Hans Rosling

Now, Not Later.

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Photo of Hans Rosling: Challenging people’s preconceived ideas (TED)

“If you could live forever, would you?” This is the opening question in an exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Larry King.

An interview between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Larry King, shared by my friend Nat, and originally posted by an intriguing personality and photographer called Hicham Bennir.

“The urgency of accomplishment, the need to express love, now, not later.” This statement was the reason for doing given by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He goes onto say that “the knowledge that I am going to die that creates the focus to being alive.”

Here is the interview here:

I thought those comments were poignant in the wake of hearing news that I listened to Hans Rosling had died.

I never met Hans in person. Maybe you have never heard of him until today. Hans was and remains an inspirational person who shaped my thinking on the journey that became the 10 City Bridge Run. Back in 2010, he wrote to me with these comments:

I wish you good luck Matt.
The seemingly impossible is indeed often possible, but be aware that the impossible is impossible. It takes a lot of wisdom to see the differance between the impossible and the seemingly impossible. We follow you with interest!
Hans Rosling (17 September 2010)

Those words from him were a source of great motivation. It was in the early days of this epic quest in which I had undertook to run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities in 10 countries. The purpose of the running was to create a stunt that might allow a conversation to be opened. That conversation was to focus on a question asking: “How might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

In fact for the last few weeks, I have been meaning to get back into this blog, because this year I intend to finally convene these conversations which now have taken a broader view beyond just child survival to consider the larger issue of the Sustainable Development Goals. I had in the back of my mind the thought that I could report back to Hans with news of a completed journey after the conversation had been joined.

Now, it is not possible to share this news with Hans, but the conversation must still continue. Hans’ legacy will be seen in many different ways. The renewed motivation to pick up this challenge is but one small expression of that.

To recap, here are some thoughts from Hans:

Here is Hans speaking at a recent TED event with his son Ola.

We can’t afford to wait until “the right time” to do stuff. And more importantly, delaying is costly when it comes to a better world. We must act now.

Thanks for the inspiration, Hans.

I’m back with a fresh resolve, continuing this journey. It’s time to be the difference that makes a difference. Now, not later.

Let’s get to work.


Crossing the River of Myth

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The avuncular Hans Rosling was back recently staunchly arguing why child mortality is more readily overcome now than ever before. He shows that it is our dated perspective mistakenly informed through myth we cling to that which holds us back. We are closer to a solution than we think or know.

Let Hans tell the story himself below:

Change your thinking: it is a matter of perspective

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Hans Rosling at TED
Hans Rosling at TED (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The avuncular Hans Rosling joins us again to explain where the focus on child mortality ought to be placed across the world’s 7 billion people, and whether tackling this issue will make a difference.

In his idiosyncratic way to craft a story that is as simple as it is engaging, he presents one of the most pressing and complex problems very clearly.

His message: Yes, there is hope for the future! We can make a difference in this lifetime to child mortality.

He does leave us with one request: change your thinking. Stop thinking about developed and developing countries, because it is unhelpful in focusing on those people where the real need is found.

Good message to reflect on next time you go to grab a coffee mug: we can make a difference.

Winning the war against child mortality

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The foundation's logo

The Loveable and Avuncular Hans Rosling returns to give another outstanding TED Talk about how we are winning the war against child mortality.

Hans is a brilliant communicator and makes the complex simple. This 15 minute is worth watch to move beyond theory and understand how progress has been made.


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Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke


Hans Rosling, the intellectual heavyweight and Professor of Global Health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, wrote a really encouraging comment a few weeks ago on this blog. I thought I would share it here:

I wish you good luck Matt.
The seemingly impossible is indeed often possible, but be aware that the impossible is impossible. It takes a lot of wisdom to see the difference between the impossible and the seemingly impossible. We follow you with interest!
Hans Rosling

All too often, statements have been made then expectations failed about what was thought as possible. Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1987 famously stated that

“…by 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty”

This has not been achieved, especially on many remote Indigenous communities. This comment should not be used for cheap political point scoring or neither used to judge the performance of Mr Hawke. In 2007 he claimed it was among his biggest regrets in his political life.

We should take Hans’ caution seriously. Do we have the wisdom to discern what is in fact impossible? And how do we then navigate the path forward past failed expectations?

Already, many of the Millennium Development Goals appear to be closer to impossible than possible. “Hope dims for universal education by 2015”. Can we arrest child mortality as one target to achieve?

Should we prepare ourselves now for a more realistic outcome in 2015? Is there more we can all do to change the situation in some small way? The disappointment at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen in 2009 was significant. A different issue to extreme poverty. How will we respond when the Millennium Development Goals are accounted for in 2015?

What is impossible?

The Number One Most Important Reason To Address Extreme Poverty of All Time

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Professor Hans Rosling visited the Swedish pav...
Professor Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling again has caught my imagination. This time thanks to my good friend from Sydney, Arlyn Santos, for bringing this to my attention.

This is so important, I think you should know about it as well: The Number One Most Important Reason To Address Extreme Poverty of All Time. (Whew! That’s a mouthful!)

So what is it? I think the answer is in this TED Talk. Watch it below here:

What did you learn? Did you agree with Hans? Over-simplified, or genius? The reason to address extreme poverty? Unless we do this, the ‘Bottom Billion’ will become the ‘Bottom Four Billion’ sewing the seeds to an unsustainable planet, resulting in war, starvation and global crisis which are now unimaginable.

So what can we do about it? This is a question I am exploring through the 10 City Bridge Run- a creative process of inquiry.

Crowdfunded, you can support with a $24 sponsorship. The money goes toward the production of a book titled “Above the Line” to be presented as a pictorial petition to the G20 Summit in Seoul. If you are sponsor, you also receive a copy (electronic for $24 sponsorship, printed display book for $240). What makes the book special: it will contain 24,000 photographs of people making a bridge between themselves and other people.

Be the difference that makes a difference. Sponsor us today. Thanks for your support!

Impossibly possible!

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Hans Rosling at TED
Hans Rosling at TED

Thanks to my mate Scott Thompson in New York from Intersections International who gave me this perspective of something, like a crazy global endurance challenge being “impossibly possible”.

But let’s go back to the data and see how reframing a situation with information can achieve.

Hans Rosling used statistical data presented on a bubble graph to change how we might understand the world we live in. He makes the complex simple, and a brilliance for changing our worldview.

Is he right?

And hear what he has to say about the seemingly impossible being possible. Thanks to Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty Project for sharing this with me and discussing this perspective.

Hans Rosling provides proof! The seemingly impossible is possible.

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Now and again you come across one of those people who somehow makes the complex simple, and in doing so can turn our assumptions on their head. Hans Rosling, hailing from Sweden makes an interesting twist to how we might perceive development and poverty.

This TED talk from 2007 is worth watching. It was Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty Project who put me onto this information, as I was discussing my intention of doing this run many months ago. He suggested that this question: “Is the seemingly impossible possible?” was worth asking.

In five years the 2o15 deadline arrives for reporting on the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

How can we best use the information and framing that Hans presents to change our own perspective?

Was this useful for you or just an amusing presentation?