The following question was posed as a thought exercise: “If you were given $1 billion to help the world, by solving a problem, what would it be?” My mind immediately went to problems such as poverty, but let’s dig deeper. What does solving poverty look like? Is it allowing everyone in the world to enjoy a certain living standard? In order to do this, we need resources and energy to build infrastructure, provide clothing, and food. Therefore, this will drain the resources that our planet has to offer faster than we already are.
For the sake of argument, let’s say we do find an infinite amount of resources that we are able to consume to help us solve our world’s problems. As we transform the resources into energy or goods, there are bi-products such as heat and pollution. This leads to the next problem to solve: How do we clean up this pollution, such that we are able sustain life? To illustrate this, let’s examine yeast populations during the fermentation process. As the yeast feed, they start to divide and grow their population. However, they also create the bi-product of alcohol and carbon-dioxide. At a certain point, they produce so much waste (alcohol) that their population begins to die off complete. At what point will we populate our planet, produce enough waste that we can’t sustain life anymore?
From that line of reasoning I think learning to clean up after ourselves, so that we can continue to sustain life on this planet is the problem that I would want to solve. Some questions to ponder are: What are the sources of pollution today? Why is that pollution being emitted? Are there alternative methods to achieve a given goal without emitting pollution? If pollution must be emitted for a given process, must that process occur on earth? I think all of these questions may lead to interesting future businesses that can help shape our future. Companies like Tesla are already helping solve this problem by replacing gasoline powered vehicles with electricity powered vehicles. Where is this electricity coming from? From renewable energy sources such as solar panels. Where else can we bring this thinking to?