Politics of Opportunity
Abstract:In the marketplace of ideas, Western Culture has been an unqualified success. Capitalism, science and technology, natural resources, and democratic government have raised the standard of living of large numbers of people. Advertising and television have sent the ideas of individualism and consumerism and economic growth around the world.
But even as many worldwide are striving for a high-consumption Western lifestyle, the planet is being overtaken by problems caused by that lifestyle. The world doesn't have the resources for its 6.5 billion people to be rich. There are looming shortages of fresh water around the world. We are approaching peak oil, which will sharply curtail the automobile society, and which calls into question whether world agriculture can grow and distribute enough food to keep us all alive.
Global climate change is emerging as a greater threat than scientists first believed. This is not simple pollution. Our rate of burning fossil fuels is building up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warming the planet. It is causing droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and floods. It threatens to disrupt the ocean currents, making Great Britain, among other places, unlivable. Global warming may flood low-lying costal areas worldwide as melting Antarctic ice raises the sea level.
The Cold War has left a legacy of nuclear terrorism. Around the world, countries are confronting the risk of owning nuclear weapons, and comparing that to the risk of not owning them. Historically, greater military power meant greater security. But in the age of nuclear proliferation and terrorism, we need a new plan.
Western Culture is obsolete. It has become unsustainable and too dangerous to pursue. We need a new cultural story for the world, one that can help us balance population with resources, protect the environment, and provide a peaceful future. And we need it before living conditions on the planet get worse.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2007