FIVE IDEAS THAT COULD
FIX THE WORLD
1. - END POVERTY AS WE KNOW IT.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and author of The End of Poverety.
Our generation can end extreme poverty on the planet simply by following through on our promises. The United States (and other high-income countries) has pledged repeatedly to give aid to the poorest countries in the amount of 70 cents for every $100 of our national income. This is known as the “0.7 percent commitment.” Right now the United States gives only 15 cents per $100, less than one-fourth of what we’ve promised. With the promised amount of aid, the poorest countries could afford immunizations, anti-malaria bed nets, fertilizers, irrigation pumps, school meals, rural roads and electricity, and other resources to escape from their poverty, disease, and hunger. As a result, the deaths of millions of children every year would be averted. Farmers in Africa would grow twice as much food per acre, reducing hunger. The amount of violence would also fall sharply, since recent conflicts in Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, and elsewhere have been fueled by desperation and hunger. All this can be accomplished for just 70 cents out of every $100 of our income, surely the greatest bargain on the planet.
2. - CREATE A CRADLE-TO-CRADLE WORLD.
William McDonough, product, building, and regional designer and winner of the National Environmental Design Award (2004), a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), and the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996)
Waste and pollution are signals of design failure. We can end the cradle-to-grave flow of materials from factory to landfill and the environmentally costly burning of fossil fuels by designing cradle-to-cradle products and renewable energy systems. Cradle-to-cradle materials are nutrients for nature and industry. What we call technical nutrients—like the perpetually recyclable plastic pages of a book I coauthored. like the high-tech metals and polymers used in some cars and computers—are so designed to be recovered and reused by industry forever, not just reducing waste but eliminating the very concept of waste. Biological nutrients, such as biodegradable fabrics with environmentally safe colors and finishes, are designed to be safely returned to the earth, restoring the soils of our farms and forests . In a cradle-to- cradle world, the clean production of materials will be cost-effectively powered by the renewable energy of the sun and wind. We can make these changes in every industry, in every sector of our economy. And we can start today.
3. - JUMP-START A “ROUGH GUIDE” TO SCIENCE.
Paul Nurse, professor at the Rockefeller University and co-winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiologe or Medicine.
Modern biology has spurred the development of a vast array of high-powered— albeit costly— tools. We need a “rough guide” to enable researchers in developing countries to create simple laboratories. For example, centrifuges can be fashioned from old blenders, which are cheaper and more accessible than expensive scientific machinery . For less than 1 percent of current U.S. research funds, the United States could rumble to life a rough guide—a manual that outlines tools and methods used in biology labs at prestigious universities. Scientists would describe their efforts and discoveries as well as the methods of doing science if you don’t have the latest equipment. This would have a huge impact by helping disadvan-taged populations not to rely on us but to help themselves.
4. - GETTING SMART ON CRIME.
Dennis W. Archer, former mayor of Detroit and Chairman of Dickinson Wright PLLC
After spending billions of dollars locking up more people for a broader range of crimes and longer periods of time than ever before, it’s time to look at what happens after sentencing. Roughly 95 percent of the nearly 2.1 million Americans in prison today will eventually get out. If we invest resources while they are incarcerated to help them prepare to reenter society, we make our communities safer by reducing the chance tnat ex-prisoners will return to a life of crime. These issues are most acute for people of color, who constitute 32 percent of the general population but more than 60 percent of the people behind bars in America. We cannot ignore this disparity . The need for reform is clear. We’ve spent more than 20 years getting tougher on crime. Now we need to get smarter.
5. - HONOR THE CHILDREN.
BARBARA BOXER, U. S. Senator from California.
Nobody can argue with the premise that spreading democracy will make the world a better place, and to achieve that goal we must make America a role model. But we are falling short. It’s hard to be a role model when 9.1 million children in America have no health insurance; 400,000 have levels of toxins in their blood high enough to impair their thinking; one in ten children has a serious mental illness but only one in five receives help; 2.800 children and teens die from gunfire yearly; and child-care. after-school care, and immunizations fall short. Let’s put in place a new ethic. Let’s honor our children, not with empty words but with real commitment. And let’s make children the focus of our foreign policy since far too many worldwide are suffering.
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