Adelaide, Monday, September 1998 Metropolitan edition www.news.com.au Phone (08) 8206 200 70 cents
Saving the world
An international, non-governments organization,endorsed by world leaders, is teaching students the benefits of global cooperation. Rod Savage reports.
The earth is dead. Overpopulation, nuclear waste, deforestation, the greenhouse effected all have destroyed the world. One small patch - the size of a tiny country -has remained immune. With limited resources, it cannot remain self-sufficient for long. Survivors from other countries need help. While all have some resources, none has enough to survive.
Thankfully, this is only a hypothetical scenario school students need to solve. This World Game scenario is put to them by representatives of an organization called GENI ( Global Energy Network Institute), a world wide movement committed to helping solve many of the world's problems by encouraging cooperation.
Put simply, GENI proposes that the world pool its electrical resources into a giant grid - the largest international engineering project ever proposed. The projected results paint a picture of a better planet.
The Grid would supplement the oil, coal and nuclear-generated power plants with such renewable, nonpolluting power sources as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.
According to GENI, the grid would: Dramatically reduce pollution by weaning the world off polluting fuels.
Help feed Their World nations by providing them with affordable electricity. This would also allow for cleaner water and the removal of raw sewage and waste.
Connect nations into a common economic network and create a worldwide network of trading partners.
But can such a simple idea be dismissed as a native search for a utopian world? The world wide president of GENI, Peter Meisen, assures us all aspect have been thoroughly researched.
"We are not the only people proposing this strategy," he has told THE Advertiser from GENI's headquarters in San Diego, in the United States.
"This project was born from very serious question posed by Bucky Fuller (the date DR R. Buckminster Fuller, a US scientist) more than 30 years ago.
Mr. Meisen, who attends peace and energy conferences around the world, says the ideals of GENI are already being implemented.
Spain and Morocco share a grid, as do Thailand and Malaysia, Chile and Argentina, Turkey and Iran, and it is being considered by India and Pakistan.
He doubts, however, that a global decision to network power will be made in his lifetime.
"GENI has a very long-range strategy that will take decades to fully implement," he says.
"Governments have very short time horizons - the next election. They think their responsibility for energy security often stops at their border. But governments do embrace the GENI concept."
As does Vera Ubaldi. The coordinator of the SA branch of GENI was sold on the idea after traveling the world and seeing , first hand, many of the seemingly unsolvable problems it has.
She now volunteers her time and goes to schools to educate students with the World Game.
"What happened in the early years was that everyone was really excited by GENI, but they expected miracles," she says.
"They expected suddenly all governments of the world would understand this is the way to go and everything would change. But human nature doesn't work that way."
Mr. Meisen agrees and therefore recognizes the importance of educating young people about the ideas GENI presented.
"Students today will be in the engineers and bankers who build the new infrastructure,'' he says. " They are also less burdened by(politics)— and can often see this solution better than adults— because we are talking about a World Wide Web of electricity."
And if there's one thing the students of today understand, it's the letters WWW.
Learning tough lessons
The Global Energy Network Institute recently visited Woodcroft Primary School. Because students are not allowed to give away the details of the World Game they played, here they simply share what they learned from GENI's visit.
The volunteers came to talk to us and help us become more aware of what is happening in our world today. GENI... is trying to help children become more aware of what has happened o the world and what we can do to change it. I found what they told us heartbreaking and although I already knew that I was lucky that the country I lived in was not suffering from starvation and disease, I felt hopeful when GENI told us their solution to save the world.
Cheryl Bryson, Year 7
The volunteers taught about the use of global energy and the importance of recycling. They taught us how to look out after our planet and are renewable energy. They also played a great game with us that taught us the value of teamwork and cooperation. The volunteers even gave up half a day's paid work to come and speak to us and I think they got the message through to us very clearly.
Joshua Clifford, Year 7
I learned a lot about worldwide energy usage and that the current energy usage is very damaging to ozone layer and the environment. Thermal and solar power must, at some stage, be used because it is-ending and is environmentally. These 15 people came to our school to try to spread the word about energy and its pollution of the world's environment. The GENI volunteers made a good presentation and I think that everyone learned at least a couple of important facts about the earth's energy and its amount of pollution.
Andrew Hughes, Year 7