Home Opinion OPINION: Democrats Discuss ー We can afford the solutions we need

OPINION: Democrats Discuss ー We can afford the solutions we need

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Sam Smith is a junior studying geography with a minor in political science and French. He is a member of the Ohio University College Democrats. The following article reflects the opinion and views of the author and does not present the thoughts of the Ohio University College Democrats. 

This is a submitted column, and please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. 


If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Among all of our icebreakers, this question is one of the least fair. Why should we have to pick just one? Indeed, the solutions to many of our greatest challenges — like hunger, poverty and climate change — are well within reach both in technological and monetary terms.

In light of recent claims by U.N. climate scientists that suggest that a hard pause to global warming would cost only $300 billion, it is imperative that we shed light on the reality that most of our problems would not cost too much to fix.

Climate change is not the only problem that has a relatively affordable solution. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the U.N. said that we could end global hunger by 2030 for a total annual cost of $267 billion.

The eradication of extreme poverty has a similar tune. Jeffrey Sachs, a leading development economist, said that directed spending of about $175 billion a year for 20 years would be enough to end global extreme poverty.

Of course, money is only as good as the people and systems that apply it, so the effectiveness of these estimates is limited by how we direct money to the right places. Still, the people behind these figures are highly skilled and experienced development practitioners, and it is safe to assume that the estimates they produce are at least accurate in a ballpark sense.

Regardless, we must move past the numbers because there are real people behind the statistics of global suffering and the monetary estimates surrounding how we help them. This is a human rights issue, and there is no sum of money too large when millions — and sometimes even billions — of people are suffering from something that we have the capacity to mitigate. 

So, let’s put these numbers in perspective using the $300 billion estimate for a climate change solution. In fact, $300 billion is less than half of the U.S. defense budget, less than one-third of Apple’s total value and less than 0.4% of the world’s total GDP. It is also $10 billion less than the combined worth of the world’s three wealthiest people.

When only three people hold enough wealth to halt global warming, there is absolutely no excuse not to act. The same goes for nearly all of our other challenges. It is time to pressure societal elites, governments and corporations to start using their capital to actually help people. Also, the next time someone asks you which world problem you would like to fix, your answer should be: “All of them.”

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