Ecocentric

CGI: Designing—and Powering—a Better World

The Clinton Global Initiative kicks off with a paean to the importance of designing solutions that can scale up.

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Global problems—in health, in the economy, in the environment—begin and end with design. An intelligently designed system can make success inevitable, and a poorly designed one can make it impossible. Too often we react to global threats after the fact, our responses hamstrung by underperforming and outmoded systems. If we’re going to fix the world—and it takes only a cursory glance at the headlines to reveal that it needs fixing—we need to start with design.

That was the takeaway message as the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) opened up its annual meeting in New York. The theme this year: “designing for impact.” Former President Bill Clinton put it simply in his opening address: “Today we want to talk about how you can design your actions in advance to make it more likely they will succeed.”

And it’s not just about designing a single elegant solution that might work for a single problem in a single country. It’s about designing—in advance—solutions that can scale up to the national, regional and even global level. “We need to plan for scale from the beginning,” said Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, speaking on an opening plenary panel with Clinton, Wal Mart CEO Mike Duke, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and Queen Rania of Jordan—a collection that is about as CGI as you can get. “Designing for impact means taking that scale seriously.”

(MORE: The Global Energy Supply Is Getting Greener. It’s Just Not Happening Fast Enough)

The CGI annual meeting is the apotheosis of philanthrocapitalism—big companies and world leaders meeting NGOs to solve major global problems, with the 42nd President of the U.S. overseeing it all. It’ll continue for the next several days, a kind of West Side counterpart to the U.N. General Assembly meeting that will be unfolding this week on Manhattan’s East Side. By the end of the summit billions will likely have been pledged by CGI members to address climate change, water issues, poverty, education and—a particular focus for CGI this year—female empowerment. And we need the help, as several speakers made clear. “I’m going to sound the alarm bell about the situation we’re living in,” said the UN’s Ban. “It’s an era of insecurity, injustice, inequality and intolerance.”

Obviously Ban didn’t read Clinton’s cover story on “The Case for Optimism” in this week’s TIME. But if Ban was a bit gloomy—and given the challenges of trying to lead the UN on intractable issues like Syria and climate change, I don’t blame him—other speakers were much more optimistic, confident the world’s problems can be fixed with very rich people backing very smart ideas.

One example was  introduced by Tim Brown, the CEO of the design group IDEO. The lack of proper sewage is a major problem globally, and nearly 40% of the world’s population lacks regular access to a clean toilet. IDEO is working with the corporate giant Unilever on the excellently named WSUP, Water Sanitation for the Urban Poor to provide better sanitation to poor urban areas. That includes a program to help entrepreneurs rent out portable toilets. It’s sustainable in the best way, a business model that also helps fix a major health challenge. It’s also an example of designing for impact in the best way possible. “Great design is anything that meets the need of the community that it is developed for,” said Brown.

The challenge—which will be taken up throughout this week at CGI’s annual meeting—will mean figuring out ways to scale up that kind fo design, all the way to the size of the planet.

MORE: Urban Planet: How Growing Cities Will Wreck the Environment Unless We Build Them Right

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Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company

I am looking to CGI to find a way forward that makes sense. We seem to be caught in the cross-fire between conservative greed and liberal over-regulation. Liberal over-regulation seems to be driven by the kind of environmentalists that Norman Borlaug would have called "elitist". Strangely, Borlaug has been mostly forgotten.

Rachel Carson has also been misunderstood, though not as forgotten as Borlaug. A discussion of Rachel Carson here on the Time blog clarified that Rachel Carson never advocated that DDT be banned, but only protested its over-use. She was actually quite in the middle of the road along with Norman Borlaug. Borlaug might be the main reason that world Communism failed, since the expected starving masses stopped starving quite so much and so did not rise to the cause.

Norman Borlaug said, "Some environmentalists are the salt of the earth (his friends), but many are elitests who have never had to worry about their next meal. If these folks had lived among the poor people as I have for many years they would say, give me tractors, canals, and fertilizers."

Borlaug's work is credited with saving a billion lives (Easterbrook, Atlantic Monthly 1997/01) and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. His methods were extremely effective in South America and Asia, but when he tried to carry the work to Africa the (?) elitest environmentalists convinced the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation to withdraw their support. These foundations had made the previous work possible. We should be asking who was responsible for this unconscionable influence.

I continue to urge the canals of the National Water Project that would enable universal irrigation. This would be directed to conversion of vast under-used lands in the US to highly productive farm land. It would also mitigate drought and flood. Note Norman Borlaug's, give us " -- canals, tractors, and fertilizers." Sign a petition for the National Water Project at: wh (dot) gov (slash) DzBD

Now for the tractors: The Miastrada Dragon is a personal tractor intended for use by farm laborers to avoid injury in the work and to increase productivity. Hopefully it will draw more people to that type of work. The tractor can be seen on youtube as "Miastrada Dragon".

We have not looked at the fertilizer issue, but Borlaug said that good fertilizer does not have to be organic (manure) but can also be a material that "-- returns to the soil the constituents that were there in the first place---". We have come to a serious misconception about fertilizer. It is not a bad thing that the material is a chemical compound. But once again, it can be over-used and mis-used.

Apparently Jimmy Carter backed Borlaug's efforts that would have extended his work to Africa, but was unable to overcome the lobbying by the "elitists". We might wonder what of Africa's calamities could have been avoided with a little more food.

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

Clinton Global Initiative will the be mother of all post-Presidential work.

Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company

We have been urging the Clinton Global Initiative to lead on promoting a National Water Project. This project would build and operate infrastructure to enable universal irrigation, thereby enabling mass conversion of under-used land into productive farm land. The effect would be greatly expanded agro-industrial production based on farm operations and products, thus revitalizing our economy.

 

We need to adapt to the new agro-industrial era with new equipment. The Miastrada Dragon on youtube shows an example of how we might rethink our farming methods, yes, to enable jobs that people will do.

Effects of drought and flood would be much mitigated by the universal irrigation system, thus providing wide benefit to the public, similar somewhat to the Interstate Highway infrastrure.

 

But first, we need to encourage the National Water Project by signing a petition at wh (dot) gov (slash) DzBD  (links do not seem to be allowed)  We know how to do this based on the scale model of the California Central Valley and the California Aquaduct experience.

There seems to be some resistance by the Clinton Global Initiative to hearing about this, though it could just be one of those vaguaries of blogs.

Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company

We have been urging the Clinton Global Initiative to lead on promoting a National Water Project.  This project would build and operate infrastructure to enable universal irrigation, thereby enabling mass conversion of under-used land into productive farm land.  The effect would be greatly expanded agro-industrial production based on farm operations and products, thus revitalizing our economy.   

We need to adapt to the new agro-industrial era with new equipment. The Miastrada Dragon on youtube shows an example of how we might rethink our farming methods, yes, to enable jobs that people will do.

Effects of drought and flood would be much mitigated by the universal irrigation system, thus providing wide benefit to the public, similar somewhat to the Interstate Highway infrastrure. 

But first, we need to encourage the National Water Project by signing a petition at www.wh.gov/DzBDI  We know how to do this based on the scale model of the California Central Valley and the California Aquaduct experience.

There seems to be some resistance by the Clinton Global Initiative to hearing about this, though it could just be one of those vaguaries of blogs.

Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company
Jim Bullis, Miastrada Company

The Miastrada Dragon can be seen on youtube in early testing.  It is a Designed invention for the purpose of eliminating the usual pain in farm work.  It is a personal tractor that was invented for farm workers and designed for farm profits.   

It has the important features that would lead to a start-up venture, though the business planning questions whether farm workers can afford their own personal tractor.  Micro-finance is a path where the funding could be provided as loans to individual workers, who would be enabled as a business to repay the loan and make a profit due to the greater amount of work that can be done with this new equipment.  Non-profit organizations are a possible part of this funding process.

Heterotic
Heterotic

Free condoms for all in the world.

Plumbline
Plumbline

Put your trust in the one who has the future all wrapped up........

.......Revelation 21:5.........Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”