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Twenty Global Problems and Twenty Years to Solve Them

By Murray Bourne, 03 Jan 2008

In the December IntMath Newsletter, I challenged my readers to:

... use their education in ways that will improve relationships between people and improve the sorry state of the world.

Sounds like a good idea, but what can we do?

In the book High Noon: Twenty Global Problems and Twenty Years to Solve Them, Jean-Francois Rischard outlines some important issues that we have to get right in the near future.

Hopefully there is something on this list that you can work on, either individually, or with your school or community. Heck, you could even join global organisations that are working on these issues.

Sharing our planet: Issues involving the global commons

1. Global warming
2. Biodiversity and ecosystem losses
3. Fisheries depletion
4. Deforestation
5. Water deficits

[Reduction in population growth, paper use and energy consumption will go a long way to solving each of these 5 problems.]

Sharing our humanity: Issues requiring global commitment

6. Maritime safety and pollution
7. Massive step-up in the fight against poverty
8. Peacekeeping, conflict prevention, combating terrorism
9. Education for all
10. Global infectious diseases
11. Digital divide
12. Natural disaster prevention and mitigation

[Actually, number 9, 'Education for all' will go a long way to solving most of the problems 6 to 12.]

Sharing our rule book: Issues needing a global regulatory approach

13. Reinventing taxation for the 21st Century
14. Biotechnology rules
15. Global financial architecture
16. Illegal drugs
17. Trade, investment, and competition rules
18. Intellectual property rights
19. E-commerce rules
20. International labor and migration rules

[These actually look the most challenging to me, since it will be very difficult to reach global consensus on any of them.]

So there's your challenge for 2008 and beyond.

Mathematics is involved in the solutions for all these problems. So instead of doing algebra with no purpose other than to pass an examination, let's put our mathematical efforts into coming up with ways to solve (at least some of) these problems.

See the 5 Comments below.

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