The real core of problems

<p>I think a congratulation is in order &ndash; to the American people and to planet Earth. Finally, the US gets a president who over some time has understood that we have some big problems: 'Change we can believe in'. One of the big issues, I think, is global climate change <span style="color: #008080;">(more on this on <a href="http://www.realclimate.org">RealClimate.org</a>)</span>.<br /><br />What is the real reason for the anthropogenic global warming (AGW)? Yes, CO2, other greenhouse gases, pollution and landscape changes! But the reason why CO2 is rising in the first place? The answer is perhaps obvious: technological progress, economic and population growth. Basically, it's a side effect from a good thing: progress!<br /><br />Are we in for a 'Faustian deal' then? The oil has been a blessing, since it has lifted <span style="color: #008080;">(parts of)</span> mankind up from misery. But perhaps it also has a curse attached to it? I mean for the lucky ones who have benefited from increased welfare <span style="color: #008080;">(yes, it probably has been a curse for exploited people in exploited countries, but that goes without saying and I don't see that rich nations cares about that and never has)</span>.<br /><br />So the driving force behind the present anthropogenic warming seems to be the hunger for riches and wealth. Or a combination of a population growth and energy demand. <br /><br />But isn't the quest for more wealth exactly the same reason why we see the financial downturn too? The greed, short-sightedness, and lack of regulations ... and allowing for large bonuses, financial speculations and sub-prime loans - factors <!-- @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } TT { font-family: "DejaVu Sans Mono", monospace } <tt--> exacerbating the global warming?<br /><br />In other words, the current economic crisis and the looming environmental problems stem from the same core issue: Human nature and lack of foresight.<br /><br />Is it a law of nature that humans constantly and unrelentingly want to get richer and more wealth? So, when do we reach our goal? Or when is the 'mission accomplished', as some people put it? Let me rephrase the question: when will we be content? <br /><br />Perhaps we never get 'there'...?<br /><br />If we go for the everlasting growth idea, we know for sure that sometime in the future someone will be in for a nasty surprise. The secret is: it's physically not possible. <br /><br />I think this concept was well-captured in the children's picture Wall-E <span style="color: #008080;">(</span><span style="color: #008080;">by Pixar, which I consider to be one of the most brilliant present-day cultural undertaking!)</span>.<br /><br />There is a set of physics laws, that even the US president cannot violate: the conservation of mass and energy. Material goods are not like money &ndash; they cannot be multiplied indefinitely by printing more notes or adding zeros to the back of the numbers.<br /><br />So perhaps we have to settle for society in equilibrium and harmony. If so, the question is: When do we get to this point? <br /><br />There appears to be several obstacles to a society in equilibrium <span style="color: #008080;">(some may find it dull, besides)</span> that have to be broken down before we reach this stage: a fair distribution of wealth <span style="color: #008080;">(north-south difference must be eliminated)</span>, a <span style="color: #008080;">(really)</span> transparent economy and power structure <span style="color: #008080;">(abolish tax havens and shady lobbyists)</span>, extinction of conflicts <span style="color: #008080;">(e.g. not allow profiteers from arms/conflicts)</span>, and an enhancement education on a global level <span style="color: #008080;">(sciences &amp; maths, the environment, health, economy, geography, cultures, history, social sciences and philosophy)</span>.<br /><br />If this is our goal, then how can we get there? Perhaps with better international cooperation? Strengthen the UN, ICC <span style="color: #008080;">(the international crime court)</span>, and give them a real mandate. Re-new their organisation, and expose political charades. Make them more transparent.<br /><br />Another angle is to make the press able <span style="color: #008080;">(and willing)</span> to critically report on the important issues. The media has spectacularly failed to uncover critical conditions on at least three counts in the last 5 years: the lack of WMD in Iraq, the state of the dikes around New Orleans, and the financial crisis have taken them by surprise both times - despite the obvious evidence <span style="color: #008080;">(i.e. Hans Blixt and concern expressed by some economists about debt in the recent years)</span>. Other failures over the last 10 years is the failure of thoroughly exposing African conflicts and the anti-Kyoto lobby and many of the climate sceptics.<br /><br />The media has a great deal of power, but none are checking them, unlike the checks and balances imposed on other authorities. We need a media watchdog.&nbsp; Perhaps there is also a need to create alternatives to huge multi-national news corporations, whose task really seem to be to make money for their share holders? <br /> <br />We also need to make an assessment of where we stand and where we want to go before setting the future course. And perhaps we need to look old philosophical questions before staking out the course for the future development, such as the meaning of life. Or simply asking: What are our visions for Utopia?<br /><br />The world hopes that 'The White House' - which soon no longer will have that name in a double meaning - will make a big difference to the world. But the new president needs help of everyone to help the US, the American people and everyone on this planet. <br /><br />From where I stand, it looks like Barack Obama will have to give the world problems a broadside, dealing with a wide spectre of aspects simultaneously (<span style="color: #008080;">conflicts, economy, environment, water supplies, food security, energy, crime, justice, prejudice and discrimination)</span> and at many different levels <span style="color: #008080;">(from philosophical and scientific to more practical and mundane)</span>. The time is over for rhetorics. Now is the time to get to the core of our problems: our selves. We all must contribute and help our children, parents, friends, neighbours and our leaders. I hope we all will step in and help Obama to make our planet a better place for our children.</p>
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