Poor countries often have poor waste management, water and air treatment, and power generation facilities. Even in large cities, people in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, etc. often burn their trash right beside their homes, bury toilet waste in pits beside their homes that may rarely or never get cleaned, don’t have very clean drinking water, and go without electricity every few days or weeks. A really good, humanitarian, and probably profitable idea for a large corporation, wealthy person, or the UN might be to build municipal utility facilities (water treatment; recycling; industrial quality incineration; urban air filtration; and solar, wind, or hydro power generation) into a fleet of ships that get deployed to the ocean and river shores of these countries — providing good quality utility services to a large portion of the planet at a cheap bulk rate.
It seems to me that many of the problems facing the world today are very technically easy to solve but very socially difficult to solve. I believe that humanity can solve these kinds of problems, if only enough people mobilize themselves. For example:
- Ethnic, gender, religious, national, wealth, etc. equality. Treat everyone with fairness and respect (in every way), heavily tax or outlaw wealth greater than a certain amount (I suggest $1 million for individuals and $100 million for companies), collaboratively create a global government (i.e., the UN with more power), use the Internet to let everyone collaboratively construct a common human language (which everyone must learn in school, but which is optional to use in daily life), and so on.
- Global warming. We have many ways of generating clean energy: solar, wind, hydroelectric, hydrogen, nuclear fusion (coming soon), etc. — we just need to use them on a larger scale.
- Over-population. People around the world need to either control themselves or use modern birth control or sterilization methods.
- War. “Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war” (Albert Einstein).
- Direct democracy. Many critical government and corporate services are already available on the Internet: healthcare, banking, etc. Why not voting? Using the Internet, every citizen who wants to could easily vote on the issues of the day and votes could be counted instantly, replacing most politicians and letting the people represent themselves.
- Pollution and destruction of nature. Stop using plastic or require everyone to recycle it, stop using synthetic chemicals as much as possible, use electric or other clean-energy vehicles (hydrogen, bicycles, etc), and so on. Stop large companies from using so many pesticides and large harvesting machines, fracking, oil drilling, replacing humans with machines, emitting toxic chemicals from factories, etc.
If you can find ways of spending less, you don’t need to earn/work as much (but it’s still a good idea to have plenty of savings for old age or a rainy day). For example:
- Live in a poor area/country and work in/for a wealthy area/country. Rent or buy outright a tiny place, to minimize mortgage interest, utility, and maintenance fees.
- Own only 1-2 of the things you need (i.e., one primary and one backup).
- Keep pictures of things you’ve had/enjoyed in the past, instead of storing and moving things forever. Sell or donate more.
- Shop at thrift stores.
- Use prepaid cellphones, avoid long phone conversations, and find the free public wifi hotspots near you (and use HTTPS, Tor, and/or a VPN for protection).
- Replace large things that use a lot of electricity with smaller, more pinpointed things or well-designed locations (e.g., 1-watt USB fans and LED task/reading lights; phones, tablets, and laptops instead of desktops; put your computer to sleep when not in use; choose a house or apartment that gets good cross-breezes between the windows; etc.).
- Recharge small electronics from public places (malls, airports, etc.) or buy a small solar panel, if possible.
- Use free/open-source software instead of expensive proprietary software.
- Natural gas cooking and heating is usually cheaper than electric.
- Get in the habit of picking up a few groceries on your way home from work, so you don’t have to use a refrigerator as much or at all, and so that you eat fresher food.
- The body can adjust quite a bit to summer heat and winter cold, if you limit your exposure to heating and air conditioning systems. Also, fans, sweaters, blankets, and the like can go a long way before air conditioners and heaters really become necessary.
- Bathe in cool or lukewarm water.
- Handwash your clothes. Use clotheslines instead of clothes dryer machines.
- Bicycle or walk if you can. Use buses instead of subways, unless they are the same price (as in NYC). Use taxis and rental cars, instead of owning a car, unless owning a car is cheaper for your profession. If you must own a vehicle, consider a scooter/moped or motorized bicycle. I prefer motorized bikes, because if a scooter or motorcycle breaks down, you can’t pedal it home.
- Fill the empty spaces in your freezer with ice and fridge with cold water, so it doesn’t use as much energy to stay cool.
- A dark, thick, or reflective umbrella can protect against both rain and sun, and will probably last much longer than a tube of sunscreen.
- Watch and take care of wild animals (birds, trees, etc.), which live free and natural lives, instead of keeping pets, which often have genetic/breeding problems that can cause them pain and you high vet bills.
- Watch videos and listen to music from the public library or FM radio stations, instead of paying for streaming video and audio.
- Boil and maybe filter tap water, instead of buying bottled water.
- Live a healthy lifestyle, so your healthcare expenses are likely to be less.
As a social scientist, here are 10 things that I think should be basic tenets of global citizenship:
- Physical requisites: either a universal income stipend or a safe-enough job, on which one is periodically tested and found to be capable of performing, which provides enough income for access to the following: clean air and water, adequate and medically appropriate food, adequate shelter for one’s geographical location, basic privacy and security in one’s home, basic hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, etc.), basic healthcare services, and a basic portable computer or smartphone with unlimited (but possibly slow) Internet service
- Mental requisites: universal access to the following basic mental requisites: a high school-level education, free online higher education courses, and merit-based scholarships for in-person higher education
- Freedom of identity, with respect: the freedom of all people to affiliate themselves with and/or to practice any identity (cultural, ethnic, gender, religious, etc.) and/or language, as long as their behaviors are respectful of others, including of the majority culture in a given region
- Preservation and sustainability: preserving and protecting adequate natural habitats for the world’s non-human species, and seeking to counteract every environmentally destructive thing that one does, in order to live with no overall environmental footprint
- Affordable global transit: the ability to travel between any major city on Earth using only low-cost (possibly slow) public transit systems
- Sex and/or marriage by consent: that sex and/or marriage should involve mutual, written consent; that any two people over 18 years old can legally have sex or marry; and that any person who is in a sexual or marriage relationship can end their participation in the relationship for any reason
- One lingua franca: online collaboration in producing a single, international auxiliary language by and for all of humanity, and a working knowledge of its use
- Generosity: individuals with assets or savings worth more than USD $1 million, or corporations with assets or savings worth more than USD $1 billion, should donate the excess to underfunded social or environmental causes of their choosing.
- Universal arbitration: any dispute between people in any nation may be settled through low-cost, legally binding arbitration by an international consortium of arbitrators who follow common guidelines.
- Standards based on international consensus, in order to foster communication and ease travel: measurements, date and time formats, telephone number formats, electricity plugs and voltages, driving conventions and rules, college entrance exams, what to include (and how things are presented) in high school textbooks, business and financial conventions, etc. should be determined through national participation in international consensus organizations, like the ISO.