Challenge and Opportunity
At this point in the 13.7 billion year story of the universe, our young species, homo sapiens, more or less 200,000 years old, is facing an overwhelming array of complex, interlocking crises caused by massive and rapid population growth, industrialization and technological breakthroughs. Three of these crises have to do with the environment, economics and governance. The good news is that this matrix of crises presents humanity, you and me, with an opportunity, a doorway and a necessity to reinvent our societies from the bottom up and top down. We can create a world that works for everyone.
Three challenges, three opportunities:
- The degradation of the planet’s ecosystems is at a point whereby, if dramatic action is not taken in the next ten years, all life on Earth will be at risk from higher temperatures, rising sea levels flooding coastal settlements and covering many island nations, fierce super storms, loss of the rain forests and biodiversity, droughts and desertification and collapse of food supplies. This in turn would set off massive social and economic instability resulting in increased conflict between people for resources and secure existence. Local, national and global efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2020. We must create sustainable human development. We have the technology to do this. Do we have the will and the wherefore? What kind of leadership will make this possible?
- The meltdown of economic systems due to confusion about the relationship between finance and natural resources, unbridled greed and reliance on carbon producing, non-renewable energy sources is resulting in great suffering and destabilization especially for the poor. This of course is linked to the ecological crisis of global warming. New economic models are needed that are based in equality of opportunity, sustainability and justice for all. Industry must make a rapid, massive shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources of solar, wind, water, bio-mass and thermal. We can do this, but will we in time? What kind of leadership is needed to bring this about?
- The challenge to our systems of governance is inevitable due to the above two crises plus increased inequality, misunderstanding among cultures and religions and the entrenched control of vested interest of economic wealth and political and cultural power. Elections are essential but insufficient to ensure viable democracies. Representation must include direct participation of all citizens in the policy making process. Government, civil society and the private sector must all be accountable for collective decision-making and action. We can reinvent our governance systems. But will we do it? What kind of leadership will make this a reality?Who will help lead this effort? What style of leadership will ensure a future not only for our species but all of life? What is required of each of us?
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