Thursday, April 9, 2020

Pandemics Make List Of The "Worlds10 Worst Problems"

Future Generations Depend On Us
Surprisingly, even with warnings over the years that the world could be ravaged by a highly infectious disease, the subject has never gained much traction or been included on the list of  the "Worlds 10 Worst Problems." With the emergence of Covid-19 infectious disease and pandemics have become a much greater concern. This list seldom needs to be altered or reshuffled. Generally, we see little movement in the list as counted down from least to most crucial. The last reshuffling occurred in May of last year when artificial intelligence (AI) was moved up due to growing concerns that while technology held great potential it also created the dangerous risk that it might create an environment where mankind could be rendered redundant.

Before that, the last update was to reflect the growing drumbeats of war and the advancement of WMDs. This moved war to the top of the list during the verbal dust-ups between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. That situation has cooled but other problems have intensified. Between Pakistan and India the disputed border region of Kashmir again has become an issue, both these countries have nuclear bombs which increases the fears a major conflict could occur. Then there is Ukraine where warmongers continue to push up against Russia and Putin which has no intention of backing down and last but not least some people seem hellbent on escalating the bad blood with Iran into a full-fledged conflict. These situations jumped "Weapons of war and mass destruction" from fourth to first place.

As for the threat of infectious disease, local authorities in major cities across the US have been warning ever since SARS the world should prepare for something like covid-19 (ever since SARS). Dr. Steven Hatfill, virologist and professor of medicine at George Washington University, warns that more viruses like Coronavirus will emerge in the coming decades. With population densities rising in metropolitan areas around the world this has become inevitable. Dr. Hatfill stated;

 “This will pass, by the way. This is not the Omega Man scenario… We’ll get through this. There are worse things out there with 50% mortality rates in animal models. These are the ones that are still to come. So, this is probably our last warning from mother nature that we need to take emerging infectious disease and give it the same prominence as we do national defense.”

Bring Out Your Dead May Not Be Locked In The Past
When composing this list, the term "most crucial" is very subjective and depends greatly on an individual's interests and priorities. Today's change recognizes that mankind can be blindsided by mother nature. While the idea of a pandemic so deadly that people are told to bring their dead family members to the curb to be disposed of is terrifying it still exists. With this in mind, where it fits into the list is a challenge.

The problems facing mankind impact and shape our lives. Many of these are issues that center on our sustainability and can only be addressed with long term solutions. History has shown politicians do not deal well with such things leaving society 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 and prioritize these issues differently.

Something such as covid-19 or far more deadly pandemics should not be ignored, they constitute a genuine threat to mankind. It has been joined with natural events moving into the existing categories as third from the top. While covid-19 has been rather mild it warns how fragile life and our institutions really are. Below is the updated list and 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.  Hunger and starvation;    Severe malnutrition can make life unbearable and because of it many people only go through the motions of being alive. Starving people cannot learn and take a role in society. Starvation and addressing the need for basic sanitation must be addressed.

8.   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 deemed deserving of an equal share of the wealth society creates merely by being born. Fairness in handling the world's economic systems and currencies that allow us to exchange goods and services is necessary or other world support systems will suffer or fail.

7.   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. Still, we can think and should make an effort to push our 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. Sadly, a sharp rise in Orwellian trends that lead to police states is threatening the concept of freedom in countries across the globe.

6.   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 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 swathes 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.

5.   Creating 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. Today many people see expanding the ability of machines to think might help us achieve this goal but there also exists the possibility that a machine might reach the point of self-actualization and become a threat to our existence.

 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 that results in climate change or pandemics killing a large part of the population;  Pollution is showing up in oceans that are sick and being depleted of life. This also may result in rising oceans and crop failures. Covid-19 has been a wake-up call to the risk of a global pandemic that could be far more deadly. Either of these scenarios could inflict massive suffering across the world altering how we live our day to day lives.

 2.    Overpopulation;   This is the overriding problem facing Earth partly because it feeds into most of the other problems and is difficult to address. If the problem of overpopulation is not faced 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.

Massive changes have taken place over the last two hundred and fifty years. History viewed in the framework of man's time on Earth forms an interesting perspective. The oldest fully developed humans based on DNA research supports the theory that Africa was the area man first inhabited around 170,000 years ago. 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 man's journey from the beginning 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. We must 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.

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