Move Over #FirstWorldProblems, Our World Problems Come First

ourworldproblemsSome of us are really lucky.  Some people live such great lives that their common complaints, considered “First World Problems”, have become second nature.  “It’s too cold for November.  I have to walk through the snow.  My iPhone broke.  My wi-fi is too slow.  Netflix isn’t working.  I hate driving in traffic.  Facebook changed something.”  Seriously.  Go to Twitter (or Hashtagr, created by some fellow Illini at UIUC) and search #FirstWorldProblems and just look at what some people complain about.  What terrible lives we have!

And then there are the other “worlds”.  Facing poverty, hunger, disease, and war, among other issues.  These guys aren’t complaining about trivial things and are just happy to be alive.  They struggle to survive or just live a simple life because it is all they are able to do.  Unfortunately for some people and some countries, there is nothing they can do.  And that sucks.  For those in developed countries and others that live rich, lavish lives, most of their concerns are #FirstWorldProblems.  And that’s sad.  Instead, those that are capable should think of certain issues that others face as OUR WORLD problems.

There’s A Storm Coming, Harry

Case in point? Climate change.  Sorry deniers, it’s real and it’s here.  I assume you heard about Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has led to some devastating damage to the Philippines.  Putting “Super” in front of a storm name is never good.  It was potentially the strongest storm in history with winds of 195 mph!!!

What Is Climate Change?

Carbon emissions and greenhouse gases get released into the atmosphere.  Those gases trap heat and moisture.  The air is warmer.  Water and surface temperatures get warmer.  Sea levels rise.  All these changes affect the climate.  And yes, while you cannot directly link this individual storm or other recent extreme weather events specifically to climate change, you have to believe that it’s part of the equation.

The difference between weather and climate is based on time – weather being short term and climate being long term.  From my understanding, climate change may or may not lead to increased frequency of weather events, but due to the conditions it creates (warmer water and moisture, raised sea levels, etc.), it will lead to increased intensity.  And that should worry everyone.  For real.

philippinesoneworldOne Love, One Heart. One World.

As I said earlier, this is an OUR WORLD problem.  Together, we can address this issue in the long run.  Yeah, this storm unfortunately affected the Philippines the hardest.  And people all over the world are sending prayers and donations, so at least we can help that way.  Which is great, because not only is it good to be charitable and they could really use the help, but because it shows that the problem in the Philippines is also OUR problem.  There are good, innocent people there.  And the rainforests there have created an important biodiversity hotspot.  We need to save each other and our resources.  We’re all inhabitants of planet Earth and we’re all in this together.  That same mentality needs to be applied not just in times of need, but in everyday life towards working together, finding solutions, and carrying out initiatives in order to fix OUR WORLD problems.

Coincidentally, the United Nations annual climate change summit is currently going on in Warsaw, Poland.  It was there that the Philippine delegate, Nadarev Sano, made a very emotional plea for them to get something achieved.

“I speak for my delegation, but I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm. I speak for the people now racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected. We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.”

And just as executive director of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, told delegates in Warsaw, “There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”

If we can’t protect the Earth (now), you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.

Super Typhoon Haiyan.  Super Storm Sandy.  The Colorado floods.  The extensive and intensive wildfires in the Southwest states of North American and also in Australia.  Hurricane Katrina.  So much damage came from these events.  We can’t let the suffering of others be ignored.  While we can’t go back and fix things in the past, we need to make changes and make things happen NOW in order to solve OUR WORLD problems and save the future from even worse situations.

But how?  Through better environmental education?  Carbon emission reductions? (here’s how you can measure your own carbon footprint)  Allocating funds for improved infrastructure and relief efforts?  A lot of the major changes may have to stem from the government and industry leaders, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to try to save the planet.  As things are now, and if things don’t change soon, this won’t be the last time we see an event so tragic.  You may have seen the movie, A Day After Tomorrow.  While it may be scientifically inaccurate, Dennis Quaid did see the warning signs.  This is real life: what will we do about ours?

If you would like information on how to donate to relief efforts for the Philippines, here’s how you can help.

About Michael Ponte

Michael is an awesome intern at PrintEco and is the blog manager. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and loves gettin' fit and is probably too good at fantasy sports leagues. One of Michael's current contributions to the environment is demanding encouraging others to do things right. Find Michael on

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