Ranking Global Issues

Results of the Brainstorming Session of the World Federalist Movement Canada, Toronto Branch, the Science for Peace Working Group on Global Governance 17-07-30, and some Internet Discussions. Compiled by Helmut Burkhardt

Global dangers   –   Root causes  –   Solutions  – By Who and How
Ranked by number
of responses),

Issues, Root Causes and Solutions
most frequent responses at the top

Results of the Brainstorming Session 2017-07-30 of the World Federalist Movement Canada, Toronto Branch, the Science for Peace Working Group on Global Governance, and some Internet Discussions. Compiled by Helmut Burkhardt





Nobel Laureates’ Ranking Global Issues:
“among the biggest global threats include population, nuclear war, climate change, infectious diseases and bad leaders like Donald Trump”. http://www.iflscience.com/environment/nuclear-war-climate-change-and-trump-named-as-worlds-biggest-threats-by-nobel-laureates/ . This survey was conducted by Time Higher Education, the body that puts together the world university rankings, ahead of its World Academic Summit held in London this week. They surveyed 50 of the world’s Nobel prize winners for science, medicine, and economics – that’s one in five of the living laureates – on their views on a range of topics, from university funding to the biggest threats facing mankind today.

Other Comments Submitted:
“Our purpose in life is to be a bridge from one generation to the next.  It is programmed into most of us biologically to want to be that bridge. We have more tools than ever before that can be used for this purpose. And so far, they only require time to use them. Perhaps the most effective use of my time was encouraging Walter Dorn when he was a young man.  Eric Fawcett lived to see the end of the “Cold War”. He never stopped reminding others of its dangers”. Tony Arrott

“The most pressing global issue in my mind is the hijacking of democracy by the global casino capitalists represented by Robert Mercer. John McMurtry’s article hints at it, but Carole Cadwalladr, in this very well researched article in the Guardian, nailed it. There seems to be a movement amongst the ultra rich to prove that the human is not a viable species. Perhaps there is the vain hope that they alone will survive the collapse in their mountain hideaways. Who knows what fantasies they breed in their inclusive gated communities and private clubs?  What can we do? I think exposure to start, and not being distracted by idiotic tweets from the liar in chief to the south of us. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy “. David Burman

“The world is changing. Automation and robotics make it more difficult for people to “earn a living” while the increase in world population adds to the number of people competing for diminishing jobs. Some are for global guarantee basic income and the means to sustain this system should be a subject of thought and research”. Author?

“There surely is a “people’s globalism” movement, and it appears to be not only very active, but gathering momentum: https://www.globalcitizen.org. As someone who knows some of the ultra rich personally, I can tell you with confidence there is no coordinated plan to plunder anybody or anything. Quite the opposite. Many of them are keenly interested in helping humanity, especially the less fortunate, become better in various ways, both direct (massive philanthropy) or indirect (promoting and supporting humanistic values in their business or social activities). Politically, they are all over the spectrum, just like less wealthy people. Also, many, perhaps most, of these “ultra rich” people became so by creating real value to many millions of people and being rewarded financially for it, which is fair. This includes for example, Zuckerberg, Gates, Jobs, Brin and Page, Musk, Bezos, Branson, and many others”. Doron Dekel

“Making sense of our crumbling democratic institutions is not easy. I agree with John McMurtry that we probably are in the cancer stage of capitalism. (Remember his book by that title). I also agree that some billionaires are more altruistic than others. Not all of them are unhinged, narcissistic egomaniacs like Trump. On the issue of climate change, it has often been pointed out that ” they have grand children too”. For a better understanding of where we are at this point in human history it might be useful to read the article in today’s Globe an Mail by Mark Medley titled THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MARSHALL McLUHAN. I agree with his premise that McLuhan’s theories continue to resonate in 2017. Also, that it might be helpful to folks unfamiliar with his theories to read “Understanding Media” written in 1964. More relevant than ever. On the whole more attn has to be paid to digital technologies and their impact on Democracy. Robert McChesney has written several books on the subject”. Rose Dyson

“There are two main streams here – the physical and the political.  Science can provide for most of the physical needs (preferably not colonizing other planets, in view of the mess we’ve made of this one). The political is more difficult.  I don’t know the answer. Would a World Government be more effective than the UN? Would the (e.g.,) USA agree to an overarching power? I doubt it – they won’t let Americans come under any command but theirs and no govt is worthwhile unless it has ’teeth” to enforce its law. It sounds a bit Big Brotherish. How would it be formed? How would it be paid for? How would it enforce its resolutions? We already have several levels of government each with its own sprawling bureaucracy.  Do we need another one? Would Trinidad and Tobago have as much representation as Russia or the USA? Would there be Global Ministers of the Environment, Transport, etcetera”? Patricia Appleton

“The elephant in the room, among the root causes: – glorification and normalization of male violence/domination (global suppression of women for centuries have relegated their peacekeeping abilities to the private sphere, leaving the public sphere to men who typically have much less experience in/need for peacekeeping roles, and are moreover socialized -by tradition, the media, military service, etc.- into dominance/violence values and roles, while women are socialized into submission to this “normal” status quo, so pervasive that it is rarely even identified or brought up)
Among the solutions to this root cause, proportional gender representation in the public sphere is paramount, in particular in the judicial and legislative powers.
The “how” should include a specific, wide ranging, government-led campaign to educate for peace, cooperation, representative democracy, coupled with legal reform to protect women from violence and discrimination, to protect men from the influences that socialize them into violent and supremacist stances, and protect brains from both sexes from bombardment with gender hate expressions, to which we are generously exposed to daily at present and which form the basis of our anti-women, violence-accepting collective unconscious.
The “by whom” I believe should be, as said, with heavy government involvement (to be really effective), and with also heavy involvement from key institutions and from ordinary citizens, in particular men. As the de-facto privileged subset of our male supremacist culture, men are in a privileged position to change things: as advocators, as role models, as initiators of measures that enable more peaceful and equitable models of power distribution, etc.
One more comment, this one on the idea of a world federation that would enable- if good- change for the good. The “if good” is paramount. Without healing all the root causes of injustice, any new institutional framework will replicate the old injustices, thus preserving an all-alpha-male-dominated, if not Rambo-like, world predicament. Or be seized in time by the old status quo, even if its starts at first as revolutionary. Changing the root causes, on the other hand, will on its own converge on some system or institutional change that will reflect those changes, if truly adopted by society at large.

Also missing from the list of most important global problems is the largely unidentified but sure victory of neoliberal economic policies throughout the globe, such as the pillage of public assets and economic sovereignty through privatizations, corporate power, the so-called free trade (which in reality is less than free, and more than trade) and the international banking system. Most notably at home, the 1974 unconstitutional transfer of economic sovereignty from our public bank to the Bank of International Settlements- ie, to private foreign banks. Indebted democracy resulted, which is not democracy- it’s slavery. I think this is a real root cause of world problems, since it affects human rights, the environment, militarization, and many other of the crucial problems of our century.

Adding “terrorism” to the list, as someone suggested, would call for term clarification, since there is no legal, accepted definition. Its forms include for instance state terrorism (as in Operacion Condor, which imposed governmental violence against civilians in six countries as the only way known at the time to impose neoliberal economic politics) and intimate terrorism (coercive violence in intimate relationships– this one kills more people yearly than “ordinary” terrorism as understood by the press).

By the way, I share below my planned response to a call to proposals “to address complex, fundamental questions of importance to the world”, and my own first idea for one such proposal, sent to Academic Women at SFU- where there is interest from the sociological viewpoint. Venilla, would you be interested in participating from the legal viewpoint? Anyone else, from any other point of view?

If my skills, described below, would serve to address any other challenge in any other proposal addressing a global problem, I’d be interested in hearing about it”. Best wishes- Veronica Dahl

(sent to Academic Women:)
Who would like to put together an interdisciplinary proposal to the call below, for developing a model of violence prevention that is aimed at the perpetrators, rather than as usual, leaving it all to the victims?

The first task would be to collect info- e.g we do not know for sure how many rapes occur in Canada, since no one is counting. Then we could develop AI knowledge bases to enter that info and consult it in view of societal objectives of violence diminution, we could evaluate the results periodically also automatically, advise the government (which would have been enlisted as a main actor in the campaign) etc.

I am an expert in deductive knowledge bases, we’d also need experts to develop the questionnaires to be sent to social workers etc (whomever HAS access to individual or partial data, so as to put it together nationally), lawyers to liaise with government, psychologists to explore which preventive methods would work, sociologists to examine the societal myths that glorify/normalize violence and give it a gender, etc). Many ramifications are possible, e.g. natural language processing systems (another of my specialties) that can detect hate literature, child and women exploitation baits in the internet, etc. could come in handy too. Anyone interested? Thanks, best- Veronica Dahl

“Present laws are not respected, both nationally and internationally yet they are the only hope for a movement in the right direction Finally calling environmental disasters and land grabs crimes against humanity, was a very important move on the part of the ICC, now it takes the work of scholars legal and otherwise, to flesh out   what makes the activities that produce those results crimes”. Laura Westra.

“Regime change from without is unacceptable and that should be a strong principle of Science for Peace”. Ed Daniel