Natalie Züfle Outlook
Essay: discuss the future of a globalized world as described in the compulsory reading. Would you say that this outlook is (partly) realistic or do you envision another future in your mind?
The underlying report of the Global Scenario Group portrays various future development scenarios, focusing in particular on the concept of the so called “Great Transition”, in which the authors claim that “a sustainable transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity and a healthy planet is possible” (Raskin et al. 2002, p. ix). The theoretical aspects of this Great Transition are finally presented in a retrospective image of the future – so to speak in the “History of the Future”. The fundamental change in values, pushed forward by new global actors besides state governments, takes centre stage. The authors emphasise “the quality of life and material sufficiency, human solidarity, global equity, and affinity with nature and environmental sustainability” (Raskin et al. 2002, p. 15).
At heart, this vision of the future reflects the ideas of Wilsonian idealism: The establishment of an international peace order through peacemaking elements like a “League of Nations” and an international law, the focusing on international cooperation, integration and the education towards collective action, can be conferred on the Global Scenario Group’s vision of a Great Transition.
From my point of view, this (historical) outlook seems too optimistic to become true, if only partly. The authors emanate from the very positive basic-nature of man, who is a reasonable and rational human being, i.e. people who “take responsibility for solving problems themselves (Raskin et al. 2002, p. 87). But still, most individuals’ as well as states’ interests frequently deviate, which imposes severe problems to the formulation of common problem-solving strategies. Nor show enough persons the will and the appropriate attitude, which are necessary to find solutions to the global problems. If the privileged people, living by the majority in the industrialized world, can be convinced to give up their beloved way of cosy lives in the future is kind of questionable.
Apart from it, around 2.6 billion people – that is more than 1/3rd of mankind! – still live on less than 2 USD a day1. Speaking in reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people will take care of satisfying their basic needs first before thinking of a global awareness, respectively of a “global moral”– i.e. as long as they don’t have enough to eat, no shelter, no security, they will be kept busy by other “sorrows”. Currently, only a small, well educated elite has the luxury to think of a common future.
There is a whole series of honourable initiatives that aim at shaping a more equal world for all, among them e.g. the Global Marshall Plan Initiative, which gives specific ideas on how to save the global environment. Admittedly, also this treatise holds some interesting approaches. In any case, we have to work out acceptable and in particular, realistic (i.e. feasible) solutions.
The topic is quite complex for me as a layperson to propose a “right” solution here. But I imagine that we should spur much more energetically and intensively on technological possibilities to reduce poverty and environmental problems, and at the same time, invest in good quality education for the young.
Development should imply an efficient utilization of existing potentials, but at the same time the maintenance of the ecological system. The rich industrialized countries should furthermore create stricter measures of ecological self-restraints, which include the development of environmentally sound and energy saving methods, practices and technologies.
Another buzzword is “good governance”. To achieve a broad change in mindsets, so that we after all will familiarize with new values voluntarily, it needs reasonable governments and transnational actors who act as role models by exemplifying these new values, which shall be assimilated into people’s lives.
1 Source: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2007), online available at www.bpb.de/wissen/WILQQ6,0,0,Globale_Armut.html, last accessed 6 January 2008