Recently I read the Dan Brown book, Inferno. Now, while I don’t think that sterilisation of a third of the world’s population is the answer to the world’s problems, it did get me thinking about the real problems that we face.
The graph of population explosion that he uses in his book is one that I have used in many of my talks on entrepreneurship in order to demonstrate the speed of change within the world today. Having taken until the year 1804 to get to 1billion inhabitants on the planet, it has taken us only 210 more years to get to 7billion. By the time children that are born today finish university, another 2billion will be added to the planet.
Clearly such a population explosion creates a totally different dynamic that needs to be addressed in a totally different way. In other words, we need an entrepreneurial approach to the world’s problems.
However, what we see is a world based not on globalisation but still dictated by vested interests be they at a country or company level. What we have are people in power in countries and companies that have been through a conveyor belt education system that removed all traces of entrepreneurial thinking from their brains.
These are people that gauge success by the number of degrees and the wealth that those degrees generate. They are politicians that want solutions that are acceptable to voters and businessmen that want solutions that appeal to shareholders. So rather than tackle the real population problem facing us with entrepreneurial solutions they continue to rearrange the seats on the Titanic.
Governments have long used the climate as the scapegoat for all of our problems as it is something that can be regulated by acceptable laws. Once the polar icecap was melting until boats started to get stuck in increasing thicknesses of ice. We used to talk about the ozone layer and that then delivered an attack on aerosols. Then it was global warming until that became climate change for some reason.
We talk about greenhouse gases and blame the motorcar. But still oil companies extract resources from under-developed countries in order to fuel societies with two and three-car families!
Fifty percent of much of the western world is obese while a large part of the under-developed world is starving. The West’s response is not an equitable sharing of food but a pop concert! In the absence of either hard choices or innovative solutions a credit card donation is seen as the quick fix to the conscience.
As the inequality across the globe becomes greater so the resentment between the haves and have-nots grows. Country is set against country, religion is set against religion and tribe is set against tribe.
How long will it be before people realise that their neighbour’s problem is also their problem. How long before people realise that the system developed for the industrial revolution is incapable of dealing with the problems that the same system created.
I have always had great belief in the young people of our planet, and I fervently believe that it is they who will solve the population crisis and not the politicians and business people with vested interests developed from the old system.
But to achieve innovative solutions from our young we need to educate them differently so that creativity is encouraged and not destroyed. Those at the top are unlikely to do this, but the people with the biggest responsibility for a child’s upbringing are the parents that brought the child into this densely populated world.
It is a negation of duty for parents to say ‘what can I do?’ when faced with the problem. Remember the old question of how to eat an elephant; one bite at a time. Let every parent take his or her first bite at encouraging and valuing creativity in their children and watch how quickly those in power move to solutions that appeal to voters!