In a globalized world, a seemingly minor event in one place can have disastrous effects elsewhere. A relatively low-key event such as an election in a small developing country can be contested and ignite a sequence of reactions that spiral into armed conflict involving numerous countries. Quoting historian Niall Ferguson writing in Newsweek on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, “The world is a seriously complex place, and a small change to the web of events can have huge consequences.”
Nothing has done more to “connect the dots” than globalization. In turn, globalization owes its progress to advances in transportation and communications. The world has shrunk both physically and virtually, such that events, developments, and trends are quickly communicated around the globe. The long list of what I have called “global issues” has myriad interrelationships among them. For example, foreign direct investment by a developed country in a developing country promotes international trade, providing employment, raising people out of poverty, raising standard of living, and increasing international security between trade partners.
Ultimately, sustainability enters into most discussions. In the example above, can the standard of living of all people on earth reach that of developed countries, or is such expansion not sustainable given the earth’s resources? Some say current trends are sustainable, and many say they are not.
There are 51 topics on the “Global Issues” matrix. There is nothing special about having the list of 51. Others would choose more, less, or different topics. One could also argue that some issues on the list overlap or include others. But isn’t that the point? They are all profoundly inter-related. Like the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, I think all the topics could be linked with fewer than six steps. I hope to cover all of them in future blog posts.
The global issues are arrayed in the seven categories on the left. To view details about each, click on one of the top seven links.
Click on the link below to view the global issues matrix. It consists of 51 issues in a format that has a box connecting every issue to every other issue. For amusement, put an “x” in any box for which you can think of how the two issues are connected. There are 1,275 boxes in the matrix. How many issues are connected “first-degree?” How many degrees are needed to connect all boxes?
Click Global Issues Matrix