Here is one of the keys to our impact. Consider some numbers: the American Chemical Society has over 160,000 members; the American Medical Association has over 360,000 members. Suppose we assume that there are a like number in the rest of the world. That amounts to about one million people, professional people, educated people. Now consider all the other occupations that are necessarily involved in accomplishing our goals, for it is not just science and medicine that solves humanitarian problems. Many other activities are involved, from accounting to distribution to plumbing to information management to diplomacy to law to architecture, etc. (Another opportunity to stress that Chemists Without Borders is not just for chemists: “If all you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail.” Some of the most exciting stuff comes from the interface between unlike and improbable things.) That’s a lot of people.
One important point is that these millions of people are all connected to one another through their professional organizations and other relationships, and indeed there is nobody in our profession, whom we could do not reach in the six steps described referred to in the Washington Post article. We can reach anywhere on the planet just in our own profession never mind all the other people we know. One of the things that makes the Information Age so exciting is that we can capitalize on all these connections much more easily than people could do in the past. Networking is in. Social networking is a phenomenon unseen before. We have an opportunity that others do not have. The American chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world. We uniquely positioned to connect people to address problems. Chemists Without Borders is devoted to seeing that happen.