The developed nations of the world have to realize that our world needs global and not just local stability and that requires a global strategy.
Global stability can become reality only if there will be global equilibrium — equitable distribution of wealth and income worldwide — where the income of the developing countries is substantially improved, both in absolute terms and also relative to the developed nations.
With our current bad habits, would we be able to save our planet! African nuclear scientist Jamal.S.Shrair throws light on this very pertinent issue of the day and warns on where to we are heading.
by Jamal S. Shrair
The present environmental crisis was triggered by the industrial revolution. As the industrial age started to progress the problem became visible, but it was simply ignored. From the beginning of the industrial revolution until the last two decades of the 20th century, we paid no attention to the pollution of our common home. The only important things were maximum profit and minimum loss, industrial expansion, especially that of the military industries which served the aims of colonialism, irrational ideological struggle, hegemony, power politics, etc.
The lack of a rational economic order is certainly the primary cause of the problem:
The resources of the planet are unwisely exploited, the motivation being to make as much profit as possible within the shortest possible time, while waste is being dumped wherever it is the cheapest to do so, such as in the oceans. There is no doubt that with a small fraction of what we have already wasted from the resources of the planet, the entire present world population could have prospered and enjoyed a very high standard of living if only we possessed – and practised – a higher level of social consciousness than we have done in the past one hundred years. As an example, the total military expenditure in the USA and former USSR in the 1980s alone (!) reached one trillion USD.
Now, however, there are urgent steps which should be taken to ameliorate the environmental crisis. Firstly, productive methods and activities, including the way of life in all advanced and the developing nations must change. We still only have this planet to live on, which has a finite space and mostly non-renewable resources. The earth cannot provide an unlimited number of individuals with a good material life. Therefore, irrational material growth and unrestricted demographic growth ultimately imply a lower standard of living. Secondly, population growth in the developing countries which the developed countries also worry about, must slow down and may be finally stopped altogether, aided by increased economic prosperity.
In our time, market forces should play a secondary role, not a primary one. We cannot afford to let them operate freely, because the environmental issue is outside the interest and the domain of the market forces. Local and global planning is what we need and should be the priority. Long-term goals must be specified and short-term goals made consistent with them.
The specification of production techniques, entailing the materials used, must meet environmental protection requirements. In other words, an integrated technological program to protect our environment must be put into practice so that we can attack the problems, not retroactively, but proactively by thinking about waste before thinking about production.
There is a crying need for new technologies, different materials, new laws and regulations, strictly implemented by local governments. We have to encourage the development of, and investment in, environmentally friendly power, regardless of the costs.
But, we must not give undue weight to the possibility of scientific and technological advances alone when it comes to solving the problems of the environment. Such developments would probably come too late to avert environmental disasters: in the final analysis, any technological advances would merely delay crisis, rather than avoid it, if no fundamental changes in the values of society were to take place. The issue requires more than technical solutions.
THE BIG POLLUTERS
The biggest polluters in the world, are also the ones who hold both the political power and the practical tools for solving most of the basic problems related to the issue of the environment in their countries and the world as a whole. Yet, they are also the ones who are not yet willing to implement or even sign any environmental agreement.
Those biggest polluters do not want to cut their poisonous gas emissions even to the same level as some developing countries. The target they set for their poisonous gas emissions cuts (or rather, the one they promise) is absolutely worth nothing since most environmental scientists have stated clearly that if the degradation of the environment is to stop, then at least a 50% reduction is required of the world’s total emissions.
Instead, therefore, worldwide emissions are still rising.
Those nations are well known, and include all members of the United Nations Security Council. They therefore have a veto power on anything decided by other nations, even if the entire world was to unite around a resolution, as often happens in the General Assembly, it is overturned in the so-called Security Council.
After almost two hundred years of capital accumulation — to a great extent as the result of exploitations and colonization — the developed countries want the developing countries, who are victims of those rich countries pollution, to stop developing their economies! They also expect those developing nations who are now going through the same industrial process as that undergone by the now-developed countries (e.g. China, India, Brazil) to do it in costly and environmentally-friendly fashion, and without the cushion of wealth that colonialism and neo-colonialism gave those now-wealthy nations.
“Get rid of your buses so that the developed countries can have more cars!” they cry, whilst hiding from all environmental statistics the pollution caused by their own Military Industrial Complex which has waged huge wars in many parts of the world, causing untold environmental disaster. Can that not be called the new imperialism?
It would be more accurate to call it self-destructive imperialism, because in a few decades, the degradation of the environment will affect advanced countries just as much as developing ones. The Lobbyist groups of the bourgeoisie of the big polluting nations and the industrialists argue that the environmental issue is exaggerated and it is beyond human control (not man-made!), and they also claim that if there were fundamental changes in society, productivity and output would decrease, which is not in the interest of the people.
Thus, finding a real solution to the environmental crisis under the present economic order is a hopeless task. All these conferences and summits are nothing more than a show business. Even if binding climate agreements can be achieved at these summits they would not be either effective or practically implemented. For example, where is the Kyoto Protocol now? The USA signed it, and Bush upon election, tore it up.
NEW SOCIO ECONOMIC ORDER
It is now becoming increasingly clear every passing day that the present socio-economic order cannot solve the basic problems of our time whether they be social, political or environmental problems. Even the material progress that has been achieved under capitalism is not uniformly distributed at the national or international levels. The absolute majority of humanity is still destitute, living in absolute poverty. More than three billion people live on less than two USD a day. And another one billion is on the brink of starvation. Around 50,000 children die EACH DAY, unreported by the news media.
There would be no harmonious development in any region of the world if one believed one needed only to take consideration of narrow economic questions. The present economic crisis and the financial volatility in the world markets are further proofs that Laissez-faire politics alone is not enough to help developing countries or even developed ones. Therefore, the basic principle that laissez-faire is not a correct policy in our time has established itself. There will be further crashes, turmoil and catastrophes if social and ecological questions are not taken into consideration.
The global situation is deteriorating dangerously: there are a number of crises confronting mankind, such as rapid population growth in the third world and rising food prices accelerated by diversion of production of food crops toward bio-fuel crops, deteriorating environment, widespread misery, malnutrition, depletion of non-renewable energy resources and escalating military conflicts in different parts of the world. Though the many proxy wars of the past have come to an end, these have been replaced by a few large scale direct military operations, mainly by the U.S. and its allies.
All these major issues are fundamentally interlinked and depend upon each other. More importantly, the severity of these crises is increasing with time and these crises are in a process of interaction where they might well produce unexpected catastrophes.
The developed nations of the world have to realize that our world needs global and not just local stability and that requires a global strategy. Global stability can become reality only if there will be global equilibrium — equitable distribution of wealth and income worldwide — where the income of the developing countries is substantially improved, both in absolute terms and also relative to the developed nations.
Otherwise, the huge gaps and inequalities in today’s world between the developed and developing countries will continue to grow larger. The outcome in a few decades will be nothing less than a total and irreversible disaster. The global system can no longer tolerate such selfish behaviour, irrational and unrestricted material growth in one section of the planet which is inhabited by only 20% or less of the present world population.
Therefore, we must question the economic model that exists today in the advanced countries, and whether it can be copied by the developing countries in order to develop their economies and reach the same standard of living. This is really a rhetorical question, because this model has been imposed and also it is a precondition not only by the multinational corporations that want to invest in developing countries but also by the “International Monetary Fund / World Bank” for granting loans.
However, a theoretical model showed that if the present world population will reach a Gross National Product per capita equal to that of present-day U.S. Americans, with the same economic model the total pollution load on the environment would be more than 20 times its present values. Can the natural systems of the earth support an intrusion of that magnitude?
There can be no doubt even in the mind of the most conservative capitalist that the present economic order has not only failed to prevent or even brought about the outbreak of wars and conflicts among and within the nations of the world, where peace and security should necessarily reign in order to insure the basic requirements for real social development and fundamental human rights, but that this system has also failed miserably to protect our beautiful planet Earth from the dangers of different kinds of pollutions by not creating and maintaining harmony between nature and development.
The secret of nature in all its forms is where the future of the world lies, and if we destroy it due to the absence of a rational economic and social order, we destroy the future of life on earth.
The writer, an MSc in High Energy Physics & PhD in Surface Physics and Electron Devices at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, has written a paper entitled “Can Solid-State Nuclear Fusion Reactor Be the Ultimate Green Energy Solution?” which can be downloaded here[.doc].
YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT