"Our task is to look at the world and see it whole." -E.F. Schumacher
We live at a time of great challenge and great opportunity. These conditions call us to dream the way our ancestors did – with courage and full-hearted commitment. Without our dreams and the will to act, we cannot hope to overcome the conditions that threaten our continued survival on this planet.
The economic crisis has focused much of our attention on our own net worth. Of course, taking care of our own families is a responsibility of every Visionmaker.
But let's not lose sight of the larger world in which we live. We also have a responsibility to envision a world that is safe, environmentally sustainable, prosperous and free.
Visionmakers, consider this:
- By 2010, the global population is estimated to be 7 billion, double what it was in 1960
- 24,000 people die every day of starvation
- 2 million people a year die of tuberculosis and there are 8 million new active cases
- 1 in 5000 who die from physical violence every year are under five years of age
- 20,000 people died last year in disasters and 256,665 were affected
- In the last decade, 665,598 people died in drought, floods and windstorms
- 2.3 million people were killed by conflict between 1991 and 2000, 3/4 from nations of low human development
- Conflict killed three times the number killed in natural disasters
- 3 million people die of air pollution each year
- 21.8 million adults and 830,000 children are suffering with AIDS
- AIDS has created 12 million orphans
- 6 million people have been blinded by trachoma; there are 146 million active cases
- 2.2 million people, including 1.8 million children died from diarrhoeal diseases in 1988, contamination of food and drinking water the leading cause
- An estimated 500 million small arms and light weapons are in circulation
- 500,000 people are killed by small arms every year
- 300,000 are killed in armed conflict; 200,000 in shootings unrelated to armed conflict
- 300,000 children are being used as soldiers
- United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are all nuclear powers; Israel, Libya, and Iran and are suspected of having nuclear capability and perhaps nuclear weapons
- Estimates place active nuclear warheads at 19,000 with approximately 17,500 held in reserve
- In 1998, there was approximately $35,100,000,000 spent on all U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs
- To date, there are seven cases of nuclear component smuggling from Russia that have been detected; no-one knows how many have gone undetected
- The U.S. Department of Energy determined that 2 1/2 tons of highly radioactive plutonium used in making nuclear weapons was missing from its supplies in 1999
- There are allegations that the Russian government is unable to account for 80 “suitcase nukes,” small atomic demolition munitions ( ADMs)
- Accidentally, the United States has lost and never recovered 11 nuclear bombs
- One percent of the global economy and 200 million people rely on sea fishing yet 77% of polluting substances that threaten the marine environment comes from human land-based sources; the majority of the remainder comes from shipping and sea dumping
- Shipping contributes an estimated 568,000 tons of oil annually to marine pollution
These are just some of the troubling statistics that are available on the state of the world. There is ample material here to challenge several generations to creatively solve problems.
This is another reason why it is urgent that we return to the Cycle of Visionmaking as a disciplined practice of leadership. It is our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.
© Patrick O’Neill 2009. All rights reserved.