China should address problems with eye on future: think tank

Updated: 2015-10-05 23:31

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(China Daily USA)

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As China copes with problems like climate change, an aging population and an energy crisis, a futuristic approach may lead to more long-lasting solutions, according to a director of a Washington think tank.

The 2015-2016 State of the Future, an annual overview of the global situation and future prospects, is published by the Millennium Project, a futurist think tank. The report was released on Oct 2 at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

“The future studies in the Millennium Project are the input for China. What China does is to make their own strategies and policies; I think of that as food to the muscles,” said Jerome Glenn, executive director of the Millennium Project.

“The decision-makers in the government have to put the plans together,” he said. “The future studies can anticipate how the different polices can affect each other so that we can improve the completeness of policies.

“Future studies give us a clearer picture of what is going on now and follow the trend to predict what would happen in the future,” he said.

Glenn believes that such a vision can help the world tackle global challenges.

“Better cooperation will take place if countries can get a sense of the whole picture and more knowledge, from the future studies, about the consequences human activities can generate and the application of valuable scientific research,” he said.

On climate change, Glenn said the main stakeholders should be better informed so that they can have more common ground.

“The only area that I see China and the US military cooperate in is environmental security. Environmental security is like life support,” Glenn said. “China and the US should announce a goal by reducing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to 350 ppm (parts per million), which is not enough to control global warming. I believe they haven’t fully realized the ramification.”

China and the US are able to lead other countries to address climate change, and they should do more, Glenn said.

“We need the same kind of goals, which should have been more ambitious to unite China and the US together,” he said. “The first step has been done — the negotiations on climate change between China and the US in November last year. If the US and China can work together, India and the European Union will join. The US and China should be the leaders of the whole movement.”

Glenn said there are several promising areas of scientific research that could solve the energy crisis. He said many people do not realize the application of some valuable technology and scientific discoveries when they first become known. For example, many people think the Internet began in the 1990s, but the Internet protocol was done in 1968.

“People are living healthier and longer,” he said. “And they don’t have to use physical labor as much as before. You can do what you are doing when you are 80 years old.”