Let’s Talk About What’s Really Important

Here in the U.S., we seem to have lost sight of our priorities, of the most important issues we should be dealing with, and instead we have become mesmerized by the social and political divide.  I sometimes wonder if it isn’t a game played within the upper echelons to distract our attention from things that really matter in the long-term view.  I am as guilty as any of letting the political circus of these past few years occupy a large portion of my mind, my writing.  And make no mistake … the issues facing our social and political culture are important … very much so.  But other issues are more important and on a much larger scale.  So today, I’m not going to discuss Republicans vs Democrats, but I’m going to focus on the things that will someday in the near future make both parties either work together or become extinct.

There are disagreements, even among experts, as to what the most critical, most relevant issues facing the world today are, but they all agree on at least the top one:

Climate change and the environment

This is the big one. A toxic combination of dependence on fossil fuels and unsustainable industrial practices has created extremely dangerous weather events that threaten to destroy terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as our access to basic resources like food and water.

Most of the world’s recent natural disasters – including superstorms, freak floods and out of control fires, as well as some of hottest and coldest seasons on record – are the direct result of man-made, fossil-fuel induced global warming.

Across land and sea, natural habitats are deteriorating. We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate and destabilizing precious ecosystems. These ecosystems are so complex and interdependent that we cannot predict all the consequences of their loss, but here is what we do know:

  • Species extinctions are happening more frequently than at any time in recorded history. Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was approximately 10 million hectares of forests per year. Healthy forests are essential; they not only regulate the earth’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels as well as seasonal weather patterns but are also depended on by millions of people for food, water and livelihoods.
  • Global warming has caused an increase in coral bleaching, killing ecosystems sustained by the nutrients the coral provide, including fishing grounds on which local communities across the world depend.
  • We are also endangering countless marine species with unsustainable fishing practices like overfishing and bycatch, where dolphins and turtles are caught in commercial fishing nets and later discarded as waste. Meanwhile, pollutants like boat fuel, pesticides, fertilizer, sewage and plastics are causing ocean dead zones – spots where no organism can live.

Next on the list is …

The hunger crisis and water scarcity

One in nine people in the world go hungry each day and suffer from nutritional deficiencies as a result. Current estimates show that 957 million people across 93 countries do not have enough to eat.

The problem isn’t that we aren’t producing enough food; it’s that people lack access to food. Many people don’t have enough money to buy basic foodstuff and cannot grow their own. And the number of displaced persons who suffer from food insecurity is increasing too. According to the World Food Program (WFP), countries with the highest level of food insecurity also have the highest outward migration of refugees.

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine further complicates this problem. Sanctions against Russia, one of the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuels, have further increased energy prices, causing food prices to rise too, ultimately making it much harder on people already struggling to afford food. Ukraine is also one of the world’s largest exporters of grain, which it has had to stop producing due to the war. Most of these exports were due to countries suffering food shortages. Together, Russia and Ukraine are also the world’s largest exporter of fertilizer. The war has caused a lack of supply, creating higher prices for farmers that ultimately translate to higher food prices.

As with food, there is enough fresh water for each person currently living on the planet. But not everyone has equal access to that water. Issues such as poor infrastructure, displacement and conflict mean that many people often have to use unsafe water sources, which is a health and sanitation risk. About two billion people still use a source that is contaminated with human waste, and about the same number don’t have access to adequate toilet facilities.

Major global health issues

The current overwhelming threat to our overall global health and well-being is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though we now have access to effective vaccines and treatment is better understood, more than six million people have died, and the virus continues to threaten vulnerable populations across the world, especially in those areas where access to healthcare is limited. There have also been serious socio-economic side effects that will further contribute to health issues, including mental health issues, for a long time to come.

Other diseases also affect health on a global scale. Fortunately, increased access to clean water and improved education around proper sanitation has resulted in an overall decrease in the prevalence of some communicable diseases like hepatitis, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV. And while the focus of the global healthcare community has now shifted to non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, all of these health problems remain a concern in countries that lack healthcare resources, and even some that have the resources, but at a prohibitive cost.

Many children across the world cannot have their basic human needs met. This includes access to food, education and healthcare.

Child health and education go hand in hand. Malnutrition leads to children who are hungry, cannot concentrate and, thus, cannot learn, and are at risk of developing permanent learning disabilities. Children who go chronically hungry can also develop physiological damage, known as stunting.

Even when children are attending school, the quality of their education might be poor, or educational capacity and resources may be limited. This means that they might leave school without the necessary numeracy or literacy skills required. It’s estimated that approximately 600 million children are not mastering basic mathematics and literacy while at school.

We can cry about the price of fuel, rent, food and other commodities, we can whine and stomp our feet about having to wear a mask in a public venue, but all of that means nothing as compared to the greater problems I’ve only touched on above. And yes, we can rant and rave about political issues, but again … in the grand scope of things, they pale. If we fail to find solutions to climate change … in 50-75 years, humans won’t be worrying about the price of celery or wearing a mask, for they will be too busy trying to find air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat.

My thanks to numerous sources, particularly Global Vision International (GVI)

37 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About What’s Really Important

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    • I agree … as you know by now, guns are one of my pet peeves. Were it in my power, no civilian would own a gun. Period. And yep, it is an exclusively American problem … no other nation on earth has as many guns, gun deaths, or mass shootings per capita as the U.S. We are the laughingstock of the entire world in that area.

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  2. What this world needs is a world government. As separate nations we are accomplishing nothing, and indeed we are making things worse. The United Nations can do a lot of things, but it cannot make individual nations work together to save our planet. Nothing can! Unless we create a governing body representing all the people in the world.
    I am not saying this would be easy, what with all the hatred and racism and religious antipathy and political/economic differences, but WE MUST FIND A WAY TO WORK TOGEGHER FOR THE GOOD OF THE PLANET! And that will take a world government!
    This I believe to be our only hope.

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    • As I just said in my last comment, I agree … fully. BUT … you know and I know that it will never happen. So … what is more realistic that can allow humans to live in relative peace and harmony, put an end to wars that serve no purpose, and help us all work as one to save planet Earth?


      • The ONLY other solution I can see is killing everyone who cannot see beyond their own needs, greed, and desire for power.
        You don’t have to tell me that is crazy talk, because I already know it is. But you asked, so I gave you the only solution I can see that will work. Education will not work as long as we have Populist teachers and schools, nor will leaving government in the hands of people who cannot think like humans. Sorry, Jill, but such a world government has to evolve on its own, or it will not work.

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  3. The operative word in your title is “Really,” because anyone can talk about what’s important to them and what they believe, with no understanding of, or interest in, the BIGGER picture. Shallow thinking (among other things) is digging this country (and world) into an ever deeper hole, which sooner or later will reach a point of no return if we don’t stop digging.

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    • Agreed. I understand some of the reasons people are disengaged from the dire threats to life on this planet. I don’t agree with them, but I understand why. But damn! We won’t need to worry about laws, justice, education, racism, religion, or any of that if we don’t quickly open our eyes and start taking care of this planet, our only home! Corporations fight against ANY regulations and they buy politicians like you and I buy a pack of crackers, then tell them how to vote. And we let this happen. From all I’ve read and seen with my own eyes, that point of no return is here, or nigh here. Sigh. When people get up one morning and have no water, no fresh food, then perhaps they will wake up, but then it will almost certainly be too late.

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  4. But there was that shipment of grain allowed to ship out? Yes, all else is grim SO FAR. Hopefully the former president’s excessively bad behavior will cause folks to sober up and reassess.

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    • I believe that more than a dozen ships carrying grain have left Ukraine since the agreement on July 22nd, so yes, that’s one bit of good news. I wouldn’t count on folks sobering up and seeing reason … they are basically in a cult and refuse to even listen to any opinions or facts that don’t fit in with what they believe. Fortunately they are the minority, though at times it sure doesn’t seem so, does it?

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  5. Excellent post, Jill. We are exhibiting several of the same behaviours here, where our politicians are so wrapped up in the ‘us v them’ game that real issues are forgotten about. It is even worse when it is causing civil war in the fight to be the leader of the current governing party: a real race to the bottom. Meanwhile, the alleged Prime Minister is playing the role of the Invisible Man, with a side order of Nero.

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    • Thank you, Clive! It’s something that’s been weighing on my mind for a few weeks. In the midst of all the hoopla and hyperbole about Trump, we have forgotten that there are really much bigger things to worry about. While I haven’t kept up as much as I’d like with your situation, I have tried to do a bit of research on Sunak and Truss … to be honest, I’m not impressed with either, but I think Truss somehow reminds me too much of Trump! I did read on the satire news page NewsThump that Boris did 15 minutes of work the other day! Sigh. We are all in a mess, your country and mine. I wish I saw a positive outcome, but at the moment I really don’t. However, we gotta keep working at it!

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      • You said it very well. You’re right on Sunak and Truss too: a pair of inept clowns with dubious opinions. Truss is the continuity Johnson candidate, likely to win and keep taking us down the road to ruin.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I thought, just from the little I’d read, that Truss was perhaps even worse than Johnson. Sigh. It seems like it will be a contest to decide the lesser of two evils. I hope people on your side of the pond have better sense than the ones here, but I’m not holding my breath.

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          • Given that Johnson picked a cabinet who were all incompetent, so that he’d look better by comparison, the choice is between two of those. Neither fills me with any confidence. The leader will be chosen by Tory party members, probably the least representative electorate in the country: full of geriatric blue rinsed old dears and Colonel Buffon-Tufton types. It may actually be worse than there!

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  6. Jill, great post. One thing that heightens a couple concerns is climate change exacerbates our global water crisis. I have cited this before, but in one of its reports on water supply, Duke Energy noted that climate change makes its water evaporation projection models worse by 11%. They need water for steam conversion to turn the turbines that create power. If the water levels are too low, they cut water supply to people in trade off for power. We are seeing crisis levels in water supply out west which are of grave concern. That is another reason why renewable energy sources like wind, tidal and solar energy are beneficial as they need not use water in the creation of electricity. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Keith!!! You are right … it ties in to both water and food shortages, though most people don’t realize it. PLUS … it is killing off our bee population that we rely on for almost all our food! Renewable energy is our only viable hope for the future. I just wish more people cared … too many seem to blow it off as irrelevant, don’t realize that if we don’t address the problem aggressively, we don’t have a future!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, natural gas retrieval takes huge amounts of water to frack which cannot be allowed to flow into our water supply. And, when coal, natural gas or nuclear reaction are used to heat water to steam, what flows back into the reservoirs is not the same amount losing some to dissipation. Water is the new oil, so energy creation that does not require water beats those which do. Keith

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        • Just today I read that the Colorado River has passed an unprecedented (there’s that word again!) threshold that will result in water shortages in several states. And this, my friend, is ONLY the beginning. Without water … we are in serious trouble! I don’t think people realize all this.


  7. I feel so lucky to have found your blog! You are such a breath of fresh air. The polarization in our country along with the absolutely ridiculous things our leaders say and do is exhausting. My wish is that strong leadership on climate will emerge and we will be able to halt the disaster.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Susan … and Welcome!!! Actually, you will find that for the most part I do write about the current political situation, because I feel we are in danger of losing what remains of our democratic foundation and may find ourselves living under an autocracy in the not-so-distant future. My goal is to help people understand, to open the eyes of those who don’t seem to care. But, I also try to cover other topics and each Monday I do a strictly NO POLITICS post with cartoons, jokes, and cute animals. And every Wednesday I do a ‘good people’ post highlighting people who are helping others, doing good things for the planet, for humanity, or even for animals! I hope you’ll visit often!

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