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Monday, March 24, 2008

Can we save our troubled planet?

Sun, 16 Mar 2008 16:32:24
By Patricia Khashayar, MD., Press TV, Tehran
Dr David Hill is the chief executive officer of the UK-based World Innovation Foundation (the WIF) and the World Innovation Foundation Charity (the WIFC) that is based in Bern, Switzerland.

He holds degrees in construction engineering, business administration and technological investment together with professional chartered and corporate qualifications in building.

He has studied at the Universities of Leeds, Huddersfield, Bradford and The Open Business School (The Open University).

Hill has received a DSc(Hon) higher doctorate from the academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

Q. As the executive director of "World Innovation Foundation", can you tell us more about the foundation and its goals?

A. In 1992 after several years of research with other engineers and scientists the Institute of National Economic Enrichment and Development (The INEED) was formed, the pre-runner of the WIF.

This group of scientists and engineers addressed the future economic development problems that the United Kingdom would face. It was therefore a nationalistic research body only interested in the United Kingdom.

But in 1996 things changed when the great American scientist Nobel Laureate Dr. Glenn Theodore Seaborg (honored with Element 106 Seaborgium on the Periodic Table) joined the INEED and fundamentally changed its direction to become a globally focused group of advisers. Thereafter in 1997, The WIF was created to indicate this distinct change in emphasis from nationalistic values to global values.

During these years the WIF undertook 'independent' and highly confidential reports for several countries.

The WIF is an outwardly looking global institution now comprising of around 3,500 of the world's leading-edge 'independent' scientists, engineers, technologists and economists. They are generally regarded as the 'Peers' of their respective professions and sciences; most are listed in the ISI rankings of the foremost scientists in the world today.

The WIF endeavors to provide unbiased advice to governments so that their people can be enriched in both social and economic terms. This is completely different to all other institutions around the world as our work is not singular nationalistic in nature, but plural in its thinking for all nations.

Our advisory work covers all the sciences, technology, management and economics and where through 'independence' of our consultations, provide unbiased assessments for governments to act upon.

In late 2005 the WIF became a registered Swiss charity and where the reason why Switzerland was chosen was due to its 'independent' neutrality status in the world at large - not a part of the European Union or the USA et al.

The charity was established to undertake physical humanitarian projects in the field so that the WIF's eminent knowledge base could be put to good use and address highly needed work around the globe; assisting developing nations with expertise and projects; to help build their economies and hopefully to reduce the influence of wars that poverty and the lack of a basic life worth living brings.

Q. What are the changes you see yourself making?

A. The WIF brings a new dimension to the field of international help. We believe at the WIF that we can make a major difference in how the world evolves through cooperation, communication and collaboration of all nations. Indeed our strategy to bring together nations is a fundamental goal of the WIF.

Therefore the WIF mechanism is a holistic process that thinks of the world at one entity and not a disparate number of nations fighting for their corner all of the time - a recipe we feel for constant unrest and conflict around the world.

Our greatest problem is convincing politicians to adopt and adapt to this holistic approach to the development of the future world. For if they do not in this century, we certainly run the high risk to humankind disappearing forever off the face of our planet.

In this respect, the writing is now on the wall for all to see (if they will look with intelligence), as the unfolding world state constantly exposes itself downwardly towards an existence that we shall not recognize eventually.

Q. How is it that you became interested in this field?

A. My late father was a great influence on my thinking. He had gone through one of the most horrendous wars ever, the Second World War, and where he was a medic/stretcher bearer working at the front lines from the D-Day landings to the liberation of Europe from the tyranny of the Nazi regime.

Indeed, he was such a humanitarian that he risked his life for others constantly on the battlefields of Europe and where he was cited for the Victoria Cross but awarded the Military Medal with Oak Leaf (now the Military Cross) for there were not enough witnesses to corroborate what he had done.

Sacrificing his own personal injuries (he was wounded three times whilst rescuing dying soldiers and where the Nazi war machine were bombarding the allied liberating troops 24 hours a day without relent. Many of his comrades literally blown apart at his side.

Therefore my thinking through my late father has always been of helping others and where I too have sacrificed many things over the years, just like my father did in his life. The development of the WIF has been the eventual outcome of this humanitarian thinking.

Q. How did start this project? Tell us about the obstacles you were faced with and your achievements?

A. I have mentioned already the INEED, the pre-runner to the WIF. But prior to this innovative creation, there was five-years of post-university research that dealt with human success in terms of both social and economic development. In this respect, technology was at the very heart of all new wealth creation and where for any nation including the USA, they had to provide the new technologies year-on-year to expand the human experience for their people.

In some ways, this was viewed as negative as well as a good thing. Therefore, after this research was concluded, several 'independent' contributors, which included engineers, scientists and business people suggested that we start an informal group of like-minded people to develop the concepts and basic ideas formulated at that stage.

Thereafter the INEED was formed and where there were initially only eight members including myself. This group funded itself internally as a primary consideration was that we had to keep and secure our full 'independence of thinking' at all times. If not, we would not be able in many ways to tell it as it was due to possible commercial interests of any external funders. This premise has stayed with the WIF even today, where we still fund ourselves internally.

Initially this total 'independence' made it extremely hard for a fledgling organization to start, as with all other like new entities, but as one year passed another and more people joined our group, these people started to open doors. Predominantly people who were or had been as an example, presidents of international academies and who were in some cases, advisors to prime ministers. Consequently, the INEED started undertaking 'independent' and unbiased reports on aspects that a particular government required.

The determination of the good that these reports achieve cannot be judged, as the INEED's reports are not mandatory for implementation, but only to give unbiased advice to nations and where they can accept the findings or not. The only thing is that enlightened governments see the value and strength of WIF consultation reports and that has to be a good thing for the world-at-large.

Q. What are humankind's main problems in the twenty-first century?

A. The main problem for humankind in this present century are immense, the greatest that they have ever had to address. Indeed, if we do not get our act together as a species, we run the very high risk of our extinction. I say this with a heavy heart, but where the present economic development system is inherently flawed greatly in that we are all grasping for the world's finite resources that one-day will run out.

We are only now starting to appreciate that we have to have a sustainable mechanism but where again I have sadly to say that there is still little evidence that the rhetoric by our politicians and global industrialists is turning into anything but a recipe for humankind's total demise.

In this respect as nations vie for the world's continually depleting resources; we are coming closer to eventual conflict through the lack of such resources. This therefore cannot be good for humankind in the long run.

Consequently, we have at some stage to start working for the whole planet and not just for nationalistic benefits to the demise of all others. The shareholder mentality has a great deal to answer here, as large companies have to increase wealth year-on-year.

But where if we had a more innovative approach to business and sustainability, the world would prevent many of the problems that are now on the horizon for humankind.

I do not have to go into great detail about what these are but give the following list,

1. Global Warming
2. Energy Security, Increasing Primary Energy Demand, Depleting Mineral Resources and Increasing global Pollution
3. International Terrorism and Fanaticism
4. Population Growth and its underlying consequences on Mother Earth
5. Famine and Food Security
6. Draught and acute water shortages to preserve life
7. Pandemics
8. Deforestation and Desertification
9. Increasing Natural Disasters brought about by 1 above
10. Increasing Environmental Disasters due to 1, 2, 4, 5 above

Q. What are the effects of the rapid population growth on our Planet?

A. The effects of a rapidly growing world population on human sustainability is critical. The United Nations has now revised its projections upwards for the number of humans six times in the last 15-years alone for those who would be living at mid-century.

Indeed, they now say that by 2050 the world's projected population will be around 9.5 billion (a 45% increase on today's numbers), but where it could be even more.

Unfortunately, I have to say that these projections by the UN are still low in my mind as there is no real internal rate of decline within the world's population growth.

What I mean by this is although the trend is a slight decline year-on-year, based on the increased numbers at the end of each year, if we look at the starting point and base, we have a constant increase rate.

Therefore, our projections are that by 2075, we shall have 12.5 billion humans at least and where the planet cannot sustain such numbers.

It is impossible and that is why in this century we run again the very high risk of not just a continuation of minor wars but also the greater constant risk of a fully blown global war where the larger and more powerful nations step into the fold to secure their economic and strategic interests.

Food will of course become a major issue and where this rush for agro produced fuels is a disaster as we reduce every year our capability to feed ourselves, especially now with the growing effects of global warming and decimated crops around the world.

Indeed, the thinking behind agro-petrols et al is totally flawed, as we would need at least five worlds I am told to provide food and petrol products in this way so that we can sustain ourselves. Therefore, a further recipe for disaster in the years ahead.

Q. Poverty, famine and inequality are the main problems in many countries….

A. You are right in that poverty, famine and inequality are three of the main problems in many countries and where these effects will unfortunately expand their reach in the world of tomorrow, for they will get far worse.

Unfortunately I have to say again, on the world's present course, mapped out by our politicians and global corporations (more so the latter here), that with an increasing population of 1.25% per annum just to stand still and where this is an increasing heavier burden on the donor nations, there is no way that the problem will decrease.

Indeed, increased failed crops and the consequential decrease in food harvests together with the rich getting richer by the year and the poor getting poorer by the year condemns this condition to become an absolute certainty.

These problems add to the condition that it is a future recipe for conflict and a world where great uncertainty rules human's lives.

Indeed a planet in constant chaos that will eventually on its present path, implode upon itself. But, this situation has not to be the case if nations would help each other to solve the world's problems together.

In this respect if our goal is sustainability as a species, we have to learn to share the planet's constantly dwindling resources in a managed way so that future generations can support themselves.

New technologies are the only real answer to many of humankind's problems, as only through the development of a new generation of sustainable technologies, will the world be able to provide for itself.

Electricity in this respect is vital, as it is the life-blood of all economies and where solar as an example, will have to be greatly introduced by all nations and especially developing ones in their rural areas if sustainability of life is to be achieved.

For without his life sustaining resource in place, humankind will not be able to feed, clothe or provide the necessary capability for all to exist. Therefore, the electrification of the world's rural areas is critical in proving for a sustainable world order without famine and disease.

Q. Climate change is one of the preoccupations of humankind in today's world. Can you tell us about its long-term effects on our life? How can we prevent its negative effects?

A. Climate Change will create a whole host of problems for the nations of the world during this present century. As it causes desertification and reduced landmass, people will consider living in even artic conditions and regions of the world that were never thought of in the centuries gone by.

Indeed, ice cities and where these are now on the drawing board for future eventualities and where this is not an over statement, as artic cities have already been mooted to provide for the people in future years.

As sea levels rise, this will also add to the fact as even more land will be lost to the oceans and where there just will not be enough economic land area to sustain human life in its present state. In some ways, if ever the Atlantic Conveyor stops, we will have no other alternative in the Northern hemisphere which encapsulates most of the develop nations of the world.

Prevention of climate change is in the hands of our politicians, global industrialists and the people themselves. Governments still have a predominantly nationalistic view and therefore will try and obtain as much wealth for themselves as they can at the general expense of all other nations and their people.

Therefore it is still a dog eat dog situation and I see no real change in this respect in the mindsets of our political leaders. Indeed, I see even more of this unsustainable way of developing the world emerging, as the world's finite resources continue to deplete at an alarming rate. But added to this as politicians are well connected with global industry also, I see no chance of any major movements away from the capitalist system, which is unrealistic and unsustainable in the long term.

Therefore, if politicians do not change their spots and industrialists do not stop catering to their shareholders, we have little hope of finding any solutions for global warming and all the harm that this will bring to humankind.

What governments should be doing is to invest heavily in new technological discoveries that address the world's huge problems in a holistic way. Industry should be doing likewise.

But unfortunately what we see happening is the opposite and where new discoveries that would help humankind, are being stifled by industry on the altar of quick profits that shareholders demand.

In this respect we know of many inventions that would help mankind that have been shelved in this respect, as the company's bottom-line is paramount and any new invention that threaten this base is eradicated.

So we have with the capitalist system, highly negative overtones that although they have not hurt humankind much to date (others will say differently), over the next fifty years they will and in a highly undesirable way.

Therefore, the people have to make governments and industry change all this. That is the only real way that we can prevent the catastrophes that will come as night follows day in the 21st century.

Q. Many years ago pox pandemics were the main cause of death. Later Ebola and SARS replaced Pox, and today bird flu is the cause of many problems.

A. Pandemics will eventually arise and where we have to be prepared for the worst. In 1918 'Spanish Flu' caused the deaths of at least 20 million people worldwide and where some modern estimates conclude that up to 100 million may have perished.

The problem this time is that with world travel being what it is today with on average 8 million people at least flying internationally every day of the year, a pandemic will spread like wildfire throughout the globe.

In this respect also we have no real defenses against such killer diseases as human-to-human 'bird flu', as Tamiflu et al is only a herbal remedy that does not cure but only alleviates the symptoms and no more.

Indeed, the Vietnamese doctors who have had to try and stem the bird flu outbreak in humans in their country have said that Tamiflu is 'useless' and saved none of their patients.

Unfortunately, when the pandemic comes, as the World Health Organization says that it is only a matter of time, we will have no cure. I say this as we have been trying for as long as I can remember to find a cure for the 'common cold' and where we have never found one.

Therefore is we cannot find a cure for this, in probably the whole history of pharmaceuticals, we have no chance of finding a cure for bird flu in say a few weeks when the outbreak eventually happens.

For in 1918 Spanish Flu did its worst in the first 25-weeks (and where the major transport around the world then was ships that took many weeks to cross the Atlantic alone).

Now with rapid transit, human bird flu will take a fraction of this time and if common sense views this, we have little chance to prevent the probably deaths of hundreds of millions of lives that will be lost this time around.

That is why we have been trying to get large organizations and governments to tackle the problem at source with no result to date. In this respect India, where we wrote to their prime minister two months ago, but have had no reply even though he greatly believes in addressing the problem at its source.

The reason we feel is down to the profit driven nature of society today and where there is no great profit in fieldwork, only in selling drugs to people.

But I have to say that only by addressing the problem of bird flu at its source, do we really stand any chance of defeating this killer disease that attacks children and the young far more than elderly people it appears.

Heading up our quest to defeat bird flu is Emeritus professor Kennedy Shortridge who was awarded the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize for stopping a probably pandemic of human bird flu happening in 1997.

He is the leading mind in the world in preventing bird flu at its source and where governments have to start taking seriously the thinking of the eminent professor before it is far to late for us all. For what is money if you are dead and your family with it.

Q. Do you have any specific comments or advice for our viewers?

A. I say to you and your readers that they should over the next few decades (for these will be the most critical decades for humankind's future, if it is to have one), apply a socio-economic system where their governments start a process of greater cooperation and collaboration so that all other nations can follow. This is the only way that the people of this planet will survive past this present century.

I say this as the present socio-economic thinking (the individual maximization profit generation dictum), cannot solve or support a constantly rising world population, declining food stocks and a world with dwindling resources that sustains life.

That is why the WIF is proposing the establishment of inter-nation research incubators that solve the world's problems together.

For only together can we ever hope to sustain the human experience and where without such a mechanism in place, the world has literally no real chance at all.

I hope that some of your readers can take up this challenge and where it is a strategy really for our very survival.

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