Friday, January 18, 2019



“Not-so-fun fact,” Samantha Lazlo says as we sit in her London office, “if your country, the great U.S.A., was totally isolated from the rest of the world, then the average citizen would be living like the average world citizen in 2023, four years after the population maxes out if we all continue business-as-usual.” She stifles a laugh as my jaw drops. “That’s the price of isolation.”

I have been chosen by the international press pool to report on the activities of STRIDE’s Strategy Integration group from the inside as its members tie together inputs from each national strategy development group. Lazlo leads its Overview team, which is tasked with summarizing the overall strategy so it can be voted on by political leadership upon completion.

“Interaction is key to success,” Lazlo explains. “That will be embodied in a treaty derived from the strategy so it has the weight of law in case there are any disputes during execution, as there clearly will be.” She started the discussion of isolation when we got the news that a faction of Congress was arguing that the country should take the resulting strategy as a suggestion only. “The world can’t afford to have any rogue states picking and choosing what they want without agreement with all the rest who will be affected by it. We’ve identified a majority of scenarios where that would lead to something like what we have now, which is unacceptable.”

“What can you do about it?” I ask, and realize immediately what a stupid question it is. “Of course,” I recover, “the enforcement provisions of the declaration as an overarching treaty must handle that.”

Lazlo’s expression is unreadable. “They should, but any nation strong enough and determined enough can theoretically get out of it. That would result in isolation, which is a problem if it wanted that all along. Which is why everyone needs to be convinced of the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’ of our response to the extinction threat, so they believe what’s likely to happen to them even if they’re successful.”

“That’s why I’m here, isn’t it?”

She smiles as if I’ve discovered a hidden gift. “Yes. For the next three days you can follow me around and I’ll show you those answers. If you’re convinced afterward, then you’ll have a good chance of convincing others. Call it a little extra insurance.”

Reality Check

I am not a journalist, but I play one on a blog. After a three-day break, I will report on what I “saw” while shadowing Lazlo.

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