For this Humanosphere podcast, we talk to ourselves.
Rather than the usual deal where we interview a guest, our small but devoted and talented news team decided that inauguration day for President Donald Trump was an appropriate occasion to highlight some issues we intend to focus on in the coming year. Forecast stormy.
Arguably, we seem to be entering a new, more unstable era. Instability can be a good thing, if it disrupts entrenched barriers to progress, opportunity and equity. That is one explanation for what may have motivated many American voters to make a real estate developer and reality TV star their new president, or why British voters decided they want out of the European Union. Clearly, folks are fed up with the status quo.
Here at Humanosphere, we want to disrupt some aspects of the status quo as well. But we operate under the assumption (or bias, if you wish) that what needs disruption are the political, economic and social factors that contribute to poverty and inequity. The rise of toxic forms of nationalism, isolationism, protectionism and xenophobia worldwide hardly appear to us as positive disruption.
Before the whole team talks among ourselves, Tom Paulson and I discuss some of the week’s top news beginning with a story by Lisa Nikolau about murders of left-wing activists in Colombia allegedly by police and soldiers ‘freelancing’ for wealthy landowners who did not favor the peace deal.
A good news story this week was a new initiative funded and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, the governments of Norway, Germany and others to ‘fast-track’ vaccines for use in putting down infectious disease outbreaks such as we’ve seen in recent years with Ebola and Zika viruses.
Another big story this week that also involved Bill Gates was Oxfam’s latest bombshell report on the rise of wealth inequality worldwide. Gates, along with fellow Seattle zillionaire Jeff Bezos, is among the eight richest people on the planet who hold the same amount of wealth as half of the world, some 3.6 billion of the poorest people. A related story was (as of today, former VP) Joe Biden warning at the World Economic Forum that this rising wealth inequality puts all of us at risk – which is a nice segue to our discussion. Listen in!