View Poll Results: Which of these would do the most good for the world?

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  • Providing everyone in the world with access to clean water

    8 10.13%
  • Providing everyone in the world with enough nutritious food

    4 5.06%
  • Providing everyone in the world with free, high-quality K-12 education

    6 7.59%
  • Providing everyone in the world with access to Western-quality health care

    1 1.27%
  • Providing everyone in the world with access to information and communication (e.g. the internet)

    0 0%
  • Bringing peace, stability, and safety to every part of the world

    18 22.78%
  • Bringing democracy and freedom to every part of the world

    3 3.80%
  • Developing a clean, cheap source of energy that could be produced and distributed anywhere

    12 15.19%
  • Developing an effective, efficient transportation infrastructure in all parts of the world

    0 0%
  • Other (please describe)

    27 34.18%
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Thread: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

  1. #51
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mach View Post
    The notion that stability and peace would help the most to me, is bad. It's what all the dicators and ruling tyranical single party government say. Yeah, yeah, we're corrupt, we stifle all individual freedom, but hey, we bring peace and stability! Trying to "fix" peace or stability seems a lot like trying to treat symptoms rather than the underlying illness.

    I would prefer a culture of freedom. Economic, political, along with sufficient education to allow a majority of people to understand that freedom, and act on it.
    A "culture of freedom" is a meaningless term without control - control so that people don't get the kind of freedom you don't want them to have, like the freedom to kill anyone they can. So people form governments and governments are given a monopoly on violence to enforce each society's wills. There's no real end and beginning between governance and peace and stability - one causes the other all the time - a tyrannic government brings instability, and instability often results in various groups grabbing power through violent means. To end that vicious cycle, we have to stop the fighting and bring the various groups together to share power and bind them to a governance system.

    Corruption is very much tied to culture, it's found for example that countries with French origin system have more corruption than those with civil law systems. It's something that retards progress, but not as much wars can.
    Last edited by nonpareil; 04-28-12 at 03:51 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Free_Radical View Post

    And I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was making an appeal to the philosophical body of work of the founders, the worth and content of which should be well-known to anyone with a cursory understanding of basic history and philosophy.

    Brian

  2. #52
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by cmakaioz View Post
    If I were to throw all the major problems into one big basket, I'd say that the biggest problem is the normalization/acceptance of violence as an appropriate means of resolving conflict.

    People are starving...NOT because they won't or can't work, but because they are forced to live under systems in which most of the worth and application of what they produce is stolen from them, and then (due to purchase-based access) we end up with people who work full time (more hours than they would as hunter-gatherers), and yet still end up in poverty.

    People are ignorant...NOT because the won't or can't learn, but because elite interests who benefit from people having a grossly distorted impression of of the world maintain such a system.

    People are sick, and dying in huge numbers to preventable disease...NOT because we lack the resources or knowledge to prevent or cure such illness, but because the coercive economic system places private profit above need, and so wherever the two collide (which is often), profit tends to prevail at the expense of life.

    and so on...

    The key challenge with the acceptance of violence is that there is a massive double-standard involved...street-level violence is widely condemned or recognized as unethical...but SYSTEMIC violence is given largely a free pass or (in the case of military actions) even lionized.
    Military violence is given a free pass depending on who's the perpetrators - currently it favours the countries with the strongest military, and moral force in the world.

    And what's the solution? Forced distribution? How do you make it work?
    Quote Originally Posted by Free_Radical View Post

    And I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was making an appeal to the philosophical body of work of the founders, the worth and content of which should be well-known to anyone with a cursory understanding of basic history and philosophy.

    Brian

  3. #53
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    I voted peace & stability as it is the closest to begin correct, but even that answer is incomplete.

    Q: What is the biggest problem facing humanity? A: Humanity.

    Human nature. Inherent greed, whether it be for money or power or both. There's always been, and there always will be, somebody that wants the wealth and/or power of their entire society. And there always has been, and there always will be, a larger number of people that are either unable or unwilling to tell them 'no'. And for everybody who wants wealth and power, there is always at least one who wants the same wealth and power... hence wars, civil strife, disagreements, and so on.

    Our globe runs the gamut from a somewhat civilized form of disagreement in that there are at least elections and reasonably peaceable changes of power, to warlord-driven societies with virtually no societal structure, to everything in between. The bottom line is that nobody ever all agrees on anything, and humanity cannot focus on itself as a result and for it's own good. "Live and let live" is a wonderful idea, but unrealistic as long as humanity and human nature exists as it does.

    Example: Years ago during the Rwanda civil wars I heard a farmer interviewed on NPR. He said that he planted crops, and one army came along and burned his crops... for reasons he never was really sure of, but he suspected it was done so to prevent the other side from having access to them. He replanted, and a couple months later the other side's army came along and did the same thing, and for essentially the same reason(s). This happened three or four times before he finally gave up and stopped planting altogether.

    I have read, and I think this is very plausible, that our planet can grow more than sufficient food to feed itself. More than we need (at present), actually. But, it is politics and the such that prevents proper growing and/or distribution... hence, famine and starvation result. And all for what? Because some greedy power-hungry a-hole is willing to sacrifice large portions of their own people just so they can gain the wealth and power they crave.
    It's amazing how often the a-hole feel that they are just protecting themselves. People in power get unsecured about their own security, afraid that they will lose their position, and wondering who's going to grab their power next. There are those who are secured enough to overreach themselves too, but it's still amazing how some look at killing a whole village as just destroying their enemy before the enemy comes for them and thus entirely justified.
    Quote Originally Posted by Free_Radical View Post

    And I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was making an appeal to the philosophical body of work of the founders, the worth and content of which should be well-known to anyone with a cursory understanding of basic history and philosophy.

    Brian

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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    But the reason corrupt governments even worry about stealing water/food is because it's in such short supply. In this country, it doesn't even cross our minds that the government would steal our drinking water, because water is so abundant it's virtually free, so there wouldn't be any need to steal it.
    They aren't stealing because those things are in short supplies for them, they steal it so they can sell it and make money which they use to send their children to Europe or the US and provide themselves with luxuries. You don't imagine that your government will burn down towns that hold different religious beliefs or support the other party either - and it's not because there are no differences.

    Just like with democracy, I think the causal link between water and stability is far stronger in the opposite direction. Lack of clean water is frequently a CAUSE of conflict, whereas conflict itself is rarely the primary cause of lack of clean water (although it can certainly exacerbate the problem). IMO, providing people with clean water is the most important because it addresses the root cause of many of the other things: For example, 50% of the global disease burden is caused by lack of clean water; poverty and lack of education are often caused by people having to spend the majority of their day gathering water from miles away; conflicts are often fueled by water shortages (e.g. Israel/Palestine, Sudan/Chad, Somalia, Pakistan), etc.
    Do you seriously believe that water is the root cause of the ongoing conflicts in Israel/Palestine, Somalia, and Pakistan right now? I think you are trying to revise the facts to suit your argument.
    Quote Originally Posted by Free_Radical View Post

    And I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was making an appeal to the philosophical body of work of the founders, the worth and content of which should be well-known to anyone with a cursory understanding of basic history and philosophy.

    Brian

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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by nonpareil View Post
    First of all, India is not entirely stable or peaceful, there are pockets where there's periodic violence. In fact, given it's societal structure, a lot of people in the lower class and women are subjected to abuse, meaning a large section of society do not have security. Ghana is not a good example given its successive military coupes.
    Well that's my point, it's exceedingly rare for a country in dire poverty to enjoy peace and stability. India and Ghana are the only two I can think of which even come close, and as you pointed out, they have their problems too. This suggests to me that poverty is the primary cause of conflict, rather than the other way around.

    Question: Do you think these countries would have been worse or better if there had been a full fledged war or armed struggle?
    Obviously worse off; I'm just pointing out that poverty usually causes conflicts. The causal link in the opposite direction exists, but is much weaker.

    If material well-being leads to peace and stability then one would surmise that when a society's standard of living rise, it's trajectory will continue upward, and yet, almost every society is the past has fallen after reaching greatness - why is that?
    I'm not sure what societies you are referring to, or what you mean by "fallen," but very few societies have had their standard of living drop significantly after reaching what we think of today as middle-income status or high-income status. And the ones that do typically have their own idiosyncratic reasons: South Africa (HIV/AIDS), Argentina (extremely bad governance), Russia (alcoholism). Generally, most societies that fall even further behind are those which are already stuck in poverty traps.

    A lot of Asian African nations were actually on a path to doing well right after WWII with improving infrastructures, and yet many of them fell apart during the cold war - why is that?
    I don't know which countries you're referring to. But presumably some combination of conflict caused by external powers and/or bad governance caused by external powers. Both of which have largely receded since the end of the Cold War. Most conflicts in the world today are civil wars, rather than international wars.

    I have experienced countries after wars, and in my personal experience, you need peace and some semblance of security in order to build a life, and then the rest will follow. Infrastructure like water, energy, even housing, needs to be maintained, in a war or armed conflict, people think about getting to safety first, the water plant breaking down is the least of their worries. In a war, you can't build water purification plants, highway to deliver food, or power plant and so on, but assuming you can, since there's no law and order, those resources will be controlled by the people with the most gun power, and if there are rival armed groups, the violence become destructive pretty quickly. Either way, the majority of people suffers.

    You might think education is key, but people care about safety before education. Dead people don't learn. Furthermore, people who are educated are sometimes the worse perpetrators of war crimes - a lot of the Communist leaders in 20th century were well educated. Look at the US, with all the educated people in the government, with the resources for intelligence gathering and so on, they decided to start 2 wars that costs hundred of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, and still leave millions miserable.
    None of this is wrong, I just think it fails to grasp why conflicts begin in the first place. If conflict is the "root cause" from which all of those other problems stem, then it would just boil down to the personalities of individual leaders (and therefore be nothing more than the luck of the draw as to which countries find peace and which go to war). I think that this approach is too "in the weeds" and ignores the broad causes of conflict.

    If water, food and energy will bring peace, then you have an easy formula for Afghanistan and Iraq - but that wasn't the case, often wars beget wars, until one group of eventual winners arise or they learn to share the what's left.
    Neither Afghans nor Iraqis have sufficient water or energy, and Afghans don't have sufficient food either.
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by nonpareil View Post
    They aren't stealing because those things are in short supplies for them, they steal it so they can sell it and make money which they use to send their children to Europe or the US and provide themselves with luxuries.
    Right, but they wouldn't be ABLE to sell water to provide themselves with luxuries, if it were plentiful. If water was as abundant everywhere in the world as it is in North America, then it would cease to be a cause of corruption and conflict, because it wouldn't be worth enough to fight over.

    Do you seriously believe that water is the root cause of the ongoing conflicts in Israel/Palestine, Somalia, and Pakistan right now?
    It's certainly a big component of it. Take the Middle East, for example. Both Israel and the West Bank receive their water primarily from underground aquifers and/or the Jordan River, and are located in an arid climate. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, Israel often diverts more than "its share" (as the Palestinians see it) of the water before it ever reaches the West Bank.

    Additionally, it promotes conflict in less direct ways. Less available clean water means more disease, more time spent gathering water (instead of doing something more productive), and less time spent in schools. These things, in turn, cause more poverty...and a poor, uneducated, sickly population often leads to violence.

    I think you are trying to revise the facts to suit your argument.
    The role of water shortages in global conflict is well-documented:
    BBC NEWS | Middle East | Water war leaves Palestinians thirsty
    IRIN Africa | SOMALIA: Fight over water, pasture sends hundreds fleeing | Somalia | Conflict | East African Food Crisis | Food Security | Refugees/IDPs
    Sucking dry an African giant, Lake Chad | OurWorld 2.0
    UNEP: Water, Conflict, and Cooperation
    Last edited by Kandahar; 04-28-12 at 09:06 AM.
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  7. #57
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by FreedomFromAll View Post
    We should get whats inside our own borders in order before we fantasize about how we could help the world.
    This I do not know about...completely.
    A nations level of civilization can be retarded by neighboring countries lack of development.....by this I mean morals and ethics.
    Mexico is an example.

  8. #58
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by earthworm View Post
    This I do not know about...completely.
    A nations level of civilization can be retarded by neighboring countries lack of development.....by this I mean morals and ethics.
    Mexico is an example.
    Are you generalizing the entire Mexican population? I have a good friend that lives in Mexico there certainly is nothing wrong with his or his families morals or ethics.

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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post


    collapsing birth rates in the first world.
    Seriously?
    "Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough."
    -FDR

  10. #60
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    Re: What is the biggest problem facing humanity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Right, but they wouldn't be ABLE to sell water to provide themselves with luxuries, if it were plentiful. If water was as abundant everywhere in the world as it is in North America, then it would cease to be a cause of corruption and conflict, because it wouldn't be worth enough to fight over.
    So many logical flaws here:

    1. How many conflicts are started over water of all the conflicts in existence?
    2. What is "abundance"? Why can't you sell something that is in abundance? There's no limit to the number of people who can use a software, and yet Microsoft can still sell it and make billions.
    3. What make you think that water is "abundance" is America?
    4. Why would something in "abundance" cease to be a cause of conflict? Many of the wars in Africa was a result of their richness in resources, not a lack there of.


    It's certainly a big component of it. Take the Middle East, for example. Both Israel and the West Bank receive their water primarily from underground aquifers and/or the Jordan River, and are located in an arid climate. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, Israel often diverts more than "its share" (as the Palestinians see it) of the water before it ever reaches the West Bank.
    And yet water is the not the sticking point in the negotiations, land and settlements are, why is that? Is your theory then that if those two countries have access to a secure water supply, they will cease to fight over land and settlements issues?


    Additionally, it promotes conflict in less direct ways. Less available clean water means more disease, more time spent gathering water (instead of doing something more productive), and less time spent in schools. These things, in turn, cause more poverty...and a poor, uneducated, sickly population often leads to violence.
    Except when a conflict resulted in a poor, uneducated sickly population who can't then build infrastructure for water, food or energy. Can you honestly deny that conflicts destroy infrastructures and that you can't build infrastructures unless the fighting stops? If you don't have the infrastructure to delivery food, water and energy - then what is the point of your arguement?

    I can cite you cases of serial murderers in the US, it doesn't make any arguement that serial murderers are the main cause of death in America true. Anecdotal evidence are just that: anecdotal evidence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Free_Radical View Post

    And I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was making an appeal to the philosophical body of work of the founders, the worth and content of which should be well-known to anyone with a cursory understanding of basic history and philosophy.

    Brian

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