Turk Pipkin sets out on a year long journey to discover if there will be a better world for future generations or if our world is destined to begin unraveling. Pipkin interviews nine Nobel Prize winners in order to reach a conclusion. Media, big business, and politicians are unreliable. He does not know who can be trusted in making the proper decisions for the future.
Theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize in Physics (1979), discusses the political aspects of what is to be expected for future generations based on present decisions. Weinberg says that the conditions that start things are the fundamental rules that govern the universe. “The big wonder of how it all could be is one of the things that has always made us wonder what there was,” he says. He goes on to say that politicians do not know if the duplication of carbon dioxide is global warming, but we should acknowledge that it is an impact on the balance of energy in the world and is “an obvious potential for harm.” He concludes the interview with the unfortunate aspect that grandchildren do not vote yet and politicians only care about people who vote. People who do vote are not thinking about future generations and this poses as a challenge to the world.
“One impossibility is just a challenge for another,” says nanotechnology pioneer Rick Smalley, Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1996). Smalley discusses with Pipkin the top ten problems the world will face in the next fifty years and the challenges behind their solutions. Energy is the main problem. Carbon free energy is the main target. Within fifty years there will be an energy crisis unless more energy is produced. Smalley talks about the potential in the terawatt and how it could change the world. However, Smalley emphasizes on the fact “the world is blessed with deserts.” If solar farms were placed in small regions of the deserts “ten billion people” would have energy. “Imagine a world where it is totally solved,” he says. “Now five of the remaining nine problems would have a path to being solved and acceptable solutions would appear.” The other nine problems are water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism and war, diseases, education, democracy, and population.
Where there are challenges there are disparities. Director of Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Harold Varmus won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989. Not only is he Director, but also former head of the National Institute of Health under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Dr. Varmus talks to Pipkin about advances in medicine and the major challenges the world faces in global health and “the wide disparities.” The Molecular Revolution has provided a molecular basis for cancer that has made leukemia highly treatable. By analyzing a gene found in a chicken virus it was concluded it had derived for a normal gene. New therapies have been derived to prevent gene mutations. “Medicine advancements can identify and target cancers cells and AIDS,” he says. It is now possible to take apart diseases and analyze them. With these advancements, the overall infection percentage has dropped. Help has come from being able to target enzymes that interfere with growth; however, there are inadequate health systems in poor countries and inadequate resources given by wealthy countries to assist those in need. “The problem he says is getting the drug to people, them using it at the right time, knowing how to administer it, and the methods for treating drug resistant forms of a disease.
Without change, history will continue to be the history of war and not other possibilities for dealing with global conflict. Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams defines peace as, “A wimpy spineless non alternative to global problems. Peace is not the vision of a rainbow with a dove flying over it. It’s hard work in millions of different ways to make the world a better place for everybody.” Williams started ICBL in 1991, thanks to the Vietnam Veterans, to remove the “eternal soldier” from all future battles. This was at the end of the Soviet Union and there was hope in the world to make everything safer. Banning landmines was a global expression of possibility of a better world. Change is only possible when you are the future you want to see. She concludes with, “There’s nothing magical about change.”
Sir Humphrey Davy once said, “Fortunately science, like that nature to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor by space; it belongs to the world and is of no country and of no age.” Ahmed Zewail, pioneer in Femtochemistry, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999. Curiosity and his search for knowledge drove him to study the change of matter its influence on the manipulation of cells at the atomic level. This influences the understanding of diseases and atomic level surgery. As the individual of many cultures, Zewail tells Pipkin that all religions are about being a good human being, following your God, being faithful, and the emphasis on knowledge; “The key to tolerate cultures is to learn how to build bridges between humans, a bridge between cultures, and to build bridges between nations; not to use a slogan of conflict of civilizations and conflict of religion.”
“When you look at the world and all the fights and all the wars that have been fought always look at the source that has been degrading,” says Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2004 Wangari Maathai. “Sources are a very important ingredient to promoting peace.” Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya to help the people solve their problems they were causing themselves. Women began to plant trees and transformed their degrading environment into a developing paradise. With persistence, the people gained confidence and courage to do things for themselves, because in order to create a state without war and a stable environment people need to work and want change.
Hope is not completely lost, or is it? People can change their world with work and effort, but Sir Joseph Rotblat discusses the nuclear threat that still remains. Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1995 identifies five nations that have declared nuclear weapon possession: Britain, China, Emirate States, Russia, and the United States. However, India, Israel, and Pakistan also have nuclear arms. Nuclear weapons “don’t keep us safe” and as long as they exist “sooner or later they will be used.” If the world can only be safe by complete disarmament, how will the world find peace?
With reason, solutions are derived. In Calcutta, Professor Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize in Economics, 1998) is part of a world where simple acts of devotion connect people with one another. School is innovative and devised to learn about the whole world: poverty is a vulnerability and those who are poor will die hungry and lack of health care will raise the fear of insecurity of dying from untreated diseases. Sen tells Pipkin that the more people are different in their ways, more similarities pop up. The world is classified differently depending on the criteria being used because we are all “diversely diverse.” Development is a momentous engagement with freedom responsibilities with an optimistic view of the future.
So either we get rid of the world or nuclear weapons. Science tells us how to achieve certain things if you want to achieve them, but cannot tell you how you ought to do them. We have to show the world that we care and show enlightened self-interest for policies and conditions. Science programs are linked to improving health. There is an unimaginable level of institutional resistance to the changes that will have to be made. We cannot escape the moral choice. It is not good enough to just say we ought to do this. Every act we take on this planet contributes one way or another to an outcome. We have to utilize resources to enhance the role of rational thinking in the world. Democracy is public reasoning and there is no reason why knowledge that is reliable is not for all to look at. How will the world find peace? It doesn’t have to be this way – a future of destruction.
Love and forgiveness are capacities of human beings. Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. When we do what we think is charitable is not anything more than our obligation as family members. All humans are family and we need to use the budget of death and destruction for food and water for our family who is in need. Tutu reminds us that we want our enemies to be God’s enemies. One nation cannot survive alone. One nation cannot stop the war on terrorism without the collaboration of others. “God takes the side of the vulnerable, the weak, the hungry, and the voiceless.”
“What you do, where you are, is of significance,” says Turk Pipkin. “It may be simple to find peace but it is not going to be easy.” Turk Pipkin did an excellent job interviewing just the right people to get a point across. I enjoy observing other people who challenge themselves to change the world, however large or small the outcome. Everyone discusses openly and to the point what we as a global community can do to promote positive outcomes for future generations. Dislikes from the film would be the lack of subtitles for individuals with heavy accents and limited personal background about the interviewed Nobels. It would have been nice to watch the film and not have to replay pieces of it to understand what they were saying and I would have appreciated gaining more personal background from the interviewed in order to understand how they got to the present state they are in now. There really is hope for the world, now all we have to do, as Jody Williams said, “[Is] getting up off your ass and caring enough to take the first step to contribute to change on an issue you care about.” We can be the future we want to be. World peace is impossible for some, but simply a challenge for others. Nothing is solved over night. Change requires hard work and persistence. We must challenge the disparities in life and make a decision. Using knowledge over time with persistence to bring change will give people reason to love. Now all that’s left is to begin, and I plan on trying to making a difference, even if all I manage is spreading a an unforgettable message that one day someone will remember and start a call for action.
Melanie E Magdalena