I just read the Global Risks 2009 report from the World Economic Forum. It details the breadth of risks faced by the entire globe in addition to full descriptions of new and emerging risks such as global governance gaps. It also, with some hints to their algorithms & methodology in Appendix II, plots the risks based on likelihood and severity (in terms of dollars and/or lives lost). Finally, it shows the interconnectedness of such risks with a good little link analysis diagram, where thickness of the connectors depict the strength of connection.
It’s a good (but lengthy) read for anyone trying to understand the state of the world, and a good follow-up to Obama’s speech last night. He mentioned several of these risks and this report surely helps contextualize the risk network. In a sense, no one problem can be solved independently, but must be considered in conjunction with several other problems.

With regards to Obama’s speech in general, I’d like to focus on the optimism posed in his closing remarks. I love the ending and think it should resonate throughout his presidency and beyond:

“We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency and a determination that perseveres, a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do — if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.” Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”

Great finish, Obama. As an added point, the line about starting and finishing every debate with the acknowledgement of common goals and foundations should especially resonate all over. In a classroom, soccer field, corporation, or on the street – there is always some common goal, foundation, or bond that should keep everyone together. Whether this is what Newton was describing with his Law of Universal Gravitation between two masses, who knows.

“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
– Niels Bohr