Chapter 19Our Vision of the FutureA Roadmap for Change

For nearly fifty years, from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the threat of nuclear annihilation hung like a cloud over life in the United States. Kids were taught to “duck and cover” in elementary school, protestors demonstrated against the bomb, and nearly all foreign policy attention was focused on containing the nuclear threat posed by the Soviets.

Today that seems like a kinder, gentler time.

Today we're concerned with terrorism, climate change, global cyber-security threats, disease pandemics, income inequality, mass migrations, economic dislocations, unsustainable food systems, and overpopulation.

It's enough to make you want to turn off the news.

But why this rise in global threats? Why have the challenges facing the world seemingly grown over the last fifty years?

Some argue it's because of mismanagement on the part of political leaders. “It's the rise of the alarmist left!” “It's the reactionaries on the right!” Others talk about how the media has gotten too efficient at scouring the globe for bad news. “Three-headed child in Myanmar eats mother!”

Both of these might be true, but we also see the rise of complex, thorny problems as a natural outcome of an increasingly connected world. Technology in communication and transportation broadens and flattens markets, and that makes all of our problems instantly global in scope. You pull a string in Toledo, and something jerks in Tokyo.

Boys in the ...

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