Sunday, August 16, 2009

The State Of The Future

Our planet, our civilization, our future, and the future of all living things on this planet, face many growing problems that if we choose to ignore because of political inexpediency, or lack of foresight and courage, we place ourselves in great peril. At no other time in recorded history has the risk been so great, and the penalty for non-action so unforgiving.
Probably the best known of the many issues and challenges that face us as a species is that of global warming. It certainly has received its fair share of media attention, and the debate of whether global warming exists, whether it a man made phenomenon, and what actions need to be taken to minimize global warmings detrimental effects (like extinction of the American Pika), has been going on for decades.
I've discussed this issue before (see, Global Warming), and will now quote myself from that post: "Most of the current credible scientific opinion overwhelmingly agrees that global warming has been taking place over the last two hundred years. A recent survey by the University of Illinois at Chicago polled 3,146 earth scientists and 90% agreed that warming is taking place, and 82% agreed that human activity is a major contributor to this warming effect."
Still there are business factions, and their political allies who would do nothing about this vast, global problem. Their goals are short-sighted and irresponsible, grossly so. Due to the large amount of financial resources available to these factions, and the political influence that money can buy in our current system, the debate continues, and a large percentage of an uninformed populace are told to believe what these business interests want them to believe, and thus exert unfounded political and social pressure.
So there is a debate when there should be none. Even if global warming is a completely natural process, we would still need to deal with its various effects, such as rising ocean levels, crop failures, increased disease and pestilence, on and on. Our recent history indicates that our country is hesitant to act to alleviate these circumstances and the problem as a whole.
Global warming is one problem, one issue that faces us. There are others.
The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) was founded in Luxemburg in 1946. The United States is a member.
The objectives of the WFUNA are:
To be a peoples' movement for the United Nations.
To coordinate and further the activities of its Members and to promote the establishment of new United Nations Associations.
To cooperate, where appropriate, with other organizations whose objects include the support of the United Nations and its development.
To promote tolerance, understanding, solidarity and cooperation among men, women and children throughout the world without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion or political orientation.
To contribute to the removal of obstacles to peace, to work for justice, security and disarmament, and to promote the development of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among nations.
To strive for the recognition of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world and for the recognition of the responsibilities and duties which those rights involve for individuals, groups, and States.
To promote economic development, enhancement of social progress and better standards of life.
To promote research, information and education about the goals of the Charter of the United Nations and the work of the United Nations system.
One activity of WFUNA has been the Millennium Project, which is a think tank, and now exists in 32 countries, which consist of independent organizations and individuals from different institutions, such as government, corporations, non-government organizations, which cooperate with each other, and the Project, to provide a global perspective to the problems we face today as a species.
The Project publishes an annual "State of the Future," report, now in its thirteenth edition, containing close to 100 printed pages, and over 6,700 CD pages of research and analysis.
This report identifies 15 "Global Challenges," that have been tracked since 1997, which are updated annually, and are deemed to be vital concerns that humanity as whole now faces, and will continue to face in the predictable future. The descriptions of each challenge include a review of the current state of affairs, approaches to address the challenge, and regional perspectives. The 15 global challenges are as follows:
1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all?
2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
8. How can the threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
9. How can the capacity to decide be improved as the nature of work and institutions change?
10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?
Over the upcoming weeks we will explore each of these challenges individually, but then what?
It is not enough to identify a problem, or to research and analyze it. Action must be a result. There will always be factions that will resist action and attempt to maintain the status quo.
It is time for humanity to grow up, become pragmatic, and deal with the problems it faces, which are largely due to its own activities. To do otherwise is to provide a worried and uncertain existence for our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.  

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