Social Question

filmfann's avatar

How do we save the world?

Asked by filmfann (48385points) August 9th, 2010

What ideas do you have to change things for the better?
The world is a mess, and jellies out there must have some suggestions on what we can do to cut pollution, improve energy use, maintain and/or revive our endangered species, or put an end to war.

(This question came to me while pondering the death of Patricia Neal, who saved the world with the words “Klaatu Barada Nicto”)

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49 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

We were just talking about that at dinner last night. We’ve just about got it nailed. Let you know when the last i’s are crossed and t’s dotted.

ucme's avatar

Where’s Wall-e?

JilltheTooth's avatar

RIP Patricia Neal.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve watched for about 50 years the sort of turmoil our Country and the world go through. Far too many people are focused on the short term. I keep wondering who’s minding the store. I strongly feel that a “Council of Elders” would help us focus more on the long term, and help to reduce the often violent swings of policy we experience. They could be selected from among those who had distinguished themselves in the fields of science, diplomacy, the arts, the military, medical field, etc.

We could select them by a combination of a selection board ( who would compile a list of names for consideration ). The final council could be selected by vote, such as having people vote for a total of he seven ( or however many ) council members there would be. The top seven would then be council members for life.

The council could provide long-term guidance for major issues ( such as environmental concerns, energy development, etc. ). The government would then be constrained to operate within the overall planning of the Council.

I’ve not considered enforcement yet, which would be the most important consideration, I suspect.

Steve_A's avatar

Get the right people for the right job via proper tests and qualifications.

Cruiser's avatar

Raise the price of gasoline, water and electricity to the point where it is priced at the level a precious commodity should be and maybe people will respect, honor and better appreciate these valuable resources. Maybe then they will respect our waterways, water tables, adjust the thermostat and turn off lights and games systems not being used, walk or ride a bike and drive a fuel efficient car to wean our selves off this insane dependency on foreign oil.

jfos's avatar

If we stop using oil, we can stop playing the Sims in the Middle East, cut down on pollution, improve energy use, and end some war. I don’t know about reviving endangered species, but we can stop killing animals with oil spills and whatnot.

I just don’t know how we can stop using oil, though.

CMaz's avatar

The world does not need to be saved. Mankind does, and it starts with stopping greedy materialism.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Mankind needs to be saved from itself, and the world needs to be saved from mankind.

Steve_A's avatar

@Cruiser Good point, but I could just see people going crazy…..

Bluefreedom's avatar

Conservation, preservation, recycling, renewable clean energy, start respecting Mother Nature, increase organic food production, reduce waste, quit contributing to global warming (yes, it is a factual phenomenon despite what critics say), save more rain forest from what is currently being eradicated.

That’s all that immediately comes to mind. I’ll come up with more suggestions later.

Seek's avatar

1. Cancel cable. Seriously.
2. Study history as objectively and accurately as possible. School textbooks should be burned for fuel.
3. Abolish religion
4. Replace your fridge with this

ipso's avatar

Not only stop but reverse the population spike. That addresses all the concerns you mention and countless others (sans war). As I see it, there is no other way.

Unfortunately that’s not going to be very pretty. (“War, the World’s Only Hygiene”) But, population devastation is nature’s very own prescription.

[Addressing the other issues is] “like polishing the brass of the Titanic; it’s all going down, man! So fuck off, with your sofa units and your green stripe patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve and let the chips fall where they may. But that’s me; I could be wrong. Maybe it’s a terrible tragedy.” Fight Club

(notice the “green stripe pattern” refers to Fluther)

Seek's avatar


That’s a terribly depressing way of looking at things. I suppose you don’t take your kids to the doctor when they’re sick, because they’re just going to die someday, anyway, right?

Cruiser's avatar

@Steve_A People ARE going crazy….wasting resources and wantonly and unnecessarily polluting our planet. It is crazy NOT to implement drastic in your face measures to wake people up to the need to do stuff NOW not 30 years from now when it is far too late to undo the damage that we have inflicted on this fragile planet.

ipso's avatar


Having just finished Cormac McCarthy’s book No Country for Old Men, I’m starting The Road. Maybe that’s it.

What would Spock say to the population spike and sustainability?

Seek's avatar

Spock would say that it is our biological imperative to procreate and to nourish our young. Changing our own social constructs would be much more logical than attempting to thwart Nature.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We save the world by focusing firstly on what exactly we do that affects others in a negative fashion. Living in the United States and consuming like we do, it is inevitable that our habits affects the lives of thousands of people (not to mention animals and the environment) and are harming them because we like it all big and cheap. When one begins to become aware that our choices make a difference, one can take different actions and refuse certain industries (even if you think it matters not, it does), one can stop their imprint on the environment, one can refuse to eat certain things, etc. All of us can’t do everything at the same time but each of us can focus our singular passions into a way of living. For example, my activism centers around gender and sexuality as well as feminist issues – for Alex, he is more concerned with the political process and environmentalism, for my best friend it is about prison and post-colonialist issues but, together, we stand for a more just world, for a vision (call this utopian and cliche, it doesn’t matter because it hasn’t yet been realized so another revolution is on the way) of humanity that is inclusive and that isn’t as stratified. There is a whole hell of a lot wrong with the United States of Corporations and it’s affecting education and healthcare and freedoms. We need to wake ourselves up and realize what farce and pretense our politicians are and how we’re beholden to the dollar – the proof is everywhere. We need to raise socially minded children because WE CAN NOT AFFORD NOT TO. Whatever you care about and what those you love care about, stand for something and do something that matters – volunteer, give time, give money, teach others, read and learn and simply, wake the hell up.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Just prepare yourself. The Road is very gruesome.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir GA. What did you have for breakfast today?

kevbo's avatar

By what measure? More people inhabit the planet now than ever before. Is that not success?

It’s interesting to think about the global warming problem (which I tend to disbelieve for fairly unique reasons) and environmental damage that we’ve done. You know who for the most part didn’t have these problems and did alright for a thousand years or more? Indians. Why on earth would we assume that the earth is crying out for a techno-gizmoed-out solution when things were just fine, environmentally speaking, prior to the industrial revolution?

As far as war goes, it is and always has been about control of resources (with ideology used to control populations for labor) and has its roots in the dawning of agriculture when increased food yields created increased populations which required increased food yields. This is the moment in human history where demographics stratified into richer and poorer and as societies grew and bumped into each other, conflicts were born.

What’s the anatomy of these conflicts? If there are four tribes with their respective territories, and one tribe decides to become violent and attack another, the attacked tribe can either a) defend themselves, b) submit themselves or c) run away. (Can you think of a d, e, or f?) In any of those three cases, what befalls the attacked tribe’s territory? It becomes “infected” with the paradigm of a violent tribe. Over time, what happens to all the territories? They rise/sink to the level of the most violent of the four tribes.

Sadly, the world is run by people who have incentives to keep up the turmoil, not the least of which is the power derived from dividing and conquering the rest of us into manageable blocs. They (and we, by following what we are told) pump us full of fear so that we’ll stay compliant in keeping the system going.

There’s also a level of awareness that we’re missing, which perhaps is understandable because most everyone is so driven by their own fears and needs. So, for example, how do we solve the problem of poverty in some hypothetical African nation? Is it by sending money to help a starving child? Or, do we look at the more systemic problem that perhaps these people are impoverished because their society is kept divided into rich and poor to enable extraction of their natural resources for pennies on the dollar so that you and I can buy all our guns, glitter, and gadgets? How many of us even see the second situation (and see it as a problem)? How many of us simply blame them for not having a decent government and not having their act together because we can’t even imagine the possibility that they would be subjugated economically by a hypothetical western power? (After all, we give them so much aid every year—but who would imagine that aid is really a way of transferring tax dollars to the beltway bandits who lock up contracts to provide services and infrastructure forced upon other countries? And who would imagine that this scheme is designed to keep smaller nations subjugated through debt?)

Is the kind of fear mentioned above present in the end point, where we have presumably solved these problems? Are we still competing and striving for all the resources we can get our hands on, both individually and collectively? Do we continue to follow ideology that demonizes “other” societies? If not, what are we like? How do we act?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos Dark Chocolate Organic Oatmeal

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Nice. I thought my brain was kicking ass this morning, after a fruit smoothie and Honey Bunches of Oats… but I’ll guess I have to try organic oatmeal.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos :) I’m actually not feeling at all awake or energetic – this kind of energy, passion or anger is organic to my being, though and when asked and triggered by certain questions or events, it all comes pouring out.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Then maybe you’ll have to try a fruit smoothie and Honey Bunches of Oats…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos I have fruit smoothies/protein shakes the rest of the days and then others days I have Kashi Go Lean Crunch…anyway, sorry @filmfann for highjacking the thread in favor of breakfast talk but there must be a metaphor about life in there somewhere…@jfos – you and I can do it over PM

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

This is from a note I put on Facebook a few days ago… not a lot of answers, but I hope it adds to the conversation:

Lately I seem to be trapped in a loop of a of head space where I’m not sure if I should just say screw it and settle into the predefined systems of control, or really rebel and what the latter would mean, really.

I’ve become increasingly aware lately that things are really beyond screwed up in this country, and in this world. I could almost let go the fact of our invented monetary systems if those invented systems were managed in an appropriate way by the issuing governments. That is to say, that 2% of the populace wouldn’t be holding well over 90% of all the wealth. That’s some serious mismanagement. Less than 10% is table scraps for a few semi-worthy peons. And as if that’s not bad enough by itself, it’s how that money is acquired, through the absolute and unrelenting destruction of our planet’s resources and converting those resources into poor product, built to be replaced (often), and usually having a toxic side effect product. (But they can dump that mess somewhere, probably in a third world nation where it’s easy to buy off the local officials.)

Our democracy, or republic, whatever distinction you want to make, used to be just that, but somewhere we became a capitalist republic, and became afraid of even considering anything socially minded at all. Even though, that’s really what a government is, right? A provider of a society? I expect my military to be defending me, not out scraping up new oil fields for Halliburton or new farmland for Monsanto. I expect my elected officials to represent me and my neighbors, not securing contracts for the insurance companies.

I expect to be able to find a job.
This is a sore point for me lately for obvious reasons. I’m extraordinary, seriously. I’m brilliant, meticulous, well educated, and able to hold my own in nearly any unexpected or straining work situation. So what’s the problem? Is my resume bad, or my cover letter? I don’t think so. There just aren’t enough jobs. Which is nice for corporations as the market of job seekers is desperate and willing to settle for even lower pay than what was likely already a declining pay versus inflation before they lost their job. This is more money mismanagement, since jobs would exist if people had money to spend. Which we don’t. Or at least I sure don’t. We’re in a situation where this generation, us young cynical 20 somethings, will be the first generation in a very long time that will make significantly less than our parents (and probably less than our grandparents, considering inflation.) What does that say about how money is distributed now?

I could continue on nearly endlessly, as I peel back each layer of repulsion and underneath is something even worse. Education that’s not designed to educate literate critical thinkers but to indoctrinate workers. Healthcare that serves its pharmaceutical and insurance overlords before it serves a single patient. Government agencies designed to protect the environment used to maintain decades out of date policy that favors corporations “right” to pollute “their” land, water and air.

I get furious. And I wonder what the next step is. I wonder when I will say that too much has been taken. I wonder if others will agree. I think people can only be pushed so far into a corner, and that the veil of our perceived control is falling.

I like to think that we’re all cells in an evolving human body, and that I can help that evolution in an appropriate context of also helping other life on Earth. I think things are due to get pretty extreme soonish, and that many of these issues will be corrected in the reconstruction that follows.

CMaz's avatar

We are a virus. We will consume all that there is to consume. Then die.

tinyfaery's avatar

We can “save” the world by killing ourselves. I no longer believe that humanity can be “saved”. We just have to live our lives as we see fit and wait for death. After death, what happens to the world and humanity will no longer be of a concern.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery It is a concern of mine as to how my children will live and therefore, once I die, it will matter.

tinyfaery's avatar

It matters now, it won’t matter to you when you are dead. That’s why I said we just have to live our lives the best way we (you) can. Hoping for the future may be part of your “good life”, but it’s not part of mine.

Nothing will matter to you when you are dead. You will no longer exist.

Austinlad's avatar

I’m not a doom-sayer, but according to this article, ” some scientists put the odds of human survival through this century at no better than 50–50” no matter what we do.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was going to say exterminate the people and the world will be fine, but I didn’t want to get into too dark of an issue. Didn’t have to worry I guess.

wundayatta's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Wow. Your post gave me such nostalgia. I’m sure it won’t help, but everything you said in that post, I said thirty years ago. We were cynical. We thought our parents had destroyed the world because they didn’t care about it, environmentally. We couldn’t find jobs because of the recession, despite the fact we had graduated from good colleges. We thought we would be the first generation that would never make as much as our parents did. We were furious, too.

I can’t guarantee this, but I fully believe that the economy will turn around and you will get a job and there will be some progress on the environmental front and on the population front. You may keep your cynicism for the rest of your life, but I think it will soften.

How do we save the world?

Education, reduced population, reduced resource use, better problem solving, dissemination of knowledge, greater respect for “the other,” and on and on. I’m sure everyone has a laundry list, and I’m sure the lists don’t all match.

For example, there’s a list that goes: more faith in God (of whatever kind); or freer capitalism; or more religious economic values; controlling women or other lesser beings and on and on.

What I think is most important is compassion. We need to be able to walk in each others footpaths.

What I think is most important is dance. Dance—improvisational dance—can help us get out of our verbal minds and into nonverbal ways of thinking and relating to the world. Relating to people in this mode makes it easier to see the other as yourself. There is no language barrier any more. Communication is instant. No translation needed.

If all the people in our world can dance together, there won’t be anything we can’t accomplish.

lilikoi's avatar

I hate to break it to ya, but the world doesn’t need saving. It sounds like you’re more concerned with saving ourselves, as in humanity, which should not be confused with saving the world. There are a lot of things we need to do, but I don’t have time to list them all on Fluther.

zophu's avatar

Help each other comprehend the world. That is how we save it.

@lilikoi too busy saving the world elsewhere? :)

YARNLADY's avatar

We don’t need to lift a finger. The world did just fine without us for billions and billions of years, and will continue just fine without us long after we are gone.

rooeytoo's avatar

Too much thinking on a global scale and not enough thinking in a “what can I do mode.” If everyone started with themselves and did what they can do to conserve the resources they feel are being depleted and diminish the devastation they feel they are wreaking on the planet it would accomplish a lot more than sitting around saying oh woe is me, the nasty Americans or the greedy corporate guys or the rich people or whomever are ruining the world, just do it! You do it, because really that is all you can control, that is yourself.

@wundayatta – that is true every generation blames the ones before for their terrible plight although in reality each generation has more leisure time, more money, more everything.

People starved in 1929 during the depression. Economies rise and fall, if you live within your means, save money then you don’t have to worry as much. That was true then and now. I knew old people who said they saved one dollar a week no matter what and when they retired it was a nice little pile. The point being most anyone can save something each week even if it means forgoing one latte or beer or Coke (and by the way a 600ml bottle of coke cost $4.80 in a gas station last week). I don’t like to sound old and preachy but I do tire of the whining about the bad guys and the rough deal everyone has today.

@YARNLADY – ain’t it the truth, it may be a different world but that also would be true with or without us and the dinosaurs.

skfinkel's avatar

@ipso Just today I heard a person talking on the radio on this very topic. He had many ideas, and according to him, we have to incorporate them immediately (eg, get rid of cement and paved roads and preserve every inch of farm land). However, the way to control population he suggested (and I know this is true) is to give women the world over their rights—rights to vote and own things. And power over their lives, and contraceptives. In countries where women have a choice, they have far fewer children—in some European countries, women are not having enough children to reproduce their populations. (sorry I don’t know the name of the man, but it was on an alternative (liberal) station.)

CMaz's avatar

Buy one get one free. 50% off.

Once we get past that mentality, there just might be hope.

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo If you have no power and you don’t believe anything you do will make much difference, what can you do but whine? It is only when you start to see that what you do does change things that you can take action instead of whining. The older you get, in general, the more likely it is that you will believe you can affect things. Young people generally feel disenfranchised. I know I did when I was young.

When I was young, I never could have imagined that in twenty years, all the leaders would be people my age—some of them people I have worked with in the past. Some are even people I lived with. Back then, we were radicals with no hope of ever making a difference. Now we are the “man.” We are the system. And, unfortunately, we are as corrupt as we thought leaders were when we were young.

When I was a young activist, I stayed at the house of some leaders of the groups I was working for for a month. These were people with ideals and who believed in the right things: protecting the environment, workers, and fighting racism and whatever. 20 years later, one of them is in or has been in jail for embezzlement. He may have been trying to save his organization, or he may have just been greedy. I don’t know.

On the other hand, his wife (if she is still his wife), is now a member of Congress. It is disappointing and elating both at the same time. When I was 23 and living in their house, I never could have imagined it.

I don’t think young people today can believe that in 20 or 30 years they will be the leaders of the country. Who knows where @Simone_De_Beauvoir will be, but I predict it will be a position much more important than she even dreams of now. All she has to do is keep plugging away, and it will happen.

This is the nature of things. What is sad to me is that we do not have good ways of keeping more of our young people involved and making important contributions to the work society is doing. All they want is a chance to contribute and make a difference, and so often all they get are closed doors.

I really don’t understand it. All middle aged folk were young once. Do we forget what happened? Or do we think that that’s what I had to deal with then and it was good enough for me, so it should be good enough for the youth today?

CMaz's avatar

“Do we forget what happened? ”
Nope, we just became wise.

Youth is a wonderful time to dream. Full of all that piss and vinegar. It’s what keeps us safe and moves us along. But, there is a time to cut through all the smoke and call a spade a spade. That, only accomplished when you have slowed down enough to smell the roses and understand/accept how they actually came into existence.

Desensitized to the drama and understanding (seeing the light at the end of the tunnel) that realistic has a greater meaning when you keep it real.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta I can believe that I will do something important in terms of what I consider important but I don’t think I will be a leader of the country, just for the country.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

This recession is significantly worse than the one in the 80’s because it is still the same recession after 25 years of artificial “boosting” finally failed.

rooeytoo's avatar

@wundayatta – Realism replaces idealism. That’s what life does to most folks. And if you are smart and want to make your plight better or the plight of others better, you work harder at your goals instead of whining how you have it harder because of the greed of the “thems” and how difficult it is for “us.”

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

I multi-task and “whine” and work at the same time.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre – takes skill to manage all three at the same time, I know because that is what I usually did too!

mattbrowne's avatar

Think big and start small.

No more wars. Let’s start by using nonviolent communication.

No more poverty. Let’s start by empowering people in poor countries to apply self help.

No more garbage cans. Let’s start by buying products that can be recycled completely.

We don’t save the world as long as we just talk about the big steps we need to take at some point in the future. Cradle to cradle design and manufacturing won’t happen overnight. But it’s the only way to accommodate 9 billion people or more in the future. We have to act now. By using small steps every day and tell other people about them.

liminal's avatar

We can surely work on making it better.

“In large measure, the crisis of global-scale social and environmental disintegration now underway can be explained in terms of a confrontation between the conflicting imperatives of the money world—which holds the power of decision—and the living world of people and nature—which bears the tragic consequences of those decisions.” David C. Korten from Globalizing civil society : reclaiming our right to power It’s a quick, concise, and worthy reading.

Public policy needs to be organized around justice and sustainability. While it is good to consider and tame our personal consumption and usage choices, it is not enough. We need to support government policy, social entrepreneurship, and not-for-profit movements that seek to create viable and lasting solutions.

If I was more educated in the matters of economics I would rant against the current free market system that daily widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is time to start building local societies that can sustain themselves. Our current economic frame-work of speeding up and sustaining economic growth is running us into the ground. We have enough. We need to come into balance with one another and the planet, it’s imperative.

—end rant—

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