(Featured Photo provided by futuristspeaker.com)
Over the past three years, one of the most pressing issues we’ve had to deal with was the pandemic. Because of it, many of us had to stay holed up inside our homes, not being able to see family and friends, not being able to work, and not being able to do many of the small activities we take for granted. It dominated our lives during all that time.
However, because we, as one big human society, worked together, we were able to slowly chip away at COVID-19. Doctors and scientists from around the world all collaborated to develop the vaccine as fast as possible. Meanwhile, local and federal officials passed laws to reduce the spread of the disease and make sure everyone stayed safe. Due to these efforts, we have moved on from those turbulent times, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has no longer declared COVID-19 as a world health emergency.
Although that may be one global issue in the bag, we should still be aware of the several others that have plagued us for much longer and start diverting our attention towards coming up with solutions.
Back in 1950, there was only an estimated world population of around 2.6 billion people, but just recently in November 2022, we crossed the 8 billion mark. So in just a period of only 72 years, the population more than tripled in number. Before, it took 150 years from 1800 to 1950 for the world population to increase even by just 1 billion people. It’s taking shorter and shorter time for the population to increase, due to factors like increased longevity, higher fertility rates, better healthcare, and internal migration. It’s expected that by 2100, we’ll have about 10 billion people living on this earth. However, while our numbers may continue to rise, there simply isn’t enough room on this planet for that many people. If this continues, soon we might have wars over food and water, not territories or political control. It’s also led to our rainforests being cut down to accommodate new people, which is harming our environment significantly and contributing to other global problems.
4. Gender Inequality
Women represent approximately half of the world’s population, so it should be a given that they also are given the same rights as men since they make up such a significant percentage. While this may be true in many developed, Western countries, the same can’t be said for other countries around the world like Afghanistan, where women are banned from running for office and are expected to adhere to a strict dress code and stay home. Moreover, the pandemic also reversed trends of women gaining more political power, as more emphasis was put on the pandemic during that time than gender equality. Women were also hit harder by the pandemic, with about 5% of all women losing jobs while only 3.9% of men lost their jobs. Also on the topic of economics, women still on average earn 20% less than men globally, and many products marketed toward women are more expensive than those toward men, a phenomenon called the “pink tax.”
3. Food Insecurity
Despite some progress being made toward ending world hunger, as shown in the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, the crisis has been at its highest during the last six years than it has ever been since the report was created. Moreover, the world is not on target for Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to achieve zero hunger by 2030. In 2021, it was reported that close to 193 million people weren’t sure if they could put food on the table, which is an 80% increase from 2016. The reasons for this sudden increase include rising global food prices, like grain and meat, often due to inflation in low-income countries. Another big factor is weather-related disasters, which can make entire fields of crops unusable, reducing the amount of food available globally. It’s ironic that in some third-world countries, food is a very scarce thing, yet here in America, around 40% of all food is wasted and never eaten. And if people aren’t able to get the nutrients they need, they aren’t able to focus as much in school/work and are more susceptible to some diseases.
Food insecurity also goes hand in hand with poverty, as those who can’t afford food are also most likely in poverty. Back in fall 2022, the World Bank updated the Poverty Line from $1.90 to $2.15, meaning that anyone who lives on $2.15 is now considered to be in “extreme poverty.” It’s estimated that around 60% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day, while 10% are considered to be in extreme poverty. Oftentimes, especially in third-world countries, people live in poverty due to global price increases on all basic necessities, poor government aid, and conflicts in the area. And it is because of poverty, that many aren’t able to afford food, pay utility bills, receive education, or be able to afford healthcare. While there have been some efforts by both governments and individuals to ease poverty, it is still a long way away from being over.
1. Climate Change
The number one most pressing global issue is global warming, which has the potential to affect all of us regardless of where we live or how our lives are going right now. The world is on track to reach a temperature of around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 20 years, causing “multiple risks to ecosystems and humans.”Probably what makes it the scariest is that it’s almost impossible to for sure determine the scope and scale climate change could have on us if it goes on undeterred. It can result in anything from rising sea levels increasing the risk of flooding, to other climate disasters crippling our food output, adding to already pressing matters like poverty and food insecurity which was mentioned earlier in this article. It can also lead to the destruction of our environment, which acts as a buffer to some of the effects of climate change. So without the environment, the effects may only get worse and worse. No matter how you slice it, climate change can inadvertently affect all of us, and if drastic measures aren’t taken to prevent these catastrophes, 50 years from now, some of our coastal towns and cities might not even be here anymore, instead flooded under the water.
However, while these issues may seem almost impossible to fix, know that it is not too late. Together as a global community, we were able to for the most part eradicate COVID-19 as a major health issue. And together, we can still do that again for anything that may threaten us in the future.