I flew up to Silicon Valley shopping for money for inclue! On the way I finished a very thoughtful book on real money and real issues.
How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, by Bjorn Lomberg is a great read and encapsulation of things I have been reading about for years now.
It is a summary of a brilliant project called the Copenhagen Consensus. Basically bring together some brilliant minds at the Nobel Laureate level and ask them to rank and rate the problems of our time and where we can get the biggest bang for the buck to help humanity.
The ROI or payback is fantastic on some of this stuff. 2 Billion people suffer from undernutrition as indicated by low birth rate and micro-nutrient failure. Iodized salt, Iron and Vitamin A can yield a 37:1 pay back. Micronutrients alone can increase the average IQ in some populations by 13 points. Other issues touched on in the book include free trade, business regulation, clean water, HIV, War and other problems.
The book is a marvel of clarity and simplicity in terms of language, brevity and summary. Many pieces in these areas are very scholarly and not digestible much less easily actionable. The emphasis on quantifiable payback and cost benefit analysis is great. The data is presented clearly and cogently. There are enough quantified data points, but no drowning the user in data. I would strongly recommend anyone who really considers themselves interested in "helping humanity" to read this book. It may just provide some pointers on where a dedicated life or focus can offer maximum impact.
inventing new sewage systems, reworking regulations and negotiating trade deals, doesn't sound sexy, but it saves lives and makes the human experience better. For now 1/3 rd of us live on less than $2 a day, 1/3rd of us will get severe Diarrhea this year and 1/3 of are not literate. There is a huge scope for improving what it means to be human. The costs to improve things aren't that great, but the will must be.