Global governance and climate change

Professor Schnellnhuber  proposes the formation of global authorities to cope with the global problem of climate change. Our proposal of Good Global Governance (GGG) is similar but addresses in addition to the environment the global problems of peace and disarmament. Below is a reference and a summary of Professor Schellnhuber’s proposal.

Helmut Burkhardt Toronto, 2015-06-14

Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber Founder & Director – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)—hans-joachim-schellnhuber-response-61.php

… In addition to the reforms and constructive steps each state can make, we should implicitly create innovative concepts to respond effectively to the climate crisis. One crucial concept is the idea of a global democratic society. This society could be represented by a small set of global institutions that support the sovereign countries as assembled within the United Nations in working out solutions to problems that require concerted transnational action.

Let me conclude this short contribution with a daydream about those key institutions that could bring about a sophisticated—and therefore more appropriate—version of the conventional “world government” notion. Global democracy might be organized around three core activities, namely (i) an Earth Constitution; (ii) a Global Council; and (iii) a Planetary Court. I cannot discuss these institutions in any detail here, but I would like to indicate at least that

  • the Earth Constitution would transcend the UN Charter and identify those first principles guiding humanity in its quest for freedom, dignity, security and sustainability;
  • the Global Council would be an assembly of individuals elected directly by all people on Earth, where eligibility should be not constrained by geographical, religious, or cultural quotas; and
  • the Planetary Court would be a transnational legal body open to appeals from everybody, especially with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution.

In order to dovetail the die-hard system of national governance with the global institutions, a certain percentage of national parliamentary seats should be earmarked for “Global Ombudspeople.” Their prime mandate would be to ensure that the first humanitarian principles as sketched above are observed, not least in the interest of future generations. This is no less and no more than a vision to extend democracy across space and time. Unprecedented challenges like anthropogenic climate change remind us that such dreams need to come true—soon.


Global Governance and Peace*

Core human issues

Humanity’s core issue is survival and sustainability; this rests on two main pillars.
The first pillar is peace and security.
The second pillar is a healthy environment, supplying vital resources for all.

 War and human nature

A common misconception is that that war is inevitable due to human nature.  However, this is obviously wrong since well governed countries have internal peace without changing the human nature of their citizen. Human nature is wanting to survive, which can be either through war or through peace. Internal peace is achieved by enforcing the law. Police is required for bringing law breakers to justice.

Likewise, a well governed world will have acceptable levels of global peace without changing human nature.  However, an effective, non-corrupt world government is required for world peace. Nations remain responsible for their internal peace. A world police must bring law breaking nations to justice. As peace is less costly, more secure for all, and more environmentally friendly than war, common sense calls for peace through good global governance.

Police action may require violence just like military action in war. However, there is a relevant difference in their mandates. The mandate of police is to implement the force of law. The mandate of military is the opposite, to implement the law of force.

Past Wars and Survival

Conflicts arise when vital resources are insufficient for all. Many superficial reasons may be given for going to war, but basically wars are fought for survival, for security and access to vital resources.  The winners of wars survive, have temorary security and access to resources. The losers suffer shortages or perish.

In his book on politics, Aristotle gives a reason for going to war. A citizen of Athens had to have wealth. What if he had four sons and their inheritance was insufficient for each to be a citizen of Athens? The solution was to increase his possessions by conquering the estate of a neighbour. Then all his sons can become citizens of Athens.

Another example of survival potential in winning a war is illustrated in the story the chief of the Chical villages in Niger told me. Some one hundred years ago, two brothers in a neighbouring village quarrelled. The weaker one and his clan were expelled and attacked the Chical village. After a fierce battle, only 120 of the 300 Chical villagers survived but they won. Today there are 3000 Chical villagers living near the old battle ground. The losers tried to conquer yet another village. They lost again and got wiped out.

Madness of present and future wars

The improvement of weapons of war has been much faster and more effective than the development of defence-ability. Furthermore, the production of weapons is much cheaper than the creation of defense systems, if these are possible at all. Fig. 1 illustrates that wars with nuclear weapons cannot be won. Conducting a nuclear war is suicidal, it results in mutually assured destruction. When wars can no longer be won, peace is our only option.

nuclear weapons chart

Fig. 1

This graph shows represents the explosive power available from nuclear weapons. Each point represents the explosive energy used in WW2 on both sides, which killed some 40 million people and destroyed many cities, Dresden and Hiroshima included. One US nuclear submarine carries eight times the explosive power of  WW2. If only 10% of the available nuclear weapons are exploded, an 5 year nuclear winter would extinguish the human race and other higher life forms on this planet. Obviously, defence against nuclear weapons is impossible. Nuclear war is suicidal. Therefore, peace has become a necessity for survival, war must be abolished. [1]

Conditions for peace

Access to vital resources is one condition for peace. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs must be satisfied for all humans. However, the planet Earth is finite and continued growth of human impact will reach a point beyond which not all human needs can be satisfied. Therefore, human numbers, per capita consumption and the use of technology has limitations.

Growth constraints

There are several signs that humanity is reaching the limits to growth. Climate change, persistent hunger of billions, and loss of biodiversity are warning signals that resource consumption has reached or even surpassed the sustainable level.

At the International Climate Change Symposium in Rome, 29 May 2015 President Gorbachev made the following statement to describe the present human situation: “The world remains trapped on an agonizingly unsustainable development path. Economic growth, without concern for the capacities of the planet, continues to be top goal and priority. … we are facing unprecedented and relentless environmental degradation, deterioration and over-exploitation of natural resources, with water, food and energy crises looming, while over a billion people are still living in extreme poverty and global inequality is clearly growing”. ( )

Major necessary steps towards sustainability

The realistic solution for securing basic needs for all is to adapt the ecological footprint of humankind to the ecological capacity of the Earth. For this three actions are necessary:

  1. Changing to environmentally friendly technologies,
  2. Regulating the average per capita resource consumption, and
  3. Getting world population to a sustainable level.

This is a politically inconvenient scientific truth, which challenges all individuals and institutions. All three actions are necessary for avoiding an inhumane solution through chaos and bloodshed. According to the  the Ehrlich-Holdren formula I = P A T, the human environmental impact on the environment ‘I’ depends on three factors. Population ‘P’, Affluence or resource consumption per capita ‘A’, and the kind of technology applied ‘T’. Using the data given by the Global Footprint Network, the enormity of the sustainability challenge  becomes obvious.
Fig 2
  Illustrates the trade-offs between the three steps. A totally renewable resources based world energy system, substantial reduction of per capita resource consumption as well as a lower world population is required to come anywhere near sustainability.

sustainable Population vs affluence jpeg 141213 b

Fig. 2:  The Sustainability Nexus I = PAT

The vertical axis gives the sustainable world population in billions as a function of the ratio of per capita consumption of resources to the per capita consumption of today’s rich (A/Ar). The red series assumes present day carbon based energy technology, the green series assumes zero carbon, total renewable resource based energy technology. [2]

The need for good global governance

Voluntary measures and multilateral agreements between sovereign nations are insufficient to stop growth let alone reverse it. The big nations must give up part of their sovereignty, the carbon and nuclear based energy corporations must wind down, and the rich citizen must reduce their per capita resource consumption. A trustworthy good global government with executive powers is required to legislate and enforce the painful but necessary steps for a just and sustainable world in a humane way. The alternative, global chaos, World War 3 or extinction of the human race is so gruesome, that all reasonable people will opt for the less painful global governance. In addition, with good global governance nations are secure through the force of law and can abolish the costly military.


Good global governance is not a crazy idea but a necessity for the survival of human civilization. In an age of reason peace through good global governance makes sense economically, as it is less costly, socially, as it is more secure and ecologically, as it is less polluting than war.

Finally, I call for your support of the Science for Peace Working Group on Good Global Governance for a Just and Sustainable World.

Our mandate is to raise public awareness of global governance issues. We believe the world is ready for good global governance, which is transparent, trustworthy and just.  We are aware of and we warn of the dangers of secretive bad global governance, which may emerge from an elitist new world order.

Please endorse our effort by sending an email to, contribute your ideas to the Open Forum:, and pass this request on to friends. Our website/blog is: .


1.Willens, Harold 1984 interview
2.Burkhardt, Helmut the Roundtable on Food and Population of the Science for Peace and Canadian Pugwash Group Global Issues Project on November 21, 2011, Ryerson University, Toronto ON Canada).

Helmut Burkhardt bio:
Dr. Helmut Burkhardt, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Ryerson University Coordinator, Science for Peace Working Group on Good Global Governance for a Just and Sustainable World 142 Balsam Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4E 3C1 Email: , Tel.: (416) 694-8385
Research: thermonuclear fusion, magneto hydrodynamic energy conversion, renewable energy, appropriate technology, general systems, substance accounting, sustainability, good global governance.
Memberships: American Association of Physics Teachers, life member and past president of Science for Peace, member of the Canadian Pugwash Group, and the Canadian World Federalist Movement.

*Presentation scheduled for the Canadian Peace Research Association Conference June 3 – 5, 2015, Ottawa.