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No cure for a sick world?
by Peter
19 August 2002 21:42 UTC
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Dear WSN,
We have prepared the following article to challenge the Johannesburg 
Summit with the question:  how do we provide a decent living standard 
for all and protect the environment for future generations?
(originally posed by Buckminster Fuller, at the World Game simulations.)
Please feel free to share this with your own personal lists.
Peter Meisen

No cure for a sick world?

by Peter Meisen, President, Global Energy Network Institute (GENI).
August 16, 2002

Ten years ago, the largest-ever gathering of world leaders met in Rio de
Janeiro for the Earth Summit. They pledged to take better care of our
planet; reducing pollution, protecting biodiversity and saving
rainforests. Now the United Nations is convening the Johannesburg Summit
on Sustainable Development to assess our collective progress. In almost
every category, any objective reporter would give us a failing grade. A
headline virtually screamed, "World leaders say Earth is sick, but fail
to agree on a cure."

Since 1992, world population has grown by a billion people. Atmospheric
pollution, especially greenhouse gases have climbed to all-time highs.
The gap between rich and poor countries has widened. The onslaught
continues against forests for their fuel and hardwoods. UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan summarized a recent UN Development Program's annual
report saying that "100 nations are worse off today than 15 years ago,
with 1.3 billion people earning less than $1 per day."

For the 2002 Johannesburg Summit, the UN has just released "Global
Challenge, Global Opportunity" which highlights the urgent need to
address many damaging trends. If the projections prevail, nearly half of
the world's people will suffer from water shortages within 25 years.
Human expansion is causing unprecedented loss of biodiversity and arable
land. Nitin Desai, the Summit Secretary-General declared, "We have to
change from the present model of development to sustainable development
or else risk further jeopardizing human security everywhere."

The 3 kilometer thick brown haze that covers South Asia is the result of
fossil fuel burning in the region. Respiratory ailments affect millions,
especially children and seniors. Still, the World Energy Council
projects a doubling of primary energy demand by 2025! Five years ago,
policy-makers framed the Kyoto Protocol to set carbon reduction targets
and deadlines.

Who are we trying to fool? Our leaders convene with good intentions,
make terrific speeches and go home to struggling economies and domestic
social demands. The ancient proverb states the condition best: "Unless
we change the direction we're going, we're likely to end up where we are

Maybe we're asking the wrong initial questions! Of course it's natural
to put out fires when you see them. But are we attacking the cause of
these problems, or just putting band-aids on one global wound after another?

We suggest a different approach -- one that was developed 30 years ago
by the visionary engineer, Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller. "Bucky" was called
the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century, and posed the following
global question:

"How do we make the world work for 100% of humanity
in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation
without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?"

In other words: how do we provide a decent living standard for all
people and protect our environment for the long term? Isn't that a
better place to begin? Designing the systems to meet the needs of all
people, while protecting the environment for future generations is a
superior approach. Fuller's World Game simulation uses comprehensive
anticipatory design science -- assessing all issues and needs,
anticipating future trends -- then engineering solutions that make many
of today's global issues obsolete.

  From this global question emerged a premier strategy for peace and
sustainable development. Simply stated, the number one goal is to
provide "clean" electricity for all. The strategy is to link
electrically the renewable energy resources around the world. Or in
today's terms, a world wide web of electricity, tapping renewable energy

Unknown to most people, half of this energy network is already in place
around the world. High voltage transmission provides the freeway for
electrons that delivers the energy to run our homes and businesses. Yet
1/3 of humanity has no electricity for even the most basic needs: clean
water, lighting, refrigeration of food and medicines. Two billion people
still burn wood and cow dung to meet daily energy requirements. The
global climate problem is rooted in the fact that 80% of energy
production comes from non-renewable energy sources: gas, oil, coal or
nuclear, which produce increasing levels of pollution or toxic waste.

Yet our planet is blessed with abundant renewable potential from wind,
hydro, solar, geothermal, tidal and biomass. Geographically, these
resources are often located in remote regions, even neighboring
countries, far from our cities and industry. Power grids provide the
access. With cost effective power transmission now reaching thousands of
kilometers, these renewable energy sources can begin to replace some of
the aging fossil and nuclear plants, as well as power the economic
development of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Such a visionary plan may seem fated to future generations. Yet, the
last ten years have seen international connections between the most
unlikely neighbors: East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin
Wall, Israel and Jordan from the Washington Declaration treaty, and more
recently, cross-border grids are being built between Turkey and Iran,
Argentina and Chile, Spain and Morocco. Daily demand fluctuations are
leveled with east-to-west interconnections, and north-south linkages
level seasonal variations. The buying and selling of electricity allows
for expanded markets, provides stability and reliability to the network,
and offers multiple benefits to system operators. This international
infrastructure development fosters trade, cooperation and peace.

Three decades ago, the United Nations Natural Resources Council and
numerous experts advocated this development strategy. At that time, Cold
War politics stymied any real progress. Now the enemy has become
pollution, overpopulation, poverty and nuclear proliferation. To put out
these fires we've held the Earth Summit in Rio, the Population Summit in
Cairo, the Social Summit in Copenhagen, the Women's Summit In Beijing
and the Cities Summit in Istanbul. Yet the problems persist and escalate
every year. It's time for a new approach.

Attacking these issues as separate problems ignores the nature of our
interconnected society. It's time to ask the bigger question: how do we
make it work for all humanity and the environment? The solutions are
guaranteed to offer a better cure than the recent global prognosis.


Peter Meisen is President of the Global Energy Network Institute (GENI),
a non-profit organization conducting research and education into the
interconnection of renewable energy resources around the world. GENI is
located in the World Trade Center of San Diego, CA.
Contact: 619-595-0139 peter@geni.org www.geni.org

The Global Energy Network Institute focuses on the interconnection of
electric power networks between nations and continents, with an emphasis on
tapping abundant renewable energy resources.  This strategy is the highest
priority of the World Game simulation developed by Dr. Buckminster Fuller
three decades ago.
TEL: 619-595-0139   petermeisen@cs.com http://www.geni.org

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