BY EILEEN GORDON
At age 73, Ted Turner may be the best he has ever been. He is articulate, philosophical and, perhaps, a kinder and gentler Ted than ever before. But, let there be no doubt, he’s as sharp as a razor and focused on the future. His remarkable life has included many failures as well as mammoth successes, and he has learned from every part of the process.
Turner is a perpetual student, learning chapter and verse about anything that’s important to him. He’s a natural born statistician and the numbers he provides off the top of his head on everything from family planning to prairie dogs are astonishing.
CHAMPION OF UNPOPULAR CAUSES OR THE ULTIMATE PRAGMATIST?
Every right-thinking person on earth would love to see the abolition of nuclear weapons from the planet, a cure for cancer and AIDS and malaria in Third World countries, to know that everyone has access to clean water and decent food, and to protect the earth itself from becoming a huge landfill. These are lofty goals to say the least, however most philanthropists do not get involved with global quests of this magnitude because they seem overwhelming, insoluble and unattainable. Ted Turner is not most people. And he has not fostered these goals unadvisedly.
Disenchanted with the scandal and greed associated with mainstream American politics, Turner’s approach to problem-solving seems to be more direct, side-stepping the governmental agencies and systems to get to the source of his goals. He has a philanthropic soul and has always been an incredibly generous benefactor. His most astounding single grant was $1 billion to form the United Nations Foundation which works in concert with the United Nations, the international agency whose goal is to serve global humanitarian needs through verbal, non-violent resolutions.
Turner is a big believer in the power of conversation as evidenced by the think tanks and brain trusts that he participates in. He believes that when you gather the greatest minds on the planet and the greatest specialists on a particular subject, you have the best chance of solving problems. Turner has created and belongs to a number of these groups to tackle each goal he is committed to. He explains, “I do a lot of listening which is not necessarily a lot of agreeing. I give a great deal of thought to all important decisions.”
Turner currently owns two million acres of land which he initially acquired to expand his herd of bison.
For over 30 years Turner has been a champion advocate of renewable and sustainable sources of power. He is adamant that we replace our 200-year dependence on oil, foreign and domestic, with clean renewables including solar, wind and geothermal. It is remarkable how much progress is now being made in these areas that he has been advocating for so long!