“A selfish argument for making the world a better place”.
Why should you care about the well-being of people half a globe away?
I have been caught up many times into the same argument with people who would argue that altruism is “not a real thing”. While I maintain that altruism is “a thing”, I found that this video makes a good argument for doing good without requiring altruism. I hope it will get “altruism skeptics” on the side of pro-actively doing good without feeling disingenuous to their world views. And who knows, they might discover altruism by accident!
Although I enjoyed watching this video enough to want to share it, I also found that it possibly clashes with a book I am reading at this very moment:
“World on edge. How to prevent environmental and economic collapse” by Lester R. Brown. ISBN 978-0-393-33949-9. Order from the editor.
P. 8: “Mainstream economics pays little attention to the sustainable yield thresholds of the earth’s natural systems. Modern economics thinking in policymaking have created an economy that is so out of sync with the ecosystem on which depends that it’s approaching collapse. How can we assume that the growth of an economic system that is shrinking the earth’s forests, eroding its soil, depleting its aquafiers, collapsing its fisheries, elevating its temperature, and melting its ice sheets can simply be projected into the long-term future? What is the intellectual process underpinning these extrapolations?”
The video above makes a good example of “techno-optimism” funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. While it is true that we can make the pie bigger with innovation and sharing, it would be delusional to pretend that the size of the pie can be grown to the infinite on a finite planet.
Lester Brown, in this 2012 presentation is proposing a grand plan for combining environmental and economic sustainability - today rebranded the “green new deal” and championed by the likes of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez . Being a techno optimist is not a bad thing on its own. Now, it is important to be pragmatic as we use innovation attempting to improve the lives of many AND the condition of the planet.
Finally, I don’t think doing good on a small or large scale for selfish or altruistic motives matters as much as being conscious of the kind of change one is affecting the world with. Is my action affecting a change that makes the pie bigger? Or is it a change that will consume more pie than should be reasonably be produced in the first place?
I believe that soon or later humanity will be forced to take action to survive with the scale and speed that no previous crisis has ever prepared us to before. What is sad to think is that we may only be acting “once it is too late“, not by anticipating, but only to repair the damage that has been done. A small number of us already know, but too small a number of us take appropriate action. More of us need to know, and those who know must take action, for themselves, and for us all, the living world.