Science

Forget Climate Change: The Biggest Problem Facing the World Is…

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…poverty, says RealClearScience's Alex Berezow.

The single biggest threat facing humanity is poverty. That's a mundane topic; it's neither sexy nor trendy, but it's nonetheless true.

About 1.3 billion people don't have electricity….

The lack of adequate healthcare explains why, in the world's poorest countries, six of the tenleading causes of death are infectious diseases: lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neonatal infections.

In fact, microbiologists in particular would disagree that climate change is the world's #1 threat. Instead, their biggest fear is the terrifying rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria, as well as the ever-present threat of deadly viruses going pandemic, such as influenza and MERS….

Did you know that 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind annually from vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within 12 months? You won't find that sad statistic on the front page (or on any page, for that matter) of our newspapers. But think about it. Comprehend it. It might just change your perspective on global priorities.

Berezow doesn't say climate change—and possibly catastrophic effects of weather, agriculture, and more—isn't cause for concern. But he rightly points out that climate change (formerly global warming) is a relatively slow-moving situation and one that we can adapt to in all sorts of ways. But poverty and its effects—which are remediable through such easy interventions as cheap or free multivitamins and the creation of more potable water supplies—are with us right now. "Tackling the world's real problems," he notes, "doesn't make for exciting television." But it might actually make for a better world right now.

Read the whole column. And also check out the Copenhagen Consensus, which produces cost-benefit analyses of how various interventions will increase (or not) global well-being.

Katherine Mangu-Ward interviewed Berezow about his recent book, Science Left Behind: