4th Global Universities Network for Innovation report

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

I have been reading Lester Brown's Introduction [ The World on the Edge ] to the 4th GUNI [ Global Universities Network for Innovation ] report: Higher Education in the World 4, Higher Education's Commitment to Sustainability: from Understanding to Action'.  This is an inspiring (or gloomy, according to taste) tour d'horizon, and there and facts and figures aplenty if you want to scare the horses.

The article ends like this:

One of the questions I hear most frequently is: What can I do? People often expect me to suggest lifestyle changes, such as recycling newspapers or changing light bulbs.  These are essential, but they are not nearly enough.  Restructuring the global economy means becoming politically active, working for the needed changes, as the grassroots campaign against coal-fired power plants is doing.  Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.

Inform yourself.  Read about the issues.  Share this information with friends.  Pick an issue that’s meaningful to you, such as tax restructuring to create an honest market, phasing out coal-fired power plants, or developing a world-class recycling system in your community.  Or join a group that is working to provide family planning services to the 215 million women who want to plan their families but lack the means to do so.  You might want to organize a small group of like-minded individuals to work on an issue that is of mutual concern.  You can begin by talking with others to help select an issue to work on.

Once your group is informed and has a clearly defined goal, ask to meet with your elected representatives on the city council or the state or national legislature.  Write or email your elected representatives about the need to restructure taxes and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.  Remind them that leaving environmental costs off the books may offer a sense of prosperity in the short run, but it leads to collapse in the long run.  ...

The choice is ours – yours and mine.  We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress.  The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on Earth for all generations to come.

I said it was gloomy.  But it is well written and contains much by way of information and ideas; and not a few sound bites.  I was particularly struck by this quote from Øystein Dahle, former Vice President of Exxon for Norway and the North Sea:

Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth.  Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.

For ‘capitalism’, here, read civilisation, as it's likely to unravel before the market does.  Its doubly gloomy outside today: one of those drab, windless winter days where renewables are neither seen nor heard and we're grateful for all that coal at the power stations.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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