Can saving the world happen by saving the poor?
It’s a simple enough principle, to say we should help people, and you may not think it’s such a controversial one. But sometimes you do have to ask, what will helping this person cost me? And in the case of helping children in poverty in the developing world, that can be a really big question. Even beyond the simple monetary cost of helping a child at a given moment in their life, you also have to ask, what is the cost to the earth?
You maybe don’t come to the website of a Foster Care NGO to read about over-population issues, but there are 7 billion people on the planet now, and that’s beginning to take its toll. Even if this isn’t an issue you’re especially passionate about (Hey, we work with orphans, not populations. We’re not judging.) it’s still nice to know some people are keeping an eye on it. People who can tell us about Earth Overshoot Day, the day each year when we as a species use more resources than our planet is capable of producing. This year, that day came on August 13. That’s a new record, and not the good kind. Given that population in poorer countries is still growing, even as it begins to stabilise in the west, can we really afford to try to save the poor? Because really, saving people from poverty is only so useful if we all starve to death right after.
This is the question that statistician Hans Rosling addresses in his recent video, which is well worth a couple of minutes to watch. His answer is clear, if a little counter-intuitive at first: helping people is far from being an unaffordable expense, and empowering people to climb out of poverty is not some luxury that the human race doesn’t have the resources to pay for. Quite the opposite, it’s something we can’t afford to put off any longer, for all our sakes.
Helping people can be expensive and difficult. But sometimes, not helping them can be a complete disaster. In our case, it may be one of our best options for pushing Earth Overshoot Day back to where it should be – the start of the following year – and then not all starving to death together. Which sounds good to us.