As I prepare to give the keynote address at a conference of more than 4000 Eurasian leaders in the information and communications fields (ICT Summit Eurasia), and as I walk through this very ancient city, visiting sites that date back thousands of years, I’m struck by these 3 facts:
For the first time in human history:
1. we are all impacted by the same crises, including climate chaos, diminishing resources, increasing prices for food, fuel and other essentials, overpopulation, and species extinctions;
2. we are all communicating with each other through the internet and cell phones; and
3. we have created a global economy that is a terrible failure, where 5 % of us (living in the U.S) consume 30% of the resources, while nearly 50% of the world’s people are starving or close to starvation.
We must ask ourselves how we will reconcile these 3 facts. Will we be wise enough to see that 1 and 3 require that we use 2 to transform ourselves and our societies? In doing so, we can insure that our offspring will grow up in a world they will thank us for. Or will we stumble along our current path of denial? And create a world that no child will want to inherit.
The global economic crisis is a symptom and a messenger. It has exposed our darkest secrets. The most materialistic and wealthiest nation in the history of the world, the U.S., also has the highest rates of suicide, drug abuse, murder, incarcerations, and other negative social factors. Our economy is based on fighting wars – killing people and ravaging the planet – trading paper (mergers, derivatives, etc.), and selling each other things most of us don’t need. Meanwhile our planet is drowning in pollution, people are starving, our resources are dissipating, and our animals and plants are disappearing at shocking rates.
So, the question we must ask ourselves and those in charge of providing information and communications (like the ones I’m speaking to here in Istanbul – and I will ask them this) is: Will we continue to use our new-found ability to communicate with everyone on the planet to talk about fashion, sports, and the love lives of movie stars? Or will we use our networks to let our corporate and political leaders know that we insist on creating an economy driven by a commitment to providing every person with adequate food, shelter, and social services; cleaning up the polluted air, land, and water; developing more efficient forms of transportation; and drastically reducing energy consumption and redirecting its production to sustainable technologies?
The answers seem obvious, don’t they?