We are faced with a very profound question: What is the right thing to do? As citizens in a democracy, we are asked to support this question or fight that one. But what are the right positions to take?

We are faced with tribal political parties and media coverage owned by a very few corporate interests and that generally covers only the horse race of political contests rather than nuanced policy questions. Most important decisions today are left to the private sector, led by corporate interests where the profit motive reigns supreme and the time horizon is the next quarterly report. With the increasing complexity of many questions, people cling to positions taken by founding fathers, religious leaders, or other authorities from ages past rather than considering the questions anew.

Our world today is driven by science and technological advances. Educators stress the need for STEM education — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Far too often, however, these disciplines are wielded not for the benefit of all mankind and the world as a whole, but instead to benefit a few while depleting resources and polluting the environment. If something can be done at a profit, then it likely will be done, until the resource is fully depleted or it is no longer profitable. The question should not be, “Can it be done?” or “Can we profit from this?” but “Is this really the right thing to do?”

To be able to truly answer this question requires not just an understanding of the underlying science, but also the context of the rest of the world. The advances of science into the realms of nuclear energy, genetic engineering, and climate science leave many people in the dust, forcing them to rely on either trusting the corporate leaders or falling back to rules of thumb or religious authority.

The challenge therefore, of Earth Summit, is to bring together minds to develop a comprehension of the issues before us and the context within which they exist, and then to create a set of criteria to inform our support of leaders and legislation in a nonpartisan basis. The result of each Earth Summit should be a set of statements to the public regarding the support or opposition to each issue and how each might be advanced.

Indeed, this is an experiment. Can humans engage rationally and without in-fighting and tribal ties to develop and advance such an important agenda? Please join us in this important endeavor.