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.
The death of a loved one, or having serious health problems oneself, has a way of highlighting the pettiness and pointlessness of much of daily life. What things might survive death? Personal afterlife (liberation, redemption, salvation, etc., depending on your views) and personal legacy (e.g., children and their inheritence, one’s own tangible and intangible contributions to the world, maybe choosing to live/die in a location where one would like to be reborn, etc.) are the main things I can think of. Except as things pertain to either afterlife or legacy, most everything else seems like short-term issues about which one shouldn’t get too stressed or invested.
Possessions are often most beneficial in the short-term. In the long-term, they are often a burden; become out-dated; require time and/or money for storage, security, transportation, maintenance, sales, donation, safe/responsible disposal, etc.
Buddhist bhikkhu(ni)s sometimes make the point that suffering, which is an imprecise/incomplete translation of dukkha, is more subtle than just obvious things like sickness, a broken heart, and so forth. The word dukkha’s etymology comes from having a poorly fitting axle on a cart, resulting in a bumpy ride. Dukkha is the nuisance, irritation, struggle, wasted effort/energy/heat, friction, inefficiency, or broken-ness in everyday life, and everything in life involves at least some small amount of dukkha. Here are a few everyday things that people often take for granted as being easy or pleasurable, and how they involve at least some amount of dukkha.
- Breathing or beating one’s heart requires work by the unconscious aspects of the brain and nervous system, as well as the work of the heart and lungs.
- Maintaining consciousness requires absorbing and burning energy from food, absorbing and transporting oxygen and blood sugars, getting enough rest, etc. Brains burn a large amount of calories.
- Sitting or standing upright places a strain on the heart, and causes people’s bones to compress/shrink a little everyday from the force exerted on them by gravity. Healthy bones repair themselves during the night, when the force of gravity is perpendicular to the body. When unhealthy or elderly people’s bones can’t repair themselves enough, such people gradually shrink.
- Sex requires physical exertion comparable to climbing a flight of stairs, work by the various reproductive organs in the body, and immune and tissue-repair responses by the body.
- Even very delicate desserts or drugs require bodily swallowing or inhaling, digesting, absorbing, reacting, filtering by the liver and/or kidneys, expulsion of the waste, etc.
It is protein and B-complex vitamins that vegetarians might need for their health and might be willing to eat, that is going to exist whether or not it is eaten and that otherwise would be wasted by humans, from species most people have never tasted before and might find interesting: deer, squirrels, possoms, raccoons, birds, etc. Eating roadkill is not a new idea, but creating a government-compliant supply chain for it, high-quality sterilization and cooking procedures, and selling it in supermarkets might be.
From PETA: “If people must eat animal carcasses, roadkill is a superior option to the neatly shrink-wrapped plastic packages of meat in the supermarket.\ Eating roadkill is healthier for the consumer than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants, as most meat is today. It is also more humane in that animals killed on the road were not castrated, dehorned, or debeaked without anesthesia, did not suffer the trauma and misery of transportation in a crowded truck in all weather extremes, and did not hear the screams and smell the fear of the animals ahead of them on the slaughter line. Perhaps the animals never knew what hit them….”
A few challenges: finding people who know how to properly butcher a variety of wild animal species, the meat still would need to be packaged, some Tibetan Buddhists think that there are physical signs that consciousness has left a body for which one should look, people who collect the meat might encounter animals that are only injured or not quite dead and may need to call a veterinarian or sit with/near the animal until it dies, finding a network of spotters (perhaps commercial/personal drivers could be paid a small amount for reporting roadkill, though not so much that the payment might incentivize people to kill animals intentionally), and transporting meat from possibly rural areas to processing facilities quickly enough.
(This idea is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. It may be used commercially.)
I see many trends in societies around the world towards greater indulgence, lasciviousness, crassness, and violence. Everyday clothing is slowly tending towards nudity (e.g., women’s leggings being worn as pants), even for people in monogamous relationships/marriages. Mass media is slowly including more cursing, sex, violence, lavish materialism, and dysfunctional families — do you remember when Bart Simpson’s saying “I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?” was considered edgy? Cable TV channels and blockbuster films often insert f-bombs, nudity, and gore into shows for no reason that serves the story. Hardcore porn sites are among the most popular on the Web, and are running softer things like Playboy out of the porn business. Governments are slowly legalizing stronger intoxicants (e.g., pot). Beautiful natural places are turning into high-traffic theme parks to such an extent that some countries are having to shut down tropical islands to let them recover. Child-sex tourism and human trafficking, along with indentured servitude and slavery, are becoming more common. Religions are having to relax their rules or practices, or risk losing membership. People increasingly waste food or over-eat to the point of obesity and diabetes, quickly buy and throw away non-biodegradable plastics, drive giant cars, live in giant houses, use inorganic pesticides and rearrange genetics for higher crop yields without regard for the long-term consequences… and on and on.
Before the industrialization of the 1800s, this planet was able to sustain up to a few hundred million humans for many thousands of years. Now, it has over 7.4 billion, and is rising with no end/control in sight.