Do you have opinions on any of the issues Principal Voices is exploring: The environment, business innovation, economic development and transport? If so, we want to hear them. E-mail your views, including your full name and country of residence, to
. A selection of these messages will be posted below.
I think CNN has it all wrong, the 'principal voices' are actually those of us here in the "your comments" section. The name of your project stinks of the same hierarchical and unjust system most of us on this page are trying to change. Lose the "experts" they haven't done us much good so far, have they?
Chris Tangey, Alice Springs, Australia
Overpopulation and poverty are the twin issues that cause so much suffering in the world, not only in developing nations but in developed ones as well. If you breed before you can read you are practically dooming your children to poverty, health care issues (including spread of disease), and a life of crime or prostitution. I would personally view this as severe child abuse and about as next worst thing you can do next to murder...no matter where in the world you are. You are also less likely to care about the environment when faced with issues involving tradeoffs with jobs. For example, the destruction of the rain forest in Brazil by the overpopulated masses looking for opportunity. If the Earth's population were stabilized at the roughly six billion level, we might have a chance over the next two decades to get pollution under control and deal with issues such as enough clean water even during droughts. But as we seem to be moving to nine billion people without a second thought because the Catholic Church, the Islamic clerics, the Mormons, and others see population growth as a way to increase their influence in the world or at least not lose influence. And even among educated and caring parents who can not only take care of themselves but of their children, one must shake ones head when they complain about congestion and sprawl while having four or five children themselves. The only solution I can think of besides public service messages, etc. would be programs providing intense remedial education, substance abuse and psychological treatment and a retirement income to those that put off having children until they are trained and productive. Especially in developing countries, if people did not have to look at children as if there were animals ("if I breed enough, some will be there to take care of me when I am old even though many will suffer and die along the way"), the quality of life might improve. As for the U.S., the issue is that so many who have children do not care about them at all and there is not enough money in the world that people would willingly pay in taxes...or could pay in taxes... to really make a significant dent, let alone solve the problem, of large neighborhoods full of psychologically and physically abused children, teens, and young adults who unluckily were born to irresponsible people who really cannot even be called parents. But, of course, none of this can be discussed as Republicans view it as anti-family and Democrats view it as anti-poor. The average age in most Islamic nations is 20-25 years old and getting younger. Exactly how is this going to maintain stable nations vs. a frustrated and unemployed population prone to radical action? India's population is set to exceed China's. Is that not adding to the risk of the development of disease given how so many in poverty continue to have children who will live in poverty? Good luck to the Earth 30 years from now.
Ken Niemi, Berkeley, California USA
The greatest threat to the environment is the uncontrolled population growth. I see no effort made to address and limit the exploding world population except for the criticism of China's one child policy? It appears that the religious groups will not permit any effort to address the issue until it is too late.
Paul Conley, USA
It seems that in today's world, peace is not taken seriously. Many think that there is nothing they can do to help people around the world that are dying from hunger, war, poverty, etc. They do not want to push themselves to understand and realize that something can be done. This country is dominated by brand names and cell phones. Rational thinking and the welfare of people around the world are neglected. TV channels are switched when disturbing news appear on the screens because people want to live in their own world and not face the truth of what is happening. The US has the capability to help those that are starving and dying, but unfortunately it chooses not to. War is a better solution than generosity.
Heba Abdel-K. USA
Oil seems to be a popular topic in today's world. However, I don't hear much discussion on the simple fact that oil will run out. I consider this our paradox of progress. It takes energy to make energy, and when we consume the same amount of energy as we provide; oil will forever come to an end. Despite technology; when it costs oil companies the amount of energy produced per barrel of oil, just equal to the amount used to obtain it, nothing will be left. This is known as net energy, and I never hear any discussion on this. Although many people believe in alternatives, however that will not compensate for the loss of energy from crude oil. Fusion power, solar energy, and other forms of alternative energy will not make up for the loss of crude oil. The question stands, what can we do? The answer: nothing. We can use all the technology available to slow this process, but we our likely to see this happen in our lifetimes, and if not ours, the children we leave behind will experience this. I am not much of a religious person, but I believe this will result in complete chaos, and the collapse of econmies, leading to many wars throughout the world, then ultimately the end of civilization, as we know of it today. Just some food for thought.
William Keyes, student, Michigan, U.S.A.
If the US is the most powerful force in the world right now then the universe is up the creek without a paddle. The problems of world poverty and injustice CAN be solved. But not until the average person is willing to risk their own little personal comfort zone to go against their special interest controlled government(s). Speaking as an American, I am giving my "democracy" one more chance to work in the next elections. If they don't clean out our political corruption, then as far as I am concerned the second bloody American Revolution begins. Enough is enough.
Renfro Carroll, North Carolina, USA
President George Bush ought to think more about the issues affecting the lives of Americans everyday and take it easy on his global war on terror. The recent environmental disasters in the U.S demand much attention from the U.S government. Lives have been destroyed completely and people have been left to themselves in many cases. Instead of spending all the billions of dollars on the military and unncessary projects which only make our world more unsafe, it would be better to reallocate that money so that the American public's problems can be taken care of. It seems his reelection was a real mistake afterall.
Imad Khalife, Lebanon
I feel the old adage is true: "Those who do not learn from their mistakes from the past; are doomed to make the same mistakes in the future", especially for governments such as America, Great Britain, Russia and most of the EU.
I also do not believe the American Government will ever learn nor do they want to learn, that war is not the answer for political gains anywhere or everywhere in the world.
And that until all people everywhere truly, in their heart believe, that we as Humans all share a common bond, a common end; we are destined to make the problems of today's world forever worse.
And a building built on a bad foundation, can not stand. And that is what is happening.
If we do not stop using capitalism and war as the tool to solve all the worlds woes, those woes will forever stay the same.
Marshall Osborne, Lauderdale by the Sea, FL
Education is not the answer, obviously, because both the teachers and the students are flawed. There are too few students willing to learn, and increasingly, teachers are choosing to become stump preachers in the classrooms rather than inspiring free thought. If education was the answer, there would be more striving to become educated than rampant close-mindedness; however, as even clearly evidenced by the string of comments, too many are more interested in pushing their agenda rather than actually open to learning.
Personal responsibility is what is lacking. The world is full of whiners and complainers (yes, you, reading this article, not your neighbor). Less hypocrisy is what is required and more open-mindedness to listen to another's opposing views regardless of whether you agree or disagree. And more importantly, kindness in word and in deed. I would bet that for most of you we could count your kind words and deeds on one hand but your bitter acts are too numerous to measure.
Are these words falling on your deaf ears? Thank you for proving my point that education will never be the key.
Dorothy McGrath, USA
The world is overpopulated with uneducated, greed humans. Just compare the impact of a couple of American people with a house 4500 square foot, a cabin by the lake, two high consuming trucks, against 1000 poor African or South American people. The exacerbated consuming of goods and the corporate culture that generates this behavior will drive the extinction of this civilization.
Mircea Rau, Canada
I do not appreciate the argument that the world's problems are hinged on over-population. I am pretty sure that even if Nigeria is over-populated, we are blessed with enough resources to match the challenges of over-population. The biggest problem we face today is the greed of our leaders who prefer to milk the national treasury dry at the expense of poor masses. Our corporate leaders are even more greedy. They capitalize on the loopholes in the economy to perpetuate injustice. The world will be a better place to live if our leaders will use our God's given resources for the good of all. We really have all it takes to make things work especially in the developing world.
Okoro Emmanuel Obinna, Lagos, Nigeria
The Principal Voices London Debate was a very enjoyable and thought provoking event. However, I found myself wondering why the discussion was unsatisfying - why I did not feel that we were getting closer to solving a problem. The following numbered points occurred to me and it might be useful if I pass them on.
1.Essentially, we had a discussion of the relative merits of two models: market/ enterprise; and public/altruistic intervention.
2. It is noteworthy that the issue arises even within developed economies. 'How are pockets of acute deprivation best addressed?'
3. The Market/enterprise model is broadly inappropriate in dealing with: war zones; severe natural disasters; and very severe underdevelopment. The reason would appear to be that the basics of civil society and of business and communications infrastructure are insufficient.
4. So the key question is, 'What are the conditions for the success of the market/enterprise model?' Logically, it would seem that the answer will vary from mobile phones to pharmaceuticals and from economy to economy. However, it would be well worth addressing this question - and also the conditions for success of public/altruistic intervention - more directly than did our discussion on 7 September 2005.
Max Weaver, Chief Executive Officer, Community Links, London
The problem with this world is that human beings do not recognize their innate inferiority. We have leaders upon leaders who do not know how to lead, but think they do. Too many people, including the world's leaders, think the planet's problems can be understood and resolved in a linear fashion. A simplistic linear extrapolation of the past into the future is woefully insufficient. The world - its politics, religions, peoples, challenges and solutions - are quite non-linear. Finding resolution to the world's problems is not a multiple-choice test, where the answer resides in one of four boxes. Events are unpredictable. Today, we need leaders who can adapt and contemplate multiple scenarios simultaneously, then adopt appropriate strategies. Lock-step mentalities befuddled by endless bureaucratic dialogue and platitudes is our world's nemesis. As Einstein said, "We can't solve problems with the same mindset that created them."
James S. Taylor, Portugal
On my limited travels outside the U.S., I encountered so many people even among our hisoric allies who resented America, my nation. While I made friends one on one eventually with some of these people, as an American I would pose the question "Why do you resent and disklike America as a country? How has the country's leadership, actions, disappointed, hurt or betrayed you and/or your country? What can Americans do as individuals or as a country to repair the damage or gain your trust and respect?" These are the questions I would pose if I could.
Carolyn Harrison, USA
Islamic Terrorism should be brought to an end at any cost. But, at the same time I've few questions. Who supplied weapons to Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan in the late 70's to fight against Soviet Union? Who funded billions of dollars to Pakistan to create terrorist camps and train the Taliban to fight against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan? Who backed Israel and made the Middle East conflict raise over years? Who is the biggest small arms manufacturers in the world? I request Mr.Bush and US govt. to stop this political drama and come up genuinely to fight terrorism in a better manner.
Madim Sridhar, France
The greatest problem our world faces today is fear. Fear causes the buildup of arms (North Korea, Iran, etc.) and war between people (Israel/Palestine, etc.), undermining the ability of our countries to work together to solve the rest of the world's problems while respecting cultural differences. As the people of the world continue to remain divided by fear, all of the other problems will remain unsolved even though as a world community we have the resources available to solve them together.
Pamela Harrington, USA
The late John F. Kennedy's famous line "Ask not what your country can do for you,ask what you can do for your country" should be the principle of every nation.One should ask himself what he can contribute for the betterment of his own country.Let us set aside greed, bitterness and corruption and focus on what our country is really suffering from and how we can be instruments of peace and justice to our fellow countrymen. Let us not focus on our own personal abundance and welfare alone but also the welfare of others.A good citizen with respect for law and order will make a good country.
Charina Monterola, Manila, Philippines
Education is the only answer!! My view is from a woman who was born into a very poor family in the United States of America. My parents had 8th grade educations, they were intelligent but ignorant in many ways. My father worked long hours as a truck driver and helped organize membership for the Teamsters Union in the mid-50's and 60's. No matter how many hours my father worked, there was never enough money. My parents had 14 children. My father and mother were very hardworking and instilled values in their children of hard work, honesty, consideration and compassion for our fellow man. My mother always wanted to continue to go to school, but married at 15. My father did not believe it was important for his daughters to have a high school education, but my mother insisted that her daughters would be educated. All of their children graduated from high school and those that have a college degree have master's degrees in: organic chemistry, psychology. Others are nurses and teachers.
IF THE G8 WOULD MAKE A COMMITMENT TO BEGIN TODAY TO GIVE MONEY TO INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS ONLY FOR EDUCATION WITH THE PREMISE THAT BEGINNING TODAY EVERY CHILD THAT IS SIX YEARS OF AGE OR UNDER WILL BE GIVEN BASIC EDUCATION (READING, WRITING, MATH & PUBLIC HEALTH) IN EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD -- THE WORLD WILL HAVE A GENERATION OF EDUCATED PEOPLE IN TWENTY YEARS!!! THIS GENERATION WILL SOLVE THEIR COUNTRY'S PROBLEMS -- Thus solving the problems of the world!!!
Pauline Queen, United States of America
Isn't it amazing that countries other than the USA write to CNN with comments and solutions? What does that tell you about the intelligence level of lazy, entitled Americans? We have so many poor and mentally ill people in the US, but most do not want to even see them, much less help them. We could feed the world with no problem, but we do not! I am disgusted with the USA!!
Kathleen Hoynes Malfi, Upper Gwynedd, PA. USA
Birth Control for all, and even given out free, would help so much in unwanted pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases! I am one of those in the USA that believes birth control should be free and available to all, in school bathroomes and in everyone's house even! They are going to have sex anyway, as they drink anyway, so why not help our youth to avoid STDs!!?? Even in high school I would go and buy condoms for male friends, even though I was not having sex myself. The USA is so bad with the damn Conservative message of Abstinance, whiuch makes me laugh, as our ministers of most religions, and men of too many so called 'Christian' faiths, are having affairs all the time, whether with women who seek counsel from them, Choir members, any church members, or even neighbors. Makes me sick, as so many are not 'born again', whatever that really means, but live life faithfully and help their fellow neighbors!! I am so very sick of the preachy people, who never help anyone but those they personally know. America has so many in need of help, or asssitance to gt a job, and most other Americans do not care a bit about them, or their children!
Kathleen Hoy, US
Why is birth control never addressed or discussed when all the pictures of dying African children are being shown? I don't get the logic here. Starving people are having babies. Wouldn't it make sense to STOP having babies just to see them starve to death? Isn't aids spread in Africa the same way as here? Last time I heard, we stop the spread of the disease by using condoms or abstaining from sex. Now here's a novel idea...birth control...maybe all the effort that is put into feeding a growing population could be better served to find a way to stop the population from growing.
Ari Driver, Canada
The British prime minister is taking an active role in what appears to be genuine interest to help the poor in Africa. However, he is also rewarding corrupt and brutal African leaders on the other hand. Just look at the people he considers to be progressive and visionaries. The darling of the British government appears to be the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. This is the same Ethiopian leader who is refusing to accept as final and binding the ruling of the independent commission on the demarcation of the border between his country and Eritrea. He is the same leader who is preparing to go to war again instead of feeding his people and building his nation. If Tony Blair genuinely wants to help Africans, he must tell nations like Ethiopia that they can't afford to disrespect the rule of law and beat war drums.
Desale Yacob, Virginia Beach, VA
The great disparity in wealth is due to in part to the fact that some of us are living in the third millennium while some of us are still in the second and some in the first millennium. Technology , spread world wide, can bring us all up to date. Starvation is not only due to the lack of food but also due to the misconceptions in nutrition. Religions help to make many obsessive, compulsive leaving behind any ability to think dispassionately and objectively. Dissemination of technology will be the most efficient, cheapest way to bring us all up to date. Solutions to world wide problems then will be more readily available.
Salvatore Biscardi, Italy
It seems to me that the issues Principal Voices addressess are all subservient to the issue of how well our political systems foster deliberation. Political Scientists describe the decline in partisanship as the reason that worldwide parties are increasingly ineffectual in aggregating voter support for longer term policy making.
Democracy depends on citizens - who largely are not willing to contemplate all the detail needed for intelligent policy making. Principle Voices needs to address the big issue if it is to have a significant effect.
Malcolm Mummery - Perth, Australia
I am an American. I do think that the environment needs protecting. I believe we need to use the technology of the more developed countries to bring the underdeveloped countries up to the level that we all try to enjoy. We also need to respect others, not regarding their color or religious beliefs. We should stand up for others to enjoy the right to their individuality with the same vigor that we, especially the American people, expect as our rights. The more technology advanced countries tend to expect everyone to want what they have, but this is not always what is best for the country or the culture in which they live. If we supply the technology for them to support and care for themselves, we do not need to try to impose the ideals of ourselves on others.
Len Reports, Texas, U.S.
The critical question is not what is is wrong with the world but rather what individuals do to change our perceptions of ourselves, others and the environment in which we live. We are the designers of the kind of world in which we live; The builders of infamy and and fame fashioned by our convictions and deeds. Let's all stop playing the "Blame Game" and begin to do our part to improve all aspects of life for all people.
Vaz Henry, Canada
Citizens the world over, suffer from the same problems. Two of the most dangerous are: Willful ignorance and arrogance of these citizens and Corrupt, self-serving, lying, evil and incompetent "leaders" who really could care less about the people they are supposed to represent. It is the same through out the world, the willful ignorance and naiveté of the people allow the lying, corrupt and evil few, to rule the willfully ignorant masses.
No relief in sight, no rescue ships appear on the horizon.
Pat Bird, California, U.S.
I am an union worker who used to make General Motors parts. I am glad of the globalization of the jobs and the way that some of the poorer countries are receiving some of the manufacturing jobs and service jobs that were keeping the prices of automobiles clothing and other items high. Eventually what the governments need to work on are the working conditions in these countries and also bringing up the average household income in the same countries. Getting the jobs to these people give them dignity and respect and all the people of the US who used to whine (and still do) about "Government handouts" can now complain that the jobs no one liked and that were not paying well are now overseas.
I don't think this is a bad thing for the world, and I think that once the shift has been completed that we will all benefit from this, although I would not be surprised if our (US) average household income decreases slightly. We need to include in the outsourcing of jobs places like Haiti and other "left behind" countries.
Susan Riggs, U.S.
If you allow a wider use of the term "environment" to include the mental or ideational environment, then I think that the greatest single problem facing humanity (a problem that affects economic development, innovation, the wider natural environment, and certainly transport) is the idea that "I am right and you are wrong." This idea is at the root of the conflict between Christianity and Islam (dubbed the war between democracy and terrorism), between Israel and the Palestinians, Northern versus Southern Ireland, and a host of other conflicts. This Western idea is a pernicious and toxic idea. The Orient seeks balance and harmont between opposing views, while the West seeks annihilation of the "other" (Bin Laden wants to destroy us, and we want to destroy him).
Derek, Florida, U.S.
Religious intolerance is the world's biggest problem. Every other problem (famine, disease, oil running out) can be fought with technology.
Reinder van Bruggen, France
As an American, I look at my homeland today as one that is led by plutocrats. They'll do anything for more wealth and more power, and that includes exploiting the rest of the world with manipulation, strong-armed tactic and even war. Therefore nothing gets accomplished with regards to education, tolerance and helping the billions who live in poverty. Our world would be safer if we addressed these real needs, rather than fomenting terror with rhetoric met with contradictory actions. America has the wrong formula and the wrong spirit. Economic leader, military leader, spiritual hypocrite... or as one civil rights leader said, "We have guided missiles and misguided spirits."
J. Michael Vincent, Catskill, U.S.
The biggest problem the world faces today is the concept of nation states, where greed and competition dominates the way of life. Human nature and culture postulate a "world without borders headed by a world government." Such a spaceship "Earth" would automatically solve overpopulation, poverty and the life-threatening environmental hazards by creating a "psychic unity of mankind."
Reinhard Hohler, Thailand
The most dangerous and a main problem in the world today is Mr. George Bush's policy with all nations.That's why the world is in this situation, and all the people in all countries are hating US. Mr. bin Laden is dangerous, but Mr. Bush is worst, and he must be hunted for many atrocities commited since his government have started and responsable for increasing the violence in so many countries due to American "freedom" and "liberting people".Who gives to US the rights to rule all the world? Is the world belonged to US? Are we his slaves?
Mr. Silva, Brasil.
Although not listed, perhaps the biggest problem the world is facing today is the abject lack of morals. Without morals, people are more likely to think only of themselves and not of others. The more this happens, the less aid will be sent to those in need; the less problems will be solved, as it "doesn't pertain to them, why should they care?"; the more diseases will be spread; the more people will tend to feel isolated, causing the suicide rate to increase. Without morals, there is also a tendency to forget about the long-term and, instead, 'do what feels good now.' Goodbye Kyota Treaty, goodbye environment, goodbye retirement money. Also, this leads to blaming others rather than taking personal responsibility, which will either harm that person or everyone else around them, depending on how it is acted out, i.e. violence, total apathy, feelings of helplessness over all situations, frivolous lawsuits, and of course, unexplored potential. Many of who could have been the world's greatest leaders or thinkers may have been lost because of this.
Karen L. Sayers, Florida, U.S.
I believe hunger/poverty to be one of, if not the biggest problem our world faces. (And of course, if we could eliminate greed, caring for the poor and hungry probably wouldn't be an issue.) While I would like to expound on why I believe this to be so, I'm no scholar on world history, economics, or politics.
But it says something about who we are as individuals and as nations when thousands of people die daily due to poverty.
Karen Youmans, Netherlands
The world is over populated. Birth numbers around the world are too high and have been for decades. The supply of land, water and food to sustain us are too little or already depleted. Disease is rampant which will cull our world population, which in turn will rejuvenate the natural world which will then be able to sustain a limited number of humans. Unfortunately, we need humans to die off by the millions so in turn there will be less pollution to the planet which in turn can re-nurture a sustainable amount of wasteful humans. Our perception of worshipping human life is clouded as we are expendable like all other creatures and living things of this planet. We should be concentrating on sustaining a healthy earth first, not a healthy human population, through demanding strict moral and social behaviour standards, as this will ensure the evolution of man and our species in the galaxy.
Scott Turner, Ontario, Canada
Finding out how can we solve the world's biggest problems we will identify the one biggest problem: Education. Only thru widespread education can we really solve overpopulation, environmental, political, economics and social issues. As long as we form a thoughtless mass, we will keep-on suffering our demise.
Sergio Rodríguez, México
Many of your subscribers seem to be worried about overpopulation. I have a eeling that at some unfortunate moment in time an irresponsible aggressive minor holder of nuclear weapons, or a series of natural catasrophies, will take care of that. the polluting of our environment is a much more urgent matter to solve in the very near future. The kyoto agreement is a great step forward if it were not shackled and eternally delayed by the worlds bureaucrats who have to make the corresponding rules and regulations
Peter Collm Argentina
I would say population pressure is the biggest problem facing humanity at the moment. If you put too many hamsters in a cage, there's hell to pay. If you search for the root cause of the problems humanity deals with today, the answer to a majority of them is population pressure. That's one man's opinion at any rate. Can we do anything about it? We don't have to. Mother Nature will sort it all out. She always does.
Robert Leslie Harrod, Denmark
There are in this world few activities as rewarding as studying the beauty and diversity of life. The supreme beauty of the simplest plants surpasses most cultural achievements and easily outstrips two years of watching television. The study of this beauty provides an endless resource of well-being for generations past and perhaps generations to come.
Knowing this, it is very saddening to see that at an alarming pace species are going extinct, primary forest is being turned into garden tables and chopsticks and seas are being emptied to feed the ever expanding human population. The major factor causing this destruction of nature is population growth. It's role is obvious and pervasive.
Reducing the birthrates worldwide could perhaps remedy this, but I for one do not believe this is feasible. If then we cannot effectively influence the population growth, how can we at least weaken it's deteriorating effects on nature? The answers of course lie in the many different forms of nature conservation. Nature conservation aims to preserve whatever may be preserved of the precious resource called nature. This is a field with many problems, ranging from fragmented habitats, to poaching, to poor locals with their children's bellies to fill and their rightful claim to their own countries' forests.
These issues are practical rather than fundamental. The fundamental issue is the required funding. This funding is again directly related to the priorities set by governments, cultures (people that is) and industries.
The in my eyes incomprehensible beauty of nature naturally convinces me that the money, whatever the amount, is well spent if it serves to preserve some unique patch of rain-forest or a beautiful coral reef. The current flow of resources however indicates that nature is not a priority for any government. Neither, it seems, does any population of any nation truly consider this an important issue.
Tom Haezer, Netherlands
The world will be divided untill politics become a democracy in reality.
Hrvoje Jezic, Zagreb, Croatia
When I consider the effect of scale on salaries, I understand more clearly why so many jobs are going offshore. To a corporate president making $5 million per year, there is a considerable difference between an employee in Cleveland making $12.50 per hour and one in Juarez, Santiago, or Singapore making $1.25. If employees are perceived solely as a portion of the total resources required to make a profit, then jobs will continue to migrate to the Third World.
I wish to observe to these presidents that American employees are the blood of our economy. Our current strength is a function of a giant market which is utterly dependent upon employment. If too many jobs flow out, the market will eventually be weakened. There is a critical mass that must be maintained to avoid a significant collapse. Wages should flow from the US into developing economies at a rate that maintains our strength while growing new markets. This will make a stronger world economy, which ultimately will benefit us all.
Steve Berry, US
After the French "NO" vote, Jacque Chirac said that he has heard the people. He also said the same thing when he was rebuffed in the previous regional elections. He may hear the people but unfortunately he totally fails to understand the message. William Lubak
St-Genis Pouilly, France
Disease is what will sustain the human population. Man's continued attempts at stopping it will ultimately lead to far worse suffering with over population and the depletion of resources. Disease is part of the natural order. Keeping everyone healthy is not.
Gary E. Timmons, U.S.A.
It is a pity that the debate is reduced to the environment, transport, economic development and business innovation when the greatest challenge posed by globalization will be the cultural development of humanity.
In this regard, it is evident that the spread of the lowest cultural common denominator seems to be imposing around the world. Fast food, Rap and Violence factors seem to be the widest adopted values by the widest sections of the population in the developing countries (and the world for that matter): the children and the youth. These values will actually be crucial in determining the future of the environment, transport, economic development and business innovation of future generations that seems to be at the core of this debate.
Alonso Aznar, Spain
In reading the comments , the main drive seems to be to bash United States. If US stopped sending all the money to countries that seem to dislike us and used that money for mass transit and health we would have OUR problem solved. But no we must keep military to protect ourselves for the nuts in the world who have a great hate for anyone who has more than they. When will Islamic leader ever speak out against their extreme groups. Or do they support all the terror and just give lip service to peace.
W. Carpenter , Crown Point, Indiana, U.S.A.
Greed and Ignorance are the two primary problems that have prevented the world from making progress in resolving the problems of poverty, disease and conflict. Greed has caused rich nations, companies and individuals to refuse to consider the human and moral implications of their policies and actions. Ignorance has robbed many people of the knowledge and exposure necessary to improve their lot in the world.
Mankind needs to do more to save itself from these twin evils and build a world where progress, peace, prosperity and health will belong to all men. The responsiblity lies with each and every one of us.
Afolabi Akinrogunde, Lagos, Nigeria
As a former Catholic, I?m very concerned about the message the Church is preaching with regard to reproduction. The majority of today?s Catholics live in third world countries with limited access to birth control, plus the church is preaching against it. I?m very concerned that our limited resources are going to be outstripped by the population in my lifetime. I would like to se a reasonable approach to birth control that is acknowledged by the church in my lifetime.
Barbara Jennings. USA
Personally I think education is one true way to solve many of the problems that exist in the world. I am a student, referred to this site by a teacher, but few would take that opportunity - education needs to be taken to the people so that the right decisions can be made in fair democratic conditions.
Krysia Nowak, Australia
Conflict rooted in religious intolerance represents one of Earth's gravest concerns. The more secular a man is, the more rational and compromising he will be at the negotiating table. As Sting wrote, "Men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one"
Jim stuart, North Carolina USA
Population growth is the BIGGEST problem in the world. I think governments and people have already started moving in the right direction in trying to curb the population growth, although some governments are still backward in the name of religion which is a pity.
However, the second most important issue that should be addressed with immediate concern is dependency on oil. I think we should start by shelving of the conventional petrol engine and promoting the hybrid cars. This will reduce petrol consumption; reduce international oil prices; reduce the green house gas effect; reduce the pressure on the smaller nations and give them more budget to spend on better things; and most importantly reduce the importance of the GULF Nations.
Murthy Vaidheeswaran, Australia
The biggest challenge facing the future well-being of the U.S. is learning, or re-learning, when co-operation (through the moderating force of responsible government) is better than relying strictly on competition and market forces. In the eighties, the Democrats learned that government programs cannot solve everything; now the Republicans desperately need to learn that government can be a powerful and indispensable force in providing direction and long term stability that cannot be achieved with the more laissez faire, deregulatory policies that they are currently promulgating. With twice as many people on the planet in fifty years, and the looming challenges that face our nation and our world, it is time to find a better balance between competition and co-operation, with proactive co-operation playing a larger role. If we cannot make this adjustment in business and government, I fear that we will drift, if not towards disaster, towards a more dangerous, and extreme world of many preventable crises.
Burke Richardson, Arizona, USA
People please, please stop talking about how overpopulation is going to bring us all to our knees. That's is nonsense. Take a look around, at the world, and see just how much more land, open space is out there. Instead of putting a number on how many children each family can have, we should enforce who should and should not have children. Don't get me wrong, I think having children is a beautiful miracle that every family should experience. However, if you can not afford to bring a child up without the help of your state, country, or international humanitarian efforts, you should not have half a dozen children. If you want to have that many, then get off your lazy behind, stop blaming powerful government, or someone's predecessors for your situation, and get a job. If you don't have the means to feed your children then maybe you should stick with one!! It might come across as harsh, but none the less true. As one commentator said, people need to take responsibility for their actions and "put their destiny in their own hands". At least one way of eradicating poverty if you ask me.
Danijela Todorovic, Wisconsin, USA
The idea of initiating a multi-participant dialogue on "big issues" is a good one. However, the four subject areas are extremely narrow and seem mainly to reflect the view from the boardroom of a large oil company that after all should know better.
Fortunately, several of the posted comments refer to issues such as poverty, population growth, and the arms race. You could add global terrorism, the north-south imbalance, good governance and democracy, the clash of different faiths, corruption including corporate financial greed, infectious diseases, cloning ethics, and space exploration.
Jens A. Jorgensen, Belgium
The single biggest threat in my mind is population growth. If we could reduce the number of people on earth to at least half of the current numbers over the next 100 years and tackle the many known pollution issues alongside, the world will be a better place for our children and grand children. Give me a life without all the incessant demand for new technology, mobile phones and email in exchange for a more slow paced existence in communities with less noise, less people, less light pollution, more tolerance, more time for each other and our children, which we in the western world are neglecting more and more in the name of progress, consumption and egocentrism.
Henrik Buchleitner, Isle of Man, UK
I live in a small country, with a small population. It should be easy to handle, but the worldwide sickness called corruption is rampant. I see Bush and his hawks as being the world?s greatest menace. His inability to dialogue ends up with brute force. This must cease forthwith if we are to have any chance of living peacefully. Must we humans always be led into unwanted conflict by devious greedy leaders? For this the UN was developed. Perhaps we should give the UN far greater powers, and not rely on the individual and more powerful nations.
We are headed still in the wrong direction, and until we get rid of ignorant,spiteful leaders(and the voters are to blame for this in most cases) there is little or no hope for the rest of us.
Norma Lucia Carello Lopez, Sumatra
I think that much more than the economic situation or business or environment, the main problem facing our world is the relationship - or lack of it - between nations. For me the more powerful ones should be the ones giving more of a helping hand to the others instead of trying to create war with them.
Silvereen Mongru, Trinidad, West Indies
Of all the big issues you mention for discussion there is no mention of the over riding issue of overpopulation. This has become a taboo subject in a media desperate not to offend the religious sensibilities of its patrons (readers / viewers). There is not one issue on earth today which does not have its roots in the exponential expansion of mankind in the last two centuries to over 2 billion. Examples; pollution, poverty, famine, healthcare, wars, global warming, depletion of non renewable resources, etc, etc.
Dave Wildman, New Zealand
The world is over populated with Humans. Restrict everyone to just two per family. We are killing our planet with over population and all Kyoto and all the peace plans won't save this planet. We should have no more than 3 billion people. Aim to have that by the year 2250.
Ted Smith , Canada
It is one thing that businesses are constantly trying to better themselves, but there is something more worrying that is happening around the world. There is a syndrome of instant gratification happening everywhere and businesses are also not immune to this. As a result they would like to do things that provide instant results (especially in their balance sheets), without looking at the long-term consequences it has on the world. This is a dangerous cocktail. Why, for instance, do Multinationals who are unable to adhere to strict environmental guidelines of the Western world choose to base their factories in developing nations where the environmental laws are more lax? Wanting the best in the world at the cheapest price may sound good to the business but who pays the price for it ? It is the poorest of the poor in the poorest of the poor countries who pay the price.
Radha Mohan Durbha, Mumbai, India
The ONLY cure for the increasing problems of the world is population control. Every country MUST adopt Chinas one child policy. The Churches must be stopped from advocating more and more births; industry must be told they cannot support more and more customers for their products; anti abortion groups must be outlawed. THE WORLD POPULATION MUST BE BROUGHT DOWN TO 3 billion.
George Smith, CANADA
Einstein said that problems cannot be solved by the same level of awareness that created them. The problems we face require a profound shift in perspective, a realization inside each of us that we are all interconnected, all one people and one planet. This is not simply a spiritual shift, for scientists, from ecologists to physicists, increasingly recognize this truth. Now, we are collectively being pushed as a race to integrate this into our daily lives and take action on its implications. When one is really conscious of our intrinsic interrelatedness then creativity arises, alternate paths present themselves, and choices can be made supporting sustainability. These are individual tasks that cannot be initiated by governments or corporations. Those entities will follow once enough individuals demand it. In the meantime, the old adage, "Think globally, act locally", has never been more true, particularly for those of us living in highly-consumptive countries.
Alan Zulch, Kagoshima, Japan
I am curious why you didn't include "Technology" as one of the big issues? I believe the impact of technology on our individual lives and communities, both positive (convenience, safety, communications) and negative (security, privacy, access limitations) is increasing at a furious rate. It overlaps with all four of your categories, but I think, from an end user point of view, it rates up there with the big issues you have chosen.
Walt Brown , U.S.
Oil resources are declining whilst demand for oil is increasing, leading to permanent price increases. Various new and cleaner technologies are being researched or are already available. They need not be (much) more expensive than oil. What should be the role of government to help the switch to cleaner energy. Or should (can) it be left to market forces?
Richard van Rooij, Tokyo
I think that if the USA launches an attack on Iran because of its alleged nuclear weapons program, the USA should face sanctions from the UN. In particular, I don't think that the western industrialized countries can allow for a primitive way of resolving differences to prevail over a reasoned, civilized one.
Rolando Saniz, Evanston, Illinois, U.S.