t like Somalia. If you value your freedom and hate dictatorship you would shun North Korea, If you are afraid to walk down the street, Iraq would terrorize you. If you are afraid of being murdered El Salvador would be the scariest. If you care about what your money can buy you would hate Zimbabwe with its million percent inflation, where you need sacks of money to pay for a loaf of bread. If you are a feminist you would hate Yemen, where women are the most oppressed. If you want a long life you should shun Swaziland which has the worst life expectancy. If you value education, Mali which has the lowest literacy rate would astonish you. If you think freedom of speech is the most important you would despise Eritrea where all private media is banned. If you are a pacifist, you probably think we should get out of Afghanistan which has a long history of war.
The world’s worst problems don’t have to reside in a certain place however. They may infect the mind. Many people think terrorism is the worst, but terrorism occurs in the mind of bad people everywhere. Some people think Homosexuality is the worst problem in the world. One preacher thought Nicolaitans who are Christian heretics are the worst problem. Some people think drug use, is the worst because it wrecks lives, families, and is the major cause of most crime.
Many people think the things that create the most deaths and human suffering are the worst problems in the world. How many millions die of malnutrition, poverty, disease, or pollution? Please look at the UN’s Millennium Project’s target goals on the second link. Do you share these priorities?
I personally think that many of these problems are interconnected. For example lack of education causes overpopulation, which causes war over land, resources, and food. Overcrowding causes, the lack of water, resources, and food, the lack of sanitation, and the spread of disease.
Overcrowding causes the decimation of forests and the elimination of wildlife.
For these reasons my vote for the greatest problem in the world is overpopulation.
The solution to the problem is education, especially for girls and women, and the availability of safe birth control devices, and prosperity.
I think the second most important problem is corruption. Many nations have the resources, but the food, water, medicine, oil, etc. doesn’t get to the people that need them the most because the powerful simply take it for themselves or sell it for profit. Corruption allows the powerful to pollute the land, cut the forests and kill off all of the animals. The solution to corruption is a strong government and a commitment to community instead of self. Instead of individuals controlling everything, the power and the resources should be controlled by teams of three people. The rule of squares means that two people are four times as hard to corrupt as one, and a team of three is nine times as hard to corrupt. In Iraq if a team of three controlled the oil, one Shiite, one Sunni and one Kurd, They would each distrust the others so as a team would be very difficult to bribe. They would think of the welfare of the country instead of their own faction.
World poverty would be my third biggest problem. All of the other problems, overpopulation, corruption, scarcity, disease, war, and greed, would all be lessened if not eliminated if everyone made a living wage. The solution is to give everyone jobs, and provide loans and micro-loans so businesses can get started. The rich nations need to give the poor countries a helping hand like America helped Germany and Japan after World War Two. They need to provide starter jobs healing the planet and building infrastructure. Once people have enough money to get off the ground with basic necessities, they can then expand into services and luxuries. The UN’s Millennium project is a good blueprint.
Coming in fourth, Water and Sanitation are tied together. More than a billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and two billion do not have access to even a basic latrine. Many of the cities in the world still just dump their untreated sewage in the rivers and then the next city downstream sucks it up as drinking water. As a result almost ten million children under the age of five die each year, most from diarrhea, malaria and other water borne diseases. There are simple solutions to this. Install safe sewage systems and water supply systems. In rural areas, simple and cheap water filters can save thousands of lives and prevent blindness and the other many other terrible consequences of parasites, and simple composting toilets can turn a liability into an asset. Water is disappearing due to global warming just as all of these additional people need more. Aquifers are being sucked dry. We need to do better at conservation, start replenishing the deep aquifers and harvesting rainfall with small local dams and household cisterns.
Energy, specifically fossil fuels would be my fifth greatest problem. Global Warming, Peak oil, and the dependence on foreign countries that support terrorists are the problem. Renewable energy and conservation is the answer.
Disease, pestilence, and pandemics would be sixth but could easily jump up to the number one problem in the world if something more virulent than H1N1 comes along. Universal health care everywhere and vaccinations to eliminate diseases like measles and smallpox are essential.
Seventh on my list would be education. Education especially of girls prevent overpopulation and increase economic development. Highly educated people everywhere are necessary for the research and development needed to solve all of the other problems. Computer access and televised remote teaching can bring costs down and provide access to more people everywhere.
Eighth on the list would be war and terrorism. Massive battles between equal forces like what we amassed during the cold war will no longer happen. We need to work more closely with other nations to weed out terrorists and use international forces instead of unilaterally trying to be the police of the world. We need to get to the root causes of wars and terrorism and win hearts and minds instead of just bombing our enemies into submission.
Ninth on the list would be the destruction of the environment and the elimination of species. Biodiversity and protection and replanting of forests worldwide will help offset the pollution we create.
Number ten on my list would be food production. We will have three or four billion more people to feed in the next fifty years, and the earth is just about at capacity right now. The productivity of the land is going down, oil based fertilizers and pesticides are becoming too expensive and damaging the earth. Irrigation water is disappearing, The oceans are becoming less fertile and productive, and all of this is happening just as we need food more. The solution is to turn to organic sustainable farming and fishing and we need to eat less meat.
So these are my priorities of the world’s worst problems. They will probably change hourly. What are your priorities and what are your solutions to what you think are the world’s greatest problems?