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Critical Global Issues
Global issues can be defined as any social, economic, political and environmental issues that affect the world in a catastrophic way. Living in the current world certainly has its uncertainties and challenges. There are numerous critical global issues that need immediate attention. Although progress toward solving them is being made, it is rather slow.

Five Critical Global Issues

  1. Biosecurity: Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to reduce the spread or introduction of infectious diseases in animals, plants and human beings. The goal of biosecurity is to prevent various biological risk factors whether natural, accidental or man-made. These risk factors have the potential to cause mass destruction, killing millions of people and causing huge economic loss and instability.
  2. Promoting Effective Altruism: Effective altruism can be described as various ways to benefit others as much as possible using one’s own resources. It involves devoting all kinds of altruistic behavior like time, money, energy and attention to people’s well-being. The four main focus areas of effective altruism are poverty reduction, meta effective altruism, the far future and animal suffering.Charity is one of the many ways to promote effective altruism. In the United States alone, there are about one million charities receiving a total of approximately $200 billion a year. Also, it is not necessary to be a millionaire to be effectively altruistic; even the smallest donation can make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Social Hostility: Social hostility can also be referred to as conflicts or wars caused due to intolerance and discrimination against others’ beliefs. In the present world, violence and discrimination have reached new heights in almost all regions of the world. Religious conflicts are seen to be strongly prevalent in one-third of the world’s 198 countries and territories. The countries ranking high for such conflicts are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Israel.
  4. Destruction of Nature: Humans’ destruction of nature is taking a major toll on the world. Deforestation, done for various reasons like farming, cattle grazing, expanding cities and building dams, has caused environmental degradation and climate change. Deforestation has also led to losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, which equals to 27 soccer fields a minute.Trees help absorb carbon dioxide which helps to cool the planet’s temperature down but the loss of trees from deforestation reverses this process. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. Thus, destruction of nature is another critical global issue that requires immediate preventive measures.
  5. Children’s Lives: In a report from 2017, UNICEF claims that child mortality has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.6 million in 2016. This is a positive change but the number of deaths is still extremely significant; 15,000 children die every day. One of the significant causes of child mortality is malnutrition, while pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are also significant factors.According to a report published from Save the Children on May 31, 2018, it is estimated that around 1.2 billion children are exposed to at least one of three threats: poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. 153 million people are at a risk of suffering from all three. For the overall progress toward healthy living and well-being to continue, there is an urgent need to address and assist these vulnerable children.

These are only a few of the world’s most critical global issues. If society is to one day come together and attain total peace and security, these problems must be attended to as soon as possible. The safety of future generations depends on the actions taken now.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

Effective Charity
Giving What We Can (GWWC) is an international society that works to eliminate extreme poverty. It recommends effective charity organizations and its members pledge to give at least 10 percent of their income to such charities.

Dr. Toby Ord, an Oxford ethics researcher, established Giving What We Can in 2009.

Ord claims the inspiration for the organization came from Peter Singer’s essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” which argues that the affluent have a moral obligation to donate to the people less well-off.

The organization draws heavily on modern ethical philosophy, especially the effective altruism movement. This philosophical movement attempts to use evidence and analysis to determine the most effective humanitarian causes and charities to donate to.

Giving What We Can takes a top-down approach to evaluating charities.

The organization begins with the big-picture, evaluating which areas — health, education, emergency aid, etc.— require the most attention. The, the group compares sub-areas within those categories, such as specific diseases. Finally, it analyzes the particular charities that work in this sub-area, such as the Against Malaria Foundation.

In this evaluation process, the organization focuses on three main criteria: neglect, tractability and impact. A neglected cause means the issue is not receiving proper attention from humanitarian efforts. Tractability defines a cause that has a workable solution that the sponsor can effectively implement. Impact focuses on the number of lives that can be improved by investing in a given cause.

GWWC’s website uses schistosomiasis, a disease involving parasitic flatworms, as an example of a cause that clearly meets all three criteria: “[Schistosomiasis] affects millions of people (impact) but it’s cheap and easy to treat (tractability) […] However, it is relatively underfunded (it is part of the so-called ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases’).”

For this reason, GWWC lists the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative as one of its top charities. Its other established, most effective charity is the Against Malaria Foundation. They list Deworming the World Initiative and Project Healthy Children as promising top charities.

Though it accepts donations, Giving What We Can does not ask for them.

Instead, the humanitarian organization prefers to play “a complementary role,” asking members to commit to giving to effective charities instead.

So far, GWWC’s 1,696 members have donated more than $36.3 million to effective charities and pledged to donate a further $649 million over their lifetimes.

Steffen Seitz

Photo: Flickr

z1 Borgen Project
A young man decided to devote his life to saving the lives of people in poverty-stricken countries. Thus, he completed his doctorate of philosophy at University of Oxford and became a trader at a Wall Street firm. Although the logic in this plan is not immediately clear, in the scheme of effective altruism, it makes perfect sense.

Effective altruism is “a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to determining the most effective ways to improve the world”. It is a trend, primarily among young people, to live their best life while also giving the most they can to help other people. It is not sacrificing, but flourishing.

The Oxford grad and trader, Matt Wage, made it his goal to give a sufficient amount of his annual salary to save the lives of the millions of children around the world who die annually from preventable diseases. He realized that, as a trader, he would be able to give a larger amount of money away, and within a year of work, he was donating a six-figure sum to highly effective charities. He is able to lead a stable, comfortable life in a promising career while helping hundreds of people across the globe.

Philosophy plays a major role in the workings of effective altruism because it challenges the relationship between impulse and reason: are we guided entirely by impulse and only later apply reason as a hollow justification, or do we decipher our reasoning before even considering out actions? How does logic play into charitable acts? Is it a guiding principle some possess and other do not, or do generous people simply give as a matter of impulse? Like many things in philosophy, there are no simple answers, but it is enough to challenge popular notions of behavior through benefiting oneself while also helping others.

Effective altruists also challenge conventions in that they are highly selective in where they let their money go. Rather than spreading funds across many different charities, they donate to just one or two organizations they know are highly effective and make the most of their funds. This requires thorough research into the progress and activity of different organizations and a strong passion for one or two causes.

Effective altruists also employ logic in funneling their donations. They believe that rather than donating to causes that attract people through emotional sway, people should donate funds to causes that most need them and will most effectively use them. This promotes charitable organizations to attract donors through demonstrated transparency and efficiency rather than eliciting emotional responses.

As Millenials enter the workforce, many are considering careers that allow them to give back while living modest lives. They are directing the course of their lives in the interest of others, while giving back to their own communities through hard work and human capital. In this way, they are leading industrious lives and helping others do the same. They employ both logic and emotion and shed optimistic light on the future of charity and goodwill.

Jenny Wheeler

Sources: TED, Boston Review
Photo: 101 Fundraising