Friday, December 14, 2012

10-step program for a sick planet

By Hardy F. Schloer, Owner, Schloer Consulting Group - SCG, Advisory Board of the Club of Amsterdam

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen Let me first say that it is an honor to speak here to you on the 10th anniversary of the Club of Amsterdam. Creating an unrestricted and free thinking environment that is strictly focused on envisioning the future, whatever such future may be, was the concept of Felix Bopp. It has produced in the past 10 years much original thought and free expression about our feelings, ideas and definitions of preferred futures. We may not always agree with each other, but that was never the intent. Prolific discourse was!

I’d like to thank Felix at this point to provide us with this forum that is, to this day, free from any dogmatic guidance and political or corporate persuasion to brainstorm about these preferred futures. Anyone is allowed to speak and to present his or her views; even I.

My article in the Club of Amsterdam Journal carries the title “One Minute before 12.”

Actually, it is only about 10:55pm, and the date is April 10, 1912.

We are in the northern part of the Atlantic, in route to New York.
We are on board of one of the most beautiful ships ever built!It’s 1912, and global warming has not happen yet. The sea is full of beautiful and scenic icebergs, even in the middle of April; and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

We are on the safest cruise liner ever built; the beautiful and majestic Titanic!

Nevertheless, there is a tiny fly in the ointment: we just struck one of these picturesque icebergs at about 10:40, - about 15 minutes ago.
Some people come up from the engine room, and they look like they just ate a bad piece of fish!! … they talk about a bad breach into the lower part of the Titanic, caused by the floating iceberg that we have just passed. To me, this sounds just like the typical stuff coming from these blue collar workers on the lower decks … they try to scare the people… it’s always the same! What would they know anyway?

Sure enough! Soon the first worried discussions are on the way:
“Is the Titanic really as safe and unsinkable as we have been told by the White Star Shipping line?”
“Did these White Star people really think of everything?”

It’s just the typical negative stuff that goes around; just because we bumped into a little snowball? ... What’s wrong with these people? I had dinner with the builders and designers of the Titanic last night; they told us we didn’t even need rescue boats! It’s a total waste of money! Unnecessary, stupid and totally outdated safety regulations! This nonsense is cutting seriously into the dividends of our shareholders! We should have maximized the profits by putting no safety boats at all, and put in more first class cabins instead ... Yield is important, not costly red tape! We need profits, not unnecessary and costly safety precautions!!

Everybody knows, the ship is unsinkable!

They should know!

These guys last night at the dinner table, they built this ship!

They are the experts!

The potential sinking of our boat is just a theory; just like global warming!
It’s not realistic!It’s always these fear mongers amongst us that try to scare us.
These experienced ship builders know what they are doing; they are not stupid.

They have always thought about the worse case scenarios, we can be sure, because they told us so!

Some of these paranoid disaster prophets think there is a systemic or even structural problem with the Titanic! Can you believe this?

I always tell you: Follow the Money!

Look at all these rich people on the boat! Would they be on board, if there were anything to worry about?
Probably not!
They do not make miscalculations with their lives ... As long as I see all these fine gentlemen on board, I know I am safe.
Well ... if all of this sounds familiar to you, then you’ve got the point!

Today, however, we are not talking about a sinking ship in the Atlantic.

This time we are talking about the future of the entire planet!

And it’s just like on the Titanic! There are too many people, and not enough resources to save them! And when bad planning forces a disaster; who gets saved first. It's the guys with the deep pockets!

And those that should manage the crisis, they are busy with rearranging the Titanic deck chairs and polish the ballroom silver – even after the understanding sets in, that the boat will sink.
We are doing the same things now. There are at least 20,000 to 30,000 very well-informed people on this planet, right in this moment, that know the severe global problems that are coming over the next 2 decades exactly, but it is easier to hide behind the polished indifference of academic language, then to come out, and tell point-blank what’s in store for the world.

Yesterday I read a scientist’s assessment of rising ocean levels and how they are putting countries like Naru at risk to disappear. Why at risk? Why not tell them what the date of expiration is? It's probably around 2035. Let's come out and tell them that they need to move, because this is the correct and honest answer.

I like these modern “Optimists!” I like to call them “Ignorists”:

  • Global warming is just a myth; it’s just a theory; no hard facts..
  • People will always find, automatically, a solution to any problem.
Here are some more slogans from the Top-10 list of total global ignorance
  • We can overcome anything with positive thinking.
  • Conflict in society is good and necessary for humanity to evolve.
  • Greed is good, greed is right; it’s the very spirit of evolution.
Or this one, which I read yesterday:
  • Global problems? What problems? We’ve only got to solve the ‘fear of the future’, and not problems….
Well, for all of those who did not get it yet what will happen globally between now and 2030, I suggest they look at the vital data and trends much more carefully.

Look at these trends in its full context!

Look at all elements of the global information and how these elements affect each other.
Do your homework first, and then participate in the discussion.

Don’t start out with an opinion, and get the fact later! Get the facts first!

For example:

Look for exponential change in vital data!
Look at the fast dynamics and how they change over recorded time periods.
Look at all contextual consequences.
Build an all-inclusive master model!
Look carefully at vital areas like Energy, Food, Water, Natural Resources, Pollution, Environment, Economics, the financial and the monetary system, and last but not least, at the increasing willingness to engage in global conflict.
And look at all of this information within the frame of an interconnected model!

The fact is: The exponential changes in these 10 fields point to a world of challenges previously unknown.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are entering new territory here!

Tonight however I do not want to talk much more about our potentially problematic global future.
I’ve written much about this, and much has been circulated by others on these subjects. I’d just like to refer you to the last issue of the Club of Amsterdam Journal from November 2012, where I published an extensive article about our global crisis between now and 2030.

For those who like to familiarize themselves with the relevant research and forecasts, I also
recommend to request a copy of our ‘Global Trend Report 2012’, to look at the data and the conclusions we draw from such data in more detail.

Our latest report will be released by December 18; just in time to provide you with some interesting Christmas literature. However, if your nerves are weak, I recommend you read Charles Dickens instead. It may be much more comforting for the holidays.

Tonight I would like to focus now, on what we must do to change the course of these negative trends, and create a truly sustainable and lasting future for our planet.
I’d like to focus on the potential solutions, and on a way forward, to get out of the global problems we are in.

I have summarized them in 10 vital modifications we must undertake, to change our planet into something that some people would often call a UTOPIA.

But just remember that UTOPIA is always the next step of desired or necessary advancement, which we have not yet achieved.

Let’s look at these 10 recommendations one by one.
Each of them can be implemented today! We can argue on how the implementation of these recommendations should look like, but they are in any case a good starting point for discussion:
  1. We must recognize, that the era of self-righteous decision-making by Kings and Presidents is over. The world has become too complex. Human intelligence is no longer adequate to govern or manage countries, or to solve the global challenges of the future. We need extensive real-time and parallel data and machine intelligence instead, to make intelligent and sustainable decisions for the future! We as a society must begin to elect super computer programs, instead of political leaders, to manage this complex and fragile world.
  2. The age of democracy must evolve into an age of consensus. Democracy is no longer adequate. Democracy is badly implemented and, when under pressure, produces dangerous polarization instead of peaceful solutions, and then collapses. We must move on to models of inclusive consensus, where all of us participate, and where decisions are made that are backed by a overwhelming majority of all participants!
  3. We must plan exploitation and consumption of global resources in a global and cooperative context model. This begins by viewing our society as a single global society first, and not as many competing or even hostile regional societies. We need to share these resources in a sustainable way and with long-term perspectives, to respect the need of future generations as well.
  4. We must develop a global and cooperative energy production model based on ZERO-pollution or other negative environmental effects. These energy models must be sustainable for future generations. Today’s mineral oil reserves must also serve the petrochemical needs of generations to come.
  5. We need to learn to look at all citizens of this globalized world as partners, not as exploitable resources! All humans must be equal everywhere, have true equal rights, not just legally or ethically, but also economically. People must be rewarded for labor and commercial contribution equally everywhere. This will also solve all of the so-called immigration problems!
  6. We need one single global currency, to eradicate the effects of predatory speculative trading practices. The multi-currency system has produced detrimental conditions amongst many nations, especially those that are rich in resources, but less developed otherwise.
  7. We must urgently eradicate conflict among societies, and begin to promote a model of tolerant and respectful coexistence. I know this sounds truly utopian, but it all begins with proper education. If we invest in education on how we can get along with each other about 50% of the money that we currently invest in weapons, then this problem will be solved. Conflict must end! We cant afford it any longer!
  8. We must properly manage the population/consumption/pollution matrix. We must go on the assumption that all citizens on this planet want to live eventually with more or less the same level of development, technological comfort, and consumption habits. This requires that these 3 dimensions be brought into a sustainable equilibrium. This is a big task for forward-thinking problem solvers and data crunchers such as IBM’s scientists and latest breed of supercomputers. I encourage their management and also Universities such as MIT or the University of Shanghai to participate extensively on the solutions to this particular problem in a collaborative and global thinking approach.
  9. Solve global problems globally. Healthcare, drug addictions, security, energy production, waste management or food production are all global issues, and they require global thinking and global collaborative management. They require an interconnected, intelligent and consistent approach to the problems.
  10. Last, but not least, we don’t need or ever want a global government. This would be a nightmarish scenario. We need to maintain and preserve our cultures, our regional customs and communities, wherever possible. Nevertheless, there are some vital issues, such as mentioned in my last points, which must be managed and decided globally, because they have global implications. We must find a global collaborative and corruption-free decision-making model, where we arrive at implementable, binding and also enforceable decisions, which provide global long-term sustainability in a peaceful and dignified way, and for all societies on this planet.
These are at least the 10 points, where we need to start. Solving these issues will make the world a significantly nicer place.

We, as a global community, owe it to each other and to our future generations to solve these problems and to prepare for a society that can sustain itself well into the future.

Today, we must begin a new chapter in human development!

Today we must inspire everyone to become part of a decisive trend to change and fix the world’s problems.

Today we must begin a new renaissance of global life with global responsibility.

Today we must depart from conflict, dogmatic division and the virus of hypocrisy!

There is only one way forward!

We all know what that the proper road to the future is!

Let’s walk on this road together! - Today!

All of us, and as a fully collaborating, peaceful and responsible human society
It begins with us; - today; - right here in this room!

Thank you for your attention!