Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Earth Day

Written by on . Published in Earth-day

Earth Day

Earth DayWhen it was first observed in 1970, Earth Day (22nd April)  was seen as a moment to learn about ecology, and to raise a common voice against such obviously environmental issues as oil spills, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and air pollution. Twenty million people are said to have participated. Today, more than 500 million people are expected to participate in Earth Day activities in one form or another, and our Future Challenges authors are taking part, too.

Many people around the world, including the Future Challenges community, have recognized that these environmental issues are actually tightly connected with other trends in our lives. In 1970, the world’s population was approximately 3.7 billion. The world population is now almost double that. The integration of the global economy at that time was nothing like it is today, as we see in the regular financial crises that now ripple their way around the globe, regardless of where they may begin. In 1970, the United States was the world’s largest economy, followed by the isolationist Soviet Union. China fell 8th in the list, and Brazil was nowhere to be found. As of 2010, though the United States remains at the top, China is in second place and Brazil is comfortably in the top 10, while the European Union has risen to be the world’s largest economic community and the Soviet Union has disappeared, leaving the Russian economy hanging on to the top 10 by the skin of its teeth.

Today, more and more people believe that overuse of our environment is, whether “right” or “wrong,” at least unsustainable, and that it is thus something that we must manage. It could be said that there are two camps emerging: those who believe that policy-based solutions are the best, and the most likely to be successful; and those who believe that market-based mechanisms are the only realistic way to manage resource usage. The concept of ecosystem services – that is, of quantifying the benefits provided to all of us by our surroundings – is beginning to gain prominence as a way to force us to consider the cost of services we have previously considered “free,” while at the policy level calls for regulation to discourage or prevent overuse of limited resources are growing ever louder.

Which way is the right way? What works, and what makes successful strategies different from community to community, and from culture to culture?

*Photo taken from user 55Laney69 on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Tags: , , , , ,

Tom Fries Twitter: @tom_friesTom

Erstwhile neuroscientist ('97-'00), rowing coach ('99-'10), business student ('07-'09) and cupcake entrepreneur ('09). Now enjoying international work in the Germany and Washington offices of one of Germany's most prominent think tanks.

Most recent Local Views on ‘Earth-day’

  • Why Bugs Matter To Food Producers and Consumers

    Written by on November 27, 2012.

    What do bugs have to do with your food? Many of us do not think of that beyond the moment when we select and wash our fresh produce. What if I told you that the use of pesticides is linked to the increased need for ecological pollination services and fertilizer […]

  • hutan: 100 Years of Peace, Unity, and Happiness. Photo by Rajkumar1220 on Flickr CC BY 2.0.

    Don’t Destroy Your Home (and Other Ideas on Happiness)

    Written by on September 16, 2012.

    The notion that economic growth is inherently beneficial for society is deeply entrenched dogma in the United States. The primary (indeed, almost sole) metrics of our nation’s health and success are economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of all nationally produced goods and services, and […]

  • Mona Shomali (photo courtesy of the artist)

    Artist Mona Shomali: Ecology not for ‘stiff lab coats’

    Written by on August 29, 2012.

    Once upon a time, there was a young painter named Mona Shomali. Her brown eyes glowed like candied almonds and her smile came together like a vanquished orange slice. She laughed readily, covering canvasses with beautiful images — sweeping portraits of female figures who share her Iranian descent. Art collectors were […]

  • Earth Day, civil society, and fulfilling the intent of Rio+20

    Written by on July 19, 2012.

    Forty-two years after the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, the environmental challenges we face have not changed. Earth Day was founded with the intention of increasing awareness of global environmental destruction, and it certainly seems to have been successful in this regard: every year, over 190 countries have […]

  • Delhi: A Green View

    Written by on June 24, 2012.

    An ancient city, Delhi is one of the largest metropolises in the world. It’s home to over 15 million people, a refuge for people from Tibet and Myanmar, an economic opportunity for those from Nepal and Bangladesh and the biggest magnet for migrants from across the whole country. India’s capital city […]

  • Saving the planet, one (manageable) step at a time

    Written by on May 28, 2012.

    I’m sitting in a circle of about a dozen people, all eyes on me, and it’s confession time.. I don’t drink, I’m not trying to lose weight, but I am trying to reduce my dependency on the car. Welcome to Sustainable Communities South Australia! Last night I attended my first […]

  • Pakistan’s Kyoto Clean Development Mechanisms and Earth Day

    Written by on May 15, 2012.

    Tagline: Market based mechanisms at work in Pakistan despite its subscribing to the Kyoto Protocol I see the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the same market-based mechanism which is being followed in Pakistan. Non-control of industries and their functions leads to environmental hazards like the disaster in the […]