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Reflections: Top Ten Challenges Facing Humanity…

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“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” Joseph Campbell

Reflections: Top Ten Challenges Facing Humanity… Energy and its conservation is #1

Yesterday, as I was gathering information for my post on the Nigeria-Biafra Civil war, I came across a 2003 lecture by Nobel Laureate, Richard E. Smalley, in which he identified war as the sixth biggest problem facing mankind for the next fifty years. In the same lecture, he identified ten problems that will face humanity over the next 50 years and the list gave me pause. As I contemplated the impact of the list from a global perspective, it made me wonder where we are headed and what this would mean for the next generation. Below are the ten problems or challenges Richard Smalley outlined. Which of these affect you directly? Which concern you most?

“The fact is that people are good, if only their fundamental wishes are satisfied, their wish for affection and security. Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behavior.” Abraham Maslow

Reflections: Top Ten Challenges Facing Humanity… Water is a crucial resource …

Top Ten Problems Facing Humanity Over the Next 50 Years

Everything we do requires some form of energy, and the consumption of energy has quadrupled over the years. We use gas, electricity, solar, water and other forms of energy to keep it all churning, and there is a greater need for energy conservation. Water is a crucial resource that ties in with energy and food and we need it for our survival. Water covers 70.9% of our Earth‘s surface, is vital for all known forms of life and yet 1 billion people lack access to clean and safe water. This invaluable resource would lead to disease and more if the global supply of clean water  is depleted. The same goes for food which is a major issue in areas of great drought. Without adequate food, our bodies and minds suffer, human manpower is wasted, and people, especially children, suffer from the side effects; disease, malaise and mental inactivity.  How do we mitigate the impact on our communities? What can we do individually?

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Reflections: Top Ten Challenges Facing Humanity… 1.7 Billion live in absolute poverty worldwide

Terrorism & War

Even as we talk about the need to protect and sustain our environment,  see the growing movement to go green, manage our carbon footprint, and act consciously by not misusing our natural resources,  we are deeply concerned about growing poverty  levels worldwide. There are 1.7 billion people living in absolute, abject poverty globally and, as the economic downturn here in the USA and in other parts of the world continue to affect communities and destroy them, the poverty levels will continue to grow.  Also, strife, war, and acts of terrorism impact us all.  Perhaps, if we look around at global events, at the general dissatisfaction, the protests and demonstrations, and  the  acts of violence directed at civilians,  we might begin to understand that we are all affected by these myriad problems; directly or indirectly. Do you think  these problems have any impact on your life? What is your perspective on the Go Green, Global sustainability movement? More below. 😉

“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution” Bertrand Russell

Reflections: Top Ten Challenges Facing Humanity… World population explosion continues with over 7 billion of us here


If the United Nations statistics are accurate, we have exceeded 7 billion people on our planet earth and our world population continues to explode. With the explosion comes concerns about how to manage our resources to ensure all get some basic needs; food, shelter, education, good health options. The World Health Organization (WHO) fights outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as SARS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS, and monitors the spread of diseases worldwide. But with growing populations, there is concern that diseases will continue to spread – with the possibility that fewer resources will be available to handle them.  This year, we all witnessed  the protests, demonstrations and  increased demands for a democratic process in countries worldwide. Some believe the trend will continue…

With the changing winds come a greater need and demand for  equitable educational opportunities in countries around the world.  An educated populace is one that can contribute to the growth and success of a nation. Only time will tell what will become of the emerging democracies (a result of new governments/leadership in some MidEast nations), and how that will impact the rest of us. For now, we face these ten problems/challenges and others, and my wish is that we remember that we are in this together. Lets help one another, share our goodwill, end our petty hatreds and be part of the solution not the problem. What are your thoughts? Are you concerned about the ten global challenges? What views do you have on the selections and which concerns you the most? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: While we face problems/challenges in the world, we can make a difference by becoming part of the solution; every act of peace and conscientious living helps.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Energy & Lightening, Water Iceberg, World population, Poverty, via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

15 Comments leave one →
  1. 28/11/2011 12:06 am

    Abraham Maslow is spot on. It’s selfishness, I suppose.

  2. 28/11/2011 2:18 am

    I think you are spot on with the list of the 10 top challenges taken from Richard Smalley, that faces us as human beings. It’s hard to say what is most challenging, though, but I think globally maybe water and poverty – which also connects to the other challenges in many ways. I have to admit that the one challenge that hits me directly is environment – as of now or the near future. Just shows how fortunate I am to be born and live where I do.

  3. 28/11/2011 2:44 am

    Overpopulation and destroying the environment really cover all the rest – they are subsets of those two primary problems in my view.

    Was this small planet ever designed to tolerate what we do to it or the numbers we expect it to support? I think not.

    Great article, Elizabeth.

  4. 28/11/2011 2:46 am

    yet 1 billion people lack access to clean and safe water. ..
    there will be wars for water … already sublime beginnings in India and Africa …

  5. 28/11/2011 5:16 am

    What a serious problem. We need to think about it together.
    In our country aged society is one of the serious problem.

  6. 28/11/2011 5:41 am

    Elizabeth, I don’t even know where to begin. I read your post (and this isn’t the first time I’m hearing this) but it hit me really hard today. Here, we’re gearing up for elections but so far, neither of the two political parties have addressed the issue of food security, access to water — yes, we’re known as the land of wood and water but too many of us don’t have access (see a post I did recently, and the environment.
    One of the big things here is bottled water! Yes. I shudder to thing where the empty bottles are going.
    We have enough land space to grow our own food but most of us are so averse (my word) to getting our hands dirty, we don’t. When I was growing up, we always had fruit trees, we bought things like rice, flour, sugar, meat but we could feed ourself from our backyard.
    As for education? Our system is beyond broken. The one we inherited from the British, which seemed to serve most of us, my generation included, so well is being/has been replaced by one that’s geared to sending our children into US schools. Because we have more children that facilities to house them, we went to a shift system maybe 10-15+ years ago. As far as I’m concerned, that is a colossal failure.
    I could go on, but it’s depressing to me to write about it. Our major problem is our debt and the fact that we beyond tourism, we have no other major resource to fuel our economy. In the US and other developing countries, these issues are discussed routinely and often. Not so much here. There’s so much ‘work’ to be done!
    Great post.

  7. 28/11/2011 6:04 am

    Poverty….In the USA the many, aging out of the foster system teens who find themselves without a permanent family to call their own.
    Education…illiteracy worldwide especially with adults unable to read.

  8. Savira permalink
    28/11/2011 6:52 am

    Great article and very informative.. Selfishness and greed destroys anything and anyone!

  9. 28/11/2011 8:55 am

    I think the single biggest problem facing humanity is that we don’t realise we are one. We think that things that happen to others don’t have consequences for us – and that’s not true. Even in a non-altruistic but enlightened self-interest way, when I disregard a problem in some part of the world and tell myself it’s safe to do so, it’s as foolish as disregarding let’s say – a growth on my back – because I can’t see it.

    If we saw everyone on the planet as connected to us – like family – we’d easily solve all the very real problems of hunger and poverty and lack of education etc etc – we know the answers to all of these problems. What would any of us do if one of our family was starving or raped or enslaved or hurt or in danger? We’d even be able to solve war and criminal activity because the vulnerable would have a big gang of cousins to defend them.

    We need to see that even if we don’t have a responsibility ‘for’ creating the dysfunction, we still have a responsibility ‘to’ help those who need our help.

    The oneness of humanity is a scientific fact but we continue to act as if we are separate. In spite of our oneness, though, we are not united. We are like a very dysfunctional family packed into a tiny house – we’re related whether we like it or not so we may as well learn to help each other out and get on!

  10. Rose Casanova permalink
    28/11/2011 11:19 am

    Interesting post Elizabeth. I’ve read two posts today on the same subject. I don’t know what to do about the shortage of resources. I think that most of us in the Western World are concerned with our personal shortages, do I have enough for groceries this month? college tuition for my kids? do we have enough to retire? How am I going to pay off these credit card bills? We are stuck in our own lives. Thanks for pointing out the big picture.

  11. 28/11/2011 12:13 pm

    The Better World Handbook identifies small changes that will make a big difference in creating the 7 foundations for a Better World:

  12. 28/11/2011 5:16 pm

    While I was in Florida this past week, I learned that that state has the highest percentage of homeless children/families. Where is the help for these brave families? Where are the open purses and wallets? Creatingreciprocity hit the nail on the head–there is no longer a sense of community, no longer “it takes a village” mentality. It makes me sad.

  13. Goz permalink
    29/11/2011 12:26 am

    Great post..really sobering too. I like what Creatingreciprocity wrote.. I think that is the core, the foundation of our problems.

  14. Cecilia Antony permalink
    17/06/2013 12:55 am

    I would say that another great challenge before the humanity is the nuclear family and its related problems like alienation, depression, insufficient emotional quotient, suicide.In fact recently I read somewhere that in coming years suicide will kill more people than cancer. we all have to work together with the philosophy in mind vasudev Kutumbhave(the world is one family) and help out the needy.

    • 17/06/2013 11:25 am

      Interesting perspective Cecilia!
      There are many folk struggling and suffering in our world and, for some, it might be an option in times of deepest sadness and struggle. My prayer is that we are all lifted by God’s love and that we develop a spirit of hope; where there is hope, there is a willingness to move forward even in our darkest hour. We are all inherently one universal family, and if more of us remember this and remove the stigma attached to how we perceive those with mental health struggles, suicidal thoughts, and other health matters, it would be a great blessing. More communication and compassion is needed for sure. TY for your feedback.

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