The Grand Alliance: Solving Environmental Problems of the Earth

 

Mark Whigham

September 07

whig@uga.edu

 

 

††††††††††?One of the most serious issues the world will have to deal with is the ever growing environmental problems.?The situation is worsened by the existence of many countries that are still not democratic, especially when these non democratic countries are capitalists.?People have only recently begun to understand the negative environmental impact caused by human activity since the Industrial Revolution, as a result of mass capitalism and mass consumerism mixed with intense population growth.?Aside from the most common argument of global warming, which is at least partially caused by humans, there are a list of other environmental concerns that directly affect the health and the future of our population.?Water pollution, water scarcity, air pollution, and desertification are all environmental issues that are directly caused by human activity that can be avoided.?When these problems are mixed with the growing population of the world, they become issues that need to be dealt with immediately.

††††††††††?In countries that face these environmental problems, it is fair to say that a democratic government is fit to handle these grave problems most efficiently.?It will take a Grand Alliance, integrating the democracies of the world, to come together and face these complex issues.?Only will the alliance and cooperation of the most powerful democracies in the world be able to pressure countries, specifically China into addressing their environmental problems.?And only will the alliance of democracies be able to keep one another in line enforcing these rules set by an international environmental agency.?Furthermore, only the influence of democracy and capitalism around the world will allow poor nations to rise out of poverty and control their rising population growth.? While it is difficult to say that the United States should be the example for environmentalism around the world, it is reasonable to assume that the United States is better than China.?Moreover, it is safe to assume that an alliance of democracies would be better than an authoritarian country that is not doing what is best for its population.?The democratic countries would be able pressure one another to follow strict environmental regulations.

 

 

Background:?Industrial Revolution/Population Growth

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††††††††††?Before the Industrial Revolution, there were less than a billion people on the planet.?Generally these people only consumed what they could use and what was needed.?And if they consumed more than what they could use or what was needed, it was not significant enough to have a negative impact on the ecosystem of the planet.? The Industrial Revolution provided new technologies that allowed people to produce and consume at a very quick rate.? This opened the doors for a mass capitalism and mass consumerism ideology.?Based on these two ideologies, producers and consumers alike were encouraged to produce and consume as much as possible for the market to grow.?In 1830, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, the population of the world had reached one billion people (populationinstitute.org).?At this point, the Earth was perfectly capable of sustaining that kind of abuse that capitalism caused.?Unfortunately, no one predicted the drastic increase in population that was to occur in the next 200 years.?And no one envisioned the amount of damage that this many people could cause to the planet.?

††††††††††?The CIA estimated in July 2007, the world has a population of 6.6 billion people (CIA.gov).? The UN projects that this number could grow to 8.9 billion people by 2050.?This UN projection was based on recent population growth trends; however, if the population growth rate returns to the rate of 2001, then there would be over 20 billion people by 2100 (http://www.earthday.net).?If the world followed the current economic model of the United States, or even China, with this trend of population growth, then life would be unsustainable.

††††††††††?The good news is that developed countries have a considerably lower population growth rate than undeveloped countries.?In the 49 poorest countries of the world, populations are still increasing at 2.4% a year, while annual growth in industrial nations is 0.25% (http://www.worldwatch.org).?It would be to the advantage of the environment to slow down the population growth by including undeveloped countries into the western system in hopes that they will develop.

 

 

China:?A Growing Environmental Threat

 

††††††††††?China is both a serious threat to the democratic world, but also the environment.?The problem with China is that it is a hybrid of a capitalist economic system mixed with an authoritarian government.?This is particularly dangerous because working class has virtually no voice.?In a democratic system, if enough pressure is put on the government to improve certain health issues, then the democratically elected officials will do something about the problem.?Democracies also have checked powers where the leaders cannot do anything outside of reason to endanger the health of the citizens.?On the other hand, dictators do as they please to make their country more powerful, and in Chinaís case, economically powerful.?Chinaís government simply ignores and often censors these people.?China has insisted that it will not let the environment stand in the way of economic growth.

††††††††††?Chinaís central government even tries to shift the blame of its environmental problems to the Multinational Corporations that have factories in the country.?Beijing has blamed MNCís for turning China into the pollution capital of the world.? MNCís do add to the pollution; although, a majority of the pollution is the result of domestic Chinese companies.? According to Elizabeth Economy, a pollution map was released in late 2006 listening more than 3,000 factories that were violating Chinaís pollution standards.?Thirty three of the factories supplied MNCs and were ultimately targeted in the media while the other few thousand were let off without any blame from the media.?The other few thousand were domestic factories responsible for a majority of the pollution (http://www.foreignaffairs.org).

††††††††††?The policies of the Chinese should be of particular concern to other nations for several reasons.? One reason is that the pollution in the air doesnít simply hover over China.?All countries share the same air.?Pollution that is created in China may soon be on its way over to another country.? In fact, evidence shows that air pollution travels across the Pacific and makes its way over to the western United States.

 

 

The Grand Alliance as a Solution

 

††††††††††?Although it may be extremely difficult, it is possible to mix mass capitalism and environmental protectionism.?This would be a difficult challenge because mass capitalism is based on a philosophy of mass consumerism.?Back during the start of the Industrial Revolution this would not be a concern; however, there are now approximately 6.6 billion people on the planet and if everyone consumed like Americans do, then the Earth would be unable to support life on the planet, or there would be conflict over the remaining resources.? As of July 2007, the CIA estimates the United States has a population of about 301 million.?While only having about five percent of the worldís population, the United States consumes about a fourth of the worldís resources, including energy sources such as fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas. (Worldwatch Institute).?There consists of 4.5 biologically productive acres per person.?The average person in the United States uses 24 acres per person (http://www.earthday.net).?If everyone lived like the Americans, we would need a couple more identical planets.? The United States isnít necessarily the picture perfect image of an environmentalist nation; however, a democratic alliance would surely be better for the environment than an authoritarian capitalistic nation.?

††††††††††?After a democratic alliance is formed, then an international environmental protection agency can be put into place with delegates from each country.?These delegates can be elected officials who can find a positive balance between capitalism and environmental regulations.? The EPA has a staff of almost 9,000 in Washington DC alone, while SEPA, Chinaís environmental regulator, has only 300 employees in Beijing and only a few more hundred throughout the rest of the country (http://www.foreignaffairs.org).?The addition of an international environmental agency, with many sub agencies under it, would create thousands of new jobs around the world.?Many believe that capitalism must slow down in order for people to control the environment.?While in some cases this may be true, capitalism could be stimulated by putting more emphasis on environmental standards.?More environmental jobs can be created to protect the environment and the ecosystem.?More research can be committed to creating new technology that is environmentally friendly.?We really only need to control population growth by allowing countries to develop and create environmentally friendly technology instead of trying to slow down capitalism which would slow down and potentially destroy the economy.

 

 

Forming the Grand Alliance Based on Mutual Environmental Concerns

 

††††††††††?Environmental concerns can certainly be one way to begin discussions of forming the Euro-American alliance.?While the current administration of the United States may not prioritize environmental issues at the top of their list, combining security and economic reasons would help encourage the US to form such an alliance.?Several European countries such as Germany and France do take these issues seriously and would be happy if the United States would as well.?One country can take steps to reduce their pollution, but if other countries do not, the effort is pointless.?These environmental issues must be dealt with on a global level for the sake of the health of the population.?If not for the health of the population, then we must deal with them for the sake of advancing the society.?New technology that is environmentally friendly will use less energy and therefore be more efficient economically.

 

Conclusion

 

††††††††††?The growing environmental problems of the planet are some of the most serious problems we face today.? It will be nearly impossible to improve upon or solve these issues with the current global political model.?Only with an alliance of integrated democratic economies