There's no shortage of everyday problems to fix out there
The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it
1879 - 1955
TIME TO START PAYING ATTENTION?
You shouldn't need anyone to tell you that there were refugees long before the Syrian crisis brought their horror further into the public consciousness.
There was famine before recent announcements of severe food shortages in Yemen, Malawi and Nigeria, too. And, today, with over fifty countries run by dictatorships, oppression isn’t in short supply, either.
As heartening as it is to see the public response to the latest humanitarian crisis or injustice, it’s a shame that in so many cases it takes a major news event to bring a particular concept of suffering to people’s attention. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were always paying attention, always aware of the inequalities in the world, and always willing to help chip away at it, wherever it may be? How many of these events might never have happened if we all paid more attention and supported those working to fix their root causes? In today’s always on, always connected, 24/7 news world, there’s no excuse to not know what’s going on in the lives of people less fortunate.
Here’s your chance to do something about it. And you can start by asking: What kind of person do you want to be?
LETS GET STARTED
You might not change the world, but you can help make it a better place.
First and foremost, you don't have to wait for disaster to strike. There are plenty of problems that vast numbers of people in the world face on a daily basis. You might want to start by learning more about them, and maybe start supporting others trying to put things right. Whether you’re interested in a problem in your own neighbourhood, or a neighbourhood on another continent, there’s an everyday problem out there for everyone.
It's time to start paying attention.
Read widely. Watch documentaries. Make an effort to meet like-minded people. Take time to understand the world, to understand the context of the problems we face as a people and a planet.
Take time to understand what life is like for those less fortunate than yourself. Try to spend time with them. Travel to the places they live if possible. Be open to learning. Climb into their shoes. Empathise with them.
Get behind a major global campaign that addresses a major global challenge. Don't let the enormity of the task put you off, or the fact that you may never know the impact you, individually, may have.
Get behind a local organisation or group addressing a local problem you're passionate about. Dive in. Get involved. Experience the impact you're having. Draw comfort that you're making a difference.
What is the most important thing you could be working on in the world right now? And if you're not working on it, why not?
Aaron Swartz 1986 - 2013
HERE'S A FEW EVERYDAY PROBLEMS. HAPPENING SOMEWHERE. RIGHT NOW.
"Problems are meant to be solved. But unfortunately, a lot of people choose to complain, worry, and cry about them"
The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing (Habitat, 2015).
20% of Americans, about 60 million people, suffer from loneliness that is chronic and severe enough to be a major source of unhappiness. In the UK over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone. Lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
More than 200 million children today are child labourers. An estimated 120 million are engaged in hazardous work. 73 million of these children are below 10 years old. Most children work on farms that produce consumer products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber and other crops. The highest number of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa.
1.72 billion people are affected by internet censorship on any given day. 80% of the world doesn’t have access to an internet that is 100% uncensored. In China, more than 1 in 4 websites that are normally accessible through Google or other search engines are blocked. In China the Internet Police employ 30,000 agents who investigate individuals who post information online that may be offensive to Chinese government and officials.
Around the world 836 million people still live in extreme poverty. One in four children under the age of five has inadequate height for his or her age. About one in five people in developing regions lives on less than $1.25 per day.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school. Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector.
Basic infrastructure like roads, information and communication technologies, sanitation, electrical power and water remains scarce in many developing countries. Quality infrastructure is positively related to the achievement of social, economic and political goals.
From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. For each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5%. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions per year between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.
An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution.
In California, 40% of African American men between 18-25 are either in jail, on parole, or on probation. Nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain's schools between 2007 and 2011. 97% of Aboriginal people in Australia reported experiencing racism 'often'.
Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. That’s comparable to global diseases like malaria and HIV. Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year. Nearly 700 million Chinese people drink contaminated water. One in every eight deaths on the planet can be linked to air pollution.
Today almost 1 in 10 people are over 60 years old. By 2050 1 in 5 people will be over 60. People aged over 60 will outnumber children aged 0-14 by 2050. In the US, UK and most of Europe, in every decade since 1930 life expectancy has increased by around 2.5 years. In the UK, over-85s cost around three times more in terms of the provision of both hospital and community health services than those aged 65 to 74.
Globally, one in nine people in the world - 795 million people - are undernourished. Poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths in children under five – that's 3.1 million children each year.
Around the world, 663 million people are still without access to safe drinking water. 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. Each day nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoea diseases.
A significant majority of households in developing countries - more than 75% of the population - are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s.
Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people. As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats. Oceans provide 97% of the Earth’s liveable habitat and a home to more than 700,000 species. Only 4% of the world's oceans are protected.
Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. More than 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, are overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.
In the UK the retail value of what bees pollinate is valued at in excess of £1bn per year. Between 1947 and 2005, US bee colony numbers declined by over 40%. Disruption of the honey bee supply would reverberate across the world and is creating genuine concern.
For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s people live in cities. Nearly two billion new urban residents are expected in the next twenty years. More than 70 per cent of Africa’s urban population lives in slums, with the majority of slum dwellers in African cities are between the ages of 15 and 24. The number of slum dwellers is estimated to grow by nearly 500 million between now and 2020.
Around the world the percentage of people without access to decent, stable housing is rising. Adequate housing is vitally important to the health of the world’s economies, communities and populations. In the UK, 59% of people under 45 had put off major life decisions like marriage, starting a family, or moving into a job because of housing worries. Britain’s housing shortage is so acute that first time house buyers are now 38-years-old, on average.
Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families. Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need.
One in five people still lack access to modern electricity. Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – live in cities. 828 of them live in slums and the number keeps rising. Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health. 95 per cent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in developing world.
Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. This includes some 70 million indigenous people. Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown.
Global suicide rates have increased 60% in the past 45 years. 1.8% of worldwide deaths are suicides. On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. South Africa has the second highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world at 9.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Worldwide, there are an estimated 875 million firearms in circulation. 74% of those are in civilian hands.
A total of 290 children under the age of 18 were referred to the UK's counter-radicalisation scheme in 2012/13. This number increased by more than half to 423 the following year. Among those referred were 84 children aged under 12. In one case a child as young as three was referred to the scheme while others have included schoolchildren who have drawn pictures of bombs or made terror threats.
Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing global crime. 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. Human trafficking is the second largest source of illegal income worldwide exceeded only by drugs trafficking. The majority of trafficked victims come from the poorest countries and poorest segments of the national population. Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
57 million children remain out of primary school across the developing world. 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60% of them are women.
Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the US$2 poverty line and poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs. 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030 alone.
Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes. Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles. 2 billion people globally are overweight or obese.
Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years. Among the institutions most affected by corruption are the judiciary and police.
Check out these inspiring stories of social innovation from the innovators themselves. Let them share with you, in their own words, the inside story of their background, ambitions, failures, motivations and successes - despite having little money or resources. Edited by Ken Banks, forewords come from Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner), Bill Drayton (Founder of Ashoka) and Peter Gabriel (musician and humanitarian)
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