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What Causes Deserve More Attention Than The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Over the summer the ALS ice bucket challenge has raised over $20 million dollars after going viral on social media, and while raising money for ALS is a noble cause, there are plenty of other causes that affect millions more people that deserve more attention and funding.  As the Atlanta BlackStar recently pointed out, ALS is an awful disease and affects some 200,000 people nationwide.  However, it is classified as a rare disease under the Rare Disease Act of 2002, and the ALS Foundation has admitted that less than 27 percent of donations actually directly fund research and cures related to the disease.  Here are five causes that impact more people and use money in a way that betters the lives of people more directly:

1.) Diseases Devastating the Developing World

Donating money to charities that focus on diseases that affect the developing world is a way to increase the impact of the investment made by donating to a charity.  William MacAskill, the founder of 80,000 Hours, points out that, “donating money to the best developing-world health charities will reach at least 100 times as many people than if you donate to developed-world health causes.”  MacAskill goes on to point out that it takes $56,000 to provide “one quality-adjusted life year to a “ALS sufferer.  However that “same amount of money could provide 500 quality-adjusted life years, if you give money to bed nets for malaria.”  MacAskill is not saying that ALS sufferers do not deserve the help of those willing to donate to research and cures; he simply states that, “wanting to respect and honor a particular tragedy is different from trying to help as many people as you can.”

2.) Poverty

Despite the World Bank president predicting in 1973 that poverty would be eradicated in the 20th century, it has not happened, and the goal has been revamped to 2030.  Philosopher Thomas Pogge points out that poverty is “completely avoidable,” and is a “massive crime against humanity,” caused by Western democracies propagating political and economic systems that harm the world’s most vulnerable populations.  The Atlanta BlackStar points out that the ALS Association estimates that around 30,000 people are affected by ALS at any given time, but some 22,000 children die every day due to poverty.  These children deserve just as much attention as ALS sufferers, but no one has launched a viral social media campaign to save them from something that is completely preventable.

3.) Global Water Crisis

The impact of water problems affects half of all humanity with 1.1 billion people having inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion people not having basic sanitation.  That equates to 2 out of every 3 people not having access to clean water.  This makes the many gallons of water wasted during the ice bucket challenge seem like an unnecessary and even cruel waste of a vital resource.  As Jim Gulliford, the executive director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, points out, “Fresh water is one of our nation’s most precious resources.  It is a resource that should never be undervalued or wasted.”  The Washington Post estimates that 5 million gallons of water have been wasted during the ice bucket challenge.

4,) War Against Black Males

The Atlanta BlackStar states, “There’s a war going on outside and no Black man is safe from the institutional, systematic or blatant racism committed against them.  Black men are more likely to be racially profiled, stopped, frisked, arrested, prosecuted and jailed more than any other demographic in the U.S.”  There are currently more black people in jail that what were in jail during the height of South African apartheid, and a black person is killed by police every 28 hours.  The United Nations even recently issued a report on the state of race issues in America.  While the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri around the death of Michael Brown have sparked a national conversation, “the public will not tag three friends and family members on social media to challenge them to acknowledge the millions of lives lost to this war, particularly by police-sanctioned murder.”

5.) Destruction of the Environment

While politically motivated factions argue about whether or not climate change is real, America is dumping 16 tons of sewage into American waters every minute and 110 million Americans are forced to live in places with levels of air pollution that are harmful to their health.  Globally, 80 percent of the world’s original forests have been destroyed and 100 species of animals die every day.  Worldwatch Institute points out, “We are in the midst of a mass extinction, an event not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.”  As the Atlanta BlackStar points out, “What a qaundary it would be if after all the awareness and money raised to support ALS research, scientists discovered that our polluted environment is the cause of the disease, or worse, that the ALS cure was destroyed by deforestation.”

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