Working to optimize human and planetary conditions

The Challenge

The Need for a Comprehensive Guideline for Solutions to the Global Problems of Humanity

(or, The Worldwide Optimization Project)

 Massive amounts of evidence point to the degradation of the Earth’s ability to sustain the current level of human ”civilization”; and clearly the quality of human experience is far from maximized in many undeveloped and developing countries (and in large disadvantaged pockets of developed nations as well).

A measure of where we are in the matter of sustainability was reported in Earthweek on 5/29/05:

“A United Nations environmental report says that Earth’s biodiversity is dwindling at a record rate, with about 90% of the planet’s fish stock already depleted since the introduction of industrial-scale fishing operations.  The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment says that a third of amphibians and a fifth of mammals are threatened with extinction because of the destruction of natural habitats.  Klaus Toepfer, director of the U.N. Environment Program responsible for the report, says the loss of biodiversity is “economic suicide”.  He added that if the dwindling forests and coral reefs were compared to museums and universities, “then their destruction would be regarded as massive vandalism”.”

Meanwhile, humanity has at its disposal the highest level of resource development ever, including nearly instantaneous communications and huge amounts of computing power, as well as the largest pool of human capital ever.  It is making incredible strides in specific disciplines of study, such as engineering, computer science, biotechnology, and the like.  The human genome study, for example, promises to allow unimagined medical cures and an extension of lifespan to be implemented.  New orbiting telescopes probe farther into the universe than ever.  There is even a project (SETI) which allows the incredible “spare time” computing power of home computers to be allocated to the analysis of radiation from outer space to try to determine if intelligent signals are present.  Computer models confirm the effect of human activity on global warming.

Even a computer needs an operating system, but the world of humanity has not yet developed a coherent operating system for itself.  Governments have largely done a terrible job of addressing worldwide (systemwide) concerns.  With the capability we have to analyze systems in such detail, it seems incredible that no large, well-publicized, comprehensive efforts to model the global, overall human situation are being conducted, so as to provide a basis for better charting our common course.  Of course, the complexity of humanity and the imprecision of social sciences would render the results of such a study crude of necessity; yet many trends are fairly clearly understood and many models have been developed concerning these trends; so instructive results could probably be attained.  Given our present circumstance of imminent depletion of our resources, an improved ability (to any degree) to better steer our so-called civilization seems imperative.  It is possible that a developed network of individuals and non-governmental organizations that may be less vulnerable to special interests by virtue of decentralization, could serve this purpose better than governments

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