Let’s look at some global issues to see if you find something you feel passionate about.
Global issues could be any issue, problem or risk that adversely affects the global community and environment, possibly in a catastrophic way.
Looking at some of these key global issues will help you to discern what you are genuinely passionate about. Some will resonate with you, others might even disgust you, and some topics you might simply find boring. What’s important is that it triggers emotion within you.
This video is a part of my series on Visual Diaries. I will teach you how to develop your artistic style and voice in this course. One vital stepping stone is finding a topic you are passionate about and feeling eager to change or resolve it.
I have identified 7 Major Global Issues with many subcategories to get you started. The seven main categories are:
- Environmental Sustainability
- Social Sustainability
- Economic Sustainability
- Fringes and Frontiers
- Safety and Security
Please bear in mind that these topics overlap and flow into one another. Some can even be condensed more. But for the sake of our videos, I have finally decided to stick to these 7.
The goal of this video is not to discuss each and every topic in detail but rather to probe your mind. To intentionally ask questions, raise ideas that you can either agree with or disagree with.
One would think that the internet should unite the human race by making the same information universally accessible to everyone. It enables us to share information freely and should give us a deeper understanding of each other viewpoints, cultures, beliefs and values. However, recent events have shown the complete opposite. The world is not united. Instead, it is becoming increasingly polarised.
The opposing views with regards to Vaccines have torn families apart.
Brexit has caused outrage and protests in the UK.
The January 6th attack in 2021 on the US capitol shows us just how big the divide currently is in America.
Issues like abortion and immigration have been weaponised in many societies.
This is Polarization. It is when different groups have such opposing views that they simply cannot see eye to eye.
How is polarisation fuelled? People argue that spreading Fake News stories on websites and social media platforms is to blame. All these events, riots and protests were charged with fake news. You see, Social media and free news websites rely on ad revenue for income.
They will do whatever to keep you and me engaged and clicking on content. They offer information that will draw us in and keep us online for longer. They often do this by triggering our emotions, purposefully creating outrage and deliberately manipulating politics. These platforms benefit financially from Fake News. It has gotten so bad that some say the Information Age has been replaced with the Post-Truth Age.
Big tech companies use algorithms to keep our attention on their platforms. When we click on adds, follow people or like posts, the Algorithms will show us more of the same type of content. Over time this creates Echo Chambers. An Echo chamber is an isolated environment in which you can only see information that already reflects your beliefs. You have no exposure to other viewpoints or new information. You are trapped in an Echo, with the same information over and over.
These Algorithms have not been programmed to have public responsibility or to provide accurate information. They are built to prioritise clicks to generate more income. So this leads us to the important question, How do we know what we are reading or watching is, in fact, based on the truth? How do we protect ourselves and others from Fake News? After all, Democracy requires informed citizens for it to work. Lets look at some other global issues.
Next up we will look at Sustainability. Sustainability has three pillars, Environment, Social and Economics. Another way to remember this is the planet, people and profit.
- Environmental Sustainability
As huma ns we are destroying the planet. We are raising the Earth’s temperature by releasing too many greenhouse gasses. We are consuming finite resources at an alarming speed. We are polluting water sources, groundwater and our oceans. We are destroying forests, habitats and biodiversity. Many animal species are now endangered due to our careless actions. It is time that we as humans, take responsibility for our impact on our planet and change our ways.
Environmental Sustainability encompasses a large variety of subtopics.
You might feel more passionate about one of the subcategories than the entire big picture. Feel free to delve deeper into these topics and focus only on one to develop a strong visual message. I will touch on a few issues here that I am drawn to.
Did you know that the meat industry also causes Global Warming? It accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Farming animals requires a lot of land, but the meat industry’s main contributor to greenhouse gases comes from cow farts. Yes, cow farts and poops produce large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. This leads us to two new topics. The vegan movement and lab-grown meat.
The violence toward animals in the meat industry and its direct link to global warming has led to a major increase in the Vegan Movement. Vegans do not consume or use any animal products. However, a large part of the world’s population is hooked on a steak and juicy burgers. Some companies have made plant-based meat alternatives which taste and looks exactly the same as a normal beef patty. Two of the start-up companies are Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods. Many celebrities such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Trevor Noah, Jay-Z and tennis star Serena Williams have endorsed these companies. Katy Perry has rocked up as an actual hamburger at quite a few events to promote Beyond Burgers.
So not everybody wants to go Vegan. Another alternative is to stick to meat but not to use animals. This has led to major scientific breakthroughs concerning Lab Grown Meats. Yes, meats that are cultivated in laboratories. Some of you could be screaming eeewh, no, I won’t eat it, but trust me, it is delicious. It’s real meat without tearing down a forest or taking a life. A win-win situation if you ask me.
Let’s jump to another subcategory – Water Security. One of the most pressing environmental concerns currently is Water Security. Humans are running out of clean drinking water, and our groundwater is drying up. We are constantly dumping pollution into the little fresh water we do have. Less clean water means less food.
The frivolous use of water leads me to another sub-topic, Fast Fashion. The textile industry has a huge environmental impact. Our planet is being swamped in clothes, with some 56 million tons sold per anum. It is destroying our planet’s water supply. One item such as a t-shirt uses thousands of litres to produce. It’s the demand from the fibres we are using. Cotton is one of the thirstiest crops that we produce on this planet. So there are two issues here: (1) crops like cotton sucking up water, and (2) synthetic materials (plastic) that are cheaper are made of plastics.
So why do we buy so many clothes? Because marketing and trends compel us to. Welcome to Fast Fashion. Buying clothing every week is relatively new. Before the 90s, designers made clothes for two fashion seasons per year. Where stores used to change their ranges 2 to 4 times a year according to the seasons, it now changes ranges as much as 10 – 12 times a year. H&M and Zara have new clothes every single week.
Fast Fashion is a huge business. Every month Zara replaces ¾ of its collection. Its marketing strives to make visitors visit a store 17 times per year. More clothes mean lower prices and lower quality. Have you ever wondered what happens to all the clothes that don’t get sold? Or all the clothes that you toss away since you simply need to have the latest shirt? They get dumped or destroyed. Fifteen tons of clothing from H&M fashion chains are destroyed every year. Mass-producing cheap clothes is a disaster for the environment because a lot of it contains plastic.
Welcome to Kantamanto Market in Ghana. Sustainable fashion activists and journalists identified the market as one of the primary receivers of imported unusable used clothing in the fast fashion industry. 40% of the garments that enter the market and are sorted by traders get discarded into landfills. Roughly 5 million garments leave Kantamanto Market every week! Off to Ghana dumps with you! The world’s unwanted fashion ends its journey here. The market must dispose of more than 160 tonnes of textile waste daily. During the monsoon season in Ghana, fierce rains wash all the unwanted clothes into the waterways, man y of them ending up in the ocean.
Ok so let’s Zoom out back to the main topic, Environmental Sustainability. You can see its pretty important that we address this issue and change our ways fast. In 2015 Global Leaders agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C – ideally 1.5°C. To meet these goals, global carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
If we fail, the planet will suffer from extreme climate change, resulting in floods, hurricanes, and draughts that would lead to water and food shortage. We need to increase political pressure because it will force governments to take immediate action. Our planet will survive in its new form but will we?
- Social Sustainability
Let’s look at Sustainability as another one of our Global Issues. Sustainability is a societal goal that broadly aims for humans to co-exist on planet Earth for a long time safely. Social sustainability focuses on human welfare. It’s all about people. Ask yourself, “How well is a community doing?” “Is it sustainable?” “Can it keep going on like this forever?”
For all of us to live in peace, we must acknowledge each other’s diversity. We are all born with characteristics that we cannot change, even if we want to. These include race, age, Nationality, Ethnicity, Culture, Gender, Sexual Appearance, Physical Ability and Mental Ability. We need to acknowledge these differences, value and celebrate them and stop fighting about them.
Social sustainability also encompasses Equality and strives to reduce systemic disadvantages of particular groups of people. It also considers social cohesion. We must ask ourselves, “Does society make sense as a whole?” “Do we all have a say in how society is managed?” Social sustainability looks at the quality of life and people’s living standards, for example, affordable housing for all, medical support, access to education, employment opportunities, and safety and security.
In short, Social Sustainability ensures that society works. It asks: Is society equitable? Is our society diverse? Does it offer a quality of life for all? And above all, is it socially cohesive?”
Social sustainability is about showing us that we are all connected. We don’t thrive when society struggles. Research has shown that long-term economic growth is severely dampened by unequal societies. We need to improve life for all people, regardless of different incomes, gender, cultures, ages and professions. Social Sustainability promotes integration, inclusion and solidarity.
- Economic Sustainability
We have looked at the planet and people. Now we need to look at profit.
Economic sustainability refers to practices that support the long-term economic growth of a country or a business without negatively impacting the social and environmental aspects of the community.
The global business community is one of the worst offenders regarding environmental harm. Households account for less than 10% of all carbon emissions in the USA. Industries make up the rest. We must embrace a new way of doing business—prioritising the environment’s and people’s health.
Countries and businesses should avoid practices like burning fossil fuels, creating food waste, using harmful manufacturing methods such as dumping wastewater into streams, rivers and lakes, and preventing chemical leakage in the groundwater. Thankfully, various economic sustainability practices are taking hold worldw ide to reduce further carbon footprint. The aim is to create a “circular economy” instead of an “extraction economy.”
Various economic sustainability examples prove that some organisations genuinely care about our environment’s health and future. However, more businesses needs to get on board.
- Fringes and frontiers
This is probably my favourite topic because it is so positive.
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the world’s problems? Everything just seems to be going downhill. The Media constantly bombards us with doom and gloom. Barack Obama asked, “If you had to choose a time to be born and you didn’t know who you’d be or where you’d be, what time would you choose?” It ultimately boils down to if you believe the world is becoming a better or worse place to live.
The trend is going up! That’s right; this is the best time to be alive. If you believe otherwise, you might be suffering from historical ignorance. We need to step back and look at history as a whole, and we will see all the beautiful changes and innovations making our world a better place to live. This is where Fringes and Frontiers come in. It refers to the fringe of our human knowledge, the edge that we are constantly peering over to discover more.
We are learning and discovering now at a staggeringly new rate. Topics include Biohacking, where we can now make designer babies; we can even attempt to breed glow-in-the-dark dogs. Then there is, Virtual Reality (VR) that immerses us and blurs the edges between reality and fiction. Then we have Bionic Humans. This refers to merging man and machine. Humans who have bionic implants. These highly advanced pieces of technological equipment are merged into the human body. We have space exploration and colonising another planet we could potentially call home. Many other cool inventions keep improving our everyday lives, such as talking glasses, self-driving cars, and smart canes for blind people with built-in google maps.
In movies and pop culture, the rapid technological advances are often depicted with robots taking over the world. Why is that? That’s because all this development and inventions come with great ethical responsibility. What would happen if becoming a bionic human was only possible for a few billionaires? That would create a new kind of racism. What would happen if designer baby technology was used to implement gender bias and only breed specific talents?
- Safety and Security
When we think of safety and security, we generally think of crime and wars, however, in the current, interconnected world, security challenges are becoming increasingly complex. Globalisation and hyper-connected technologies have created new safety and security challenges. Modern times introduced cyber-crime, terrorism, Global health crises and environmental disasters that have impacted all of us around the globe.
Cyber security refers to the hacking and the sharing of data and information. The sharing of data is often referred to as “big brother is watching you” The term originates from George Orwell’s novel 1984. ‘Big Brother Is Watching You’ is a slogan that appears on posters of Big Brother throughout the novel. The phrase is a threat meant to keep people in line: it reminds them that they are constantly under surveillance from the Party.
In China they have developed a social credit system. It is a broad regulatory framework intended to report on the ‘trustworthiness’ of individuals, corporations, and governmental entities. China’s social credit system ranks citizens and punishes them with throttled internet speeds and flight bans if the Communist Party deems them untrustworthy. People can be punished if they drive badly, buy too many video games, or steal. It’s not a unified, nationwide system yet, but China plans on eventually making it mandatory for everyone.
Other incidents regarding data safety you can investigate include Wiki Leaks and the story of Edward Snowden.
Physical Security is your own personal safety. In countries with high crime rates, one has to worry about your personal safety constantly. We also have to worry about our family and friends’ security. In South Africa, High Jacking is a common occurrence, as well as violent crimes and rape. In America, people are also more and more concerned with their personal safety. Mass shootings, have increased in public spaces and school at an alarming rate. Gun Control is high politicised and monetised.
Then there is Global Security. Even though this has been considered one of the most peaceful times on earth ever, it is not without wars. In 2022 Russia declared war on Ukraine. Sparking a global crisis with regards to safety between countries. The war has caused global leaders to rally behind Ukraine to defend freedom and democracy.
Global Health Security support. Emerging diseases in one place can rapidly spread also having an economic impact. Systems for international disease surveillance are therefore needed to address this issue.
Globally we need to support global security and stability by enhancing prevention, preparedness and response capabilities to threats varying from health emergencies and humanitarian disasters to conflict and other risks such as Chemical, Biological and Nuclear threat.
Security is a prerequisite for stability and growth.
The last global issue I am going to address in this video is freedom. Human Rights protect our freedom. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
Human rights go back hundreds of years; they’re part of our history. But after the horrors of the Second World War, people worldwide were determined that those atrocities would never happen again. Since then, human rights have been protected by law around the world. Today these rights help protect our private and family life and allow us to enjoy a free press.
They give us the right to form partnerships with and love whoever we want to. The right to demonstrate peacefully and free speech. We have the right to education, the right to a fair trial, the right to vote in free and fair elections, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and ultimately the right to life. Human rights are the fabric of our society; they protect our way of life. They guarantee our freedom and allow us to progress through our lives with fairness and dignity.
Topics you can delve deeper into include; Human trafficking, the refugee crisis, worker rights, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights and abortion.
And that concludes my quick introduction to these seven global issues. These topics and complex, and it is a lot to cover in one video. To make life easier I have created blog posts about every single topic. I’ve added a world list with specific lingo you need to understand regarding each topic. I’ve added additional videos and articles you can investigate. I have included topic heroes that act as champions for specific causes. I highlighted artists that address that specific topic in their artworks.
Each blog post contains one of these Global Issues and concludes with possible solutions for each problem. These posts are organic and will grow and expand as you; the fans share insights and comments with us, so check back often to see the latest updates. The links to all these blog posts are in the description down below.
In our next video, I will show you how to take the selected topic and develop it in your visual diary, ultimately leading to a body of original artworks. Have you found a topic and Global Issue you feel passionate about? Let me know in the comments down below.
Pop into our Teacher’s pay teachers store to buy our worksheets. We have various worksheets to help you develop your visual diary.
I am artist Lillian Gray; I hope you enjoyed this video. Please give us a like and subscribe so that my channel can keep on producing valuable art videos. Until next time.