Zoom! ... (courtesy of Pixabay) (yes, I know that's not a donkey) (try finding a donkey in aviator gear)
One of the weekly emails I receive is from BBC.com and is called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week." Generally I find at least one of the article titles is interesting enough to pursue.
This week the title that I could not resist clicking on was "The Snack That Changed The English Language" and it was about the role of pies in history and from that role the ways that we now use sayings about pie to describe things, such as "humble pie," "easy as pie," and so on. While it was a half-decent article, it also made me a little gaggy because there was a photo of a sardine pie with the fish heads all poking out of the pastry. Now, savoury pies (including fishy ones) are not tops on my list of Pie I Dream About. That category is reserved for dessert pie such as apple or mincemeat (which in our household is about half raisin and half pulverized cooked roast beef, which makes it sound like a savoury pie but trust me, it's not).
Anyway -- to keep on doggedly trying to get to my point -- at the bottom of that web page there were a number of links to other articles, and THIS IS WHERE MY INTERNET AIRPLANE/CANOE HAS BEEN HEADED, for the purpose of this post. Finally.
The article I really wanted to talk about today is from BBC Future, an offshoot of BBC.com that provides in-depth coverage of science, health and technology.
BBC Future asked "a series of experts" what they thought were the grand challenges that matter in 2017. Here I would like to offer my opinion that some of the "experts" are not what I would have in mind when asking about the most important challenges facing the world -- for example, the last question in the list below is provided by the former corporate vice-president for research and development at General Motors, so it is not surprising that he has come up with this take on what the grand challenge is. That's not to say that the question he poses is not important; however, it does make me wonder how the contributors were chosen and why.
Be that as it may, the questions posed are interesting and diverse, and have made me think, which, as I have already stated, is never a bad thing.
Here they are, and here is where you can read the entire article, in case you are interested in a bit more information on any or all of the questions (it is not a long article):
How can we avoid resistance to antibiotics?
What can we do to conserve water -- especially in the face of climate change and urbanisation?
How do we fight "fake news"?
In an interconnected world, how do we fight global disease?
How will we deal with overpopulation?
How will the era of big data and artificial intelligence shape our health?
How can we safely use gene editing technology in humans?
How do we make cities more sustainable and pleasant for the people who live there?
How can we keep extending our life expectancies?
How can rapidly developing regions grow effectively?
How can we better inform people about natural disasters?
Car ownership continues to rise worldwide -- how will we accommodate this?
I find it highly interesting that nowhere on that list has anyone said "How Can We End The Suffering Caused By War?" or "How Can We End The Suffering Caused By Those Who Crave Power?" which I see as basically the same thing. How about simply "How Can We End The Suffering Of The Innocent?" This comes to mind more forcefully than usual as news reports surface of four famines that are on the verge of ravaging Africa (Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia) and Yemen. For more on that, see this article from the New York Times.
I don't know whether the leading minds in the world find these questions too impossible to answer, making them turn to other, more solvable questions, or whether BBC Future didn't ask the leading minds but rather conveniently available ones.
I don't know the answers, and I'm not sure I know the right questions, but I think we have to figure out the latter before we can figure out the former.
Welcome to my brain, where the air and/or waters are often turbulent. Mind the splashing if you get too near the paddle.
It was in thinking about the impending famines that my poem for Poetry Monday came into being. I thought about the famines that have taken place over the decades of my life. The one that pierced my heart the worst was the Ethiopian famine of 1983-5. Our first child was born in 1983 and the true cost to the most helpless of the citizens - the children - disturbed me deeply as I compared our baby's life and ours to the suffering of those souls.
The men have guns.
The women have babies.
The babies have nothing: No food. No water. No future.
And yet again.
But for the grace
Of birth place
Don't forget that Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border and Delores at Mumblings are also writing poems for Poetry Monday. If anyone wants to join in, feel free to leave your poem in the comments at any of our blogs, or on your own blog and leave us a note in the comments so readers will know where to find you.