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How to Save the World for Just a Trillion Dollars

The Ten Biggest Problems We Can Actually Fix

By Rowan Hooper

If you had a trillion dollars and a year to spend it for the good of the world and the advancement of science, what would you do? It’s an unimaginably large sum, yet it’s only around 1 percent of world GDP—and about the valuation of Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. It’s a much smaller sum than the world found to bail out its banks in 2008 or deal with COVID-19.

But what could you achieve with $1 trillion?

You could solve the problem of the pandemic, for one, and eradicate malaria—and maybe cure all disease. You could end global poverty. You could settle on the moon and explore the solar system. You could build a massive particle collider to probe the nature of reality like never before. You could build quantum computers, develop artificial intelligence, or increase human life span. You could even create a new life-form.

Or how about transitioning the world to clean energy? Or preserving the rain forests, or saving all endangered species? Maybe you could refreeze the melting Arctic, launch a new sustainable agricultural revolution, and reverse climate change?

How to Spend a Trillion Dollars is the ultimate thought experiment, but it is also a call to arms: These are all things we could do, if we put our minds to it—and our money.

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Rowan Hooper

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Review quotes
“Rowan Hooper shows that the world’s most intractable problems might not actually be intractable, if we just devoted the resources to solving them. How to Spend a Trillion Dollars is a fascinating, thought-provoking work.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction

Acclaim from the UK
“Will someone just give Rowan Hooper a mere trillion dollars and let him, very sensibly, save the world?”—Caitlin Moran

“In a world of doom-scrolling, trembling on the brink of causing a mass extinction event that will devastate civilization, it’s crucially important to point out that we already have the abilities needed not only to avoid catastrophe, but to thrive. That’s what Hooper does in fascinating and exciting detail.”—Kim Stanley Robinson

“At a moment when science is proving it can solve the most urgent of problems—given the right funding—Rowan Hooper asks a very interesting question. How much would it cost to solve all the world’s other problems? . . . Like any good game, this is deadly serious. What starts off seeming absurd ends up feeling obvious. Why would we not invest in our future? As Hooper says, ‘The world is full of extraordinary opportunities, and the vast majority are never undertaken.’”—James McConnachie, Sunday Times
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Publication date
March 29, 2022