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The State of the World AIESEC IPM Ohrid, Macedonia, 25 February 2008


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Title: The State of the World AIESEC IPM Ohrid, Macedonia, 25 February 2008

The State of the WorldAIESEC IPMOhrid,
Macedonia, 25 February 2008
  • Arthur Lyon Dahl Ph.D.
  • European Bahá'í Business Forum (EBBF)?
  • http//
  • and
  • International Environment Forum (IEF)?
  • http//

Bank manager's warning to wealthy spendthrift
The State of the Worldis a dynamic condition
  • Not a static situation but a balance to be
    maintained in space and in time
  • Involving complex interactions in the whole
    system that maintains life on Earth (the
    environmental accounts)?
  • Including the human system (the social, economic
    and cultural/ethical accounts)?
  • That must maintain productive capital and respect
    planetary limits to be sustainable

  • is the logical next step in human evolution, but
  • Economic globalization is driven by powerful
    governments and multinational businesses for
    their own benefit
  • Social globalization is being strongly resisted
  • Globalization of environmental problems threatens
    future sustainability

Some of the major driving forces for planetary
  • Environment biodiversity loss, pollution,
    climate change
  • Human society energy, population growth, food,
    resource depletion
  • Economy unmanaged globalization, financial
  • Ethics sovereignty, corruption, materialism

  • - Human impacts on the natural environment are
    causing a major extinction event from
    uncontrollable population and development
    pressures accelerated by climate change
  • - There will soon be no undisturbed natural
    ecosystems left, requiring increasing human
    intervention to maintain some biological diversity

Waste TreatmentCapacityPollution(image
IKONOS Lang, ESRI 1998)Man-made chemical
pollutants have contaminated the entire planet,
interfering with biological processes, upsetting
hormonal balances and immune systems, causing
cancers and other diseases, damaging the ozone
layer, and having other as yet unknown effects

Environmental StabilityClimate change stronger
and sooner
  • Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel
    have accelerated since 2000
  • Rise in 1990s 0.7/yr 2.9 since 2000
  • Three causes growth in world economy, rise of
    coal use in China, weakening of natural carbon
    sinks (forests, seas, soils)?
  • Growth in atmospheric CO2 is about 35 higher
    than expected

Polar areas are changing fastest
  • 14 of the permanent ice in the Arctic Ocean
    melted in 2005 23 more in 2007(worst melting
    ever) opening the North-West Passage permanent
    ice in the Arctic Ocean may be gone by 2030
  • Greenland glaciers have doubled their rate of
    flow in the last few years, raising sea level 0.6
    mm per year
  • Similar melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet
    could add another 4 mm per year
  • Sea level rise could drown Belgium, the
    Netherlands, half of Florida and Bangladesh,
    among others, by 2100

There is little time left to act
  • Glaciers and snow cover have decreased cold
    days, nights and frost have become rarer hot
    days, nights and heatwaves more frequent
  • Recent surge in CO2 levels
  • Global temperatures have already risen 0.6C and
    will probably rise a further 3, or even up to
    4.5-5 by 2100
  • A rise of more than 2 could be irreversable,
    requiring action within 10 years at most
  • We may be approaching a tipping point where
    runaway climate change would be catastrophic

The most vulnerable areas risking catastrophic
collapse this century
  • Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet
  • Amazon rain forest
  • Northern boreal forests
  • El Nino affecting weather in North America,
    South-East Asia and Africa (3C rise)?
  • Collapse of West African monsoon
  • Erratic Indian summer monsoon
  • Result 0.5-1 billion environmental refugees

Climate changeeffect on the economy
  • The Stern Report estimated the annual cost of
    uncontrolled climate change at more than 660
    billion (5 to 20 of global GDP, as compared to
    1 for control measures for greenhouse gases).
  • Climate change represents the greatest market
    failure in human history
  • IPCC 4 says stabilizing greenhouse gases by 2030
    will slow global growth by 0.12/yr or 3 of
    total global GDP

Human Population
  • The world population has tripled in one lifetime,
    and is expected by the UN to rise to 9.2 billion
    by 2050 before stabilizing
  • By some estimates, world resources can only
    sustainably support 500 million people
  • We seem to be following a classic ecological
    pattern of overshoot and collapse
  • The planetary carrying capacity depends on
    numbers versus standard of living increasing one
    reduces the other
  • Science may find ways to increase carrying
    capacity, but only at longer time scales

Food Production
  • The Green Revolution of the 1970s postponed food
    supply as a limit to growth
  • Crop production has improved in the last 20 years
    from 1.8 to 2.5 t/ha. but such intensive
    agriculture requires high energy, fertilizer and
    petrochemical inputs
  • World cereal production per person peaked in the
    1980s and has decreased slowly since
  • Feeding the growing world population and reducing
    hunger by half will require doubling world food
    production by 2050
  • Land, water, phosphate, energy will be limiting

Global Food Crisis
  • In 2007, the price of wheat rose 100, maize 50,
    rice 20, increasing staple food prices for the
    poor over 10
  • Global food reserves are lowest for 20 years,
    with only 57 day grain reserve
  • Climate change, drought, floods, soil erosion,
    overfishing are reducing food production
  • With grain being diverted for biofuel, 800 m
    motorists are competing with 2 bn poor
  • There are 854 m hungry people, rising 4 m/y
  • Food is being priced out of reach for the poor

Planetary Capacity?
  • Water use for crops will have to double by 2050
    to halve the number of hungry
  • But, by 2025, 1.8b people will live in regions
    with absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the
    world population could be subject to water stress
    as climate change reduces rainfall
  • One third of all non-ice-covered land is already
    used for agriculture or grazing
  • More than 40 of all ocean areas are heavily
    impacted by human activities

Resource Depletion
  • Many key materials are being exhausted rapidly
    (estimated years left predicted/today's rate)?
  • Phosphorus (fertilizer) 142-345
  • Copper (wire, coins, pipes) 40-60
  • Zinc (galvanizing) 20-46
  • Hafnium, Indium (chips, LCDs) 5-15
  • Tantalum (cellphones, cameras) 20-115
  • Platinum (catalysts, fuel cells) 15-360
  • Silver (jewelry, catalysts) 15-30
  • Uranium (weapons, power stations) 30-60

Energy driver of development
  • Industrial economy, agriculture, transportation,
    communications, trade, urbanization, consumer
    lifestyle all depend on cheap and abundant energy
  • Energy demand will grow 50 by 2030, but oil
    production is peaking and will decline 75 in 30
    years coal may also peak by then
  • Adaptation will be extremely expensive and the
    struggle for diminishing resources globally
  • The fossil-fuel-based energy subsidy of
    civilization is unsustainable

Economic globalization by itself is not working
  • Rise of the Asian economies driving
    delocalizations and competition for resources
  • Difficult transition in Central and Eastern
    Europe failure in Africa
  • Ageing societies of Europe and Japan
  • America is living beyond its means
  • Growing extremes of wealth and poverty
    exploitation of the poor, child labour worker
  • Failure to create adequate employment
  • Global economy threatened by internal imbalances
    and external perturbations
  • Recent sustained growth similar to late '20s,
    early '70s increasing warnings of a crash it
    may already have started

Financial ImbalancesExample USA Current Account
DeficitThe Cooper-Rogoff Debate, Davos 2006WEF
Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007
  • Larry Summers Global imbalances are one of the
    most important threats to global prosperity
  • Richard Cooper US current account deficit (660b
    in 2004) is natural and sustainable because US is
    attractive to investment
  • Ken Rogoff US deficit mirrors government
    borrowing beginning of the end. US eating up
    70 of global net savings. US housing slump could
    cause drop in overvalued US of up to 40 and
    loss of its role as global reserve currency,
    precipitating a financial market crisis with
    serious impact on inflexible economies of Europe
    and Japan

  • The illegal economy from organized crime is now
    2 trillion/year, or twice all the world's
    defence budgets
  • Bribery 1tr counterfeiting and piracy 520bn
    drug trade 320bn human trafficking 44bn
  • Political corruption is everywhere the vast
    majority of bribes go to people in rich countries
  • 10 of all public health budgets are lost to
  • Resisting corruption requires great courage

Adding up the figures
  • A recent analysis of 40 years of data on human
    activity and environmental damage puts the cost
    of climate change, ozone depletion, deforestation
    and overfishing by rich nations at 47 trillion,
    more that the combined foreign debt of all poor
  • The annual investment necessary to restore the
    planet's productive resources is estimated at 93

At the rootof all thisis what could be called
an ethicaldeficit
Has nationalsovereigntybecomeunethical?
  • Even at the UN, national sovereignty is
    jealously protected, yet global problems require
    a global response. Governments do not realize
    that true national self-interest today is best
    reflected in global solidarity and a willingness
    to make short-term sacrifices in the common

Economics based onself-centred materialism
  • The materialistic interpretation of reality has
    become the dominant world faith in the direction
    of society
  • Dogmatic materialism has captured all
    significant centres of power and information at
    the global level, ensuring that no competing
    voices can challenge projects of world wide
    economic exploitation

The unsustainable consumer culture
  • - Materialism's vision of human progress produced
    today's consumer culture with its ephemeral goals
  • - For the small minority of people who can afford
    them, the benefits it offers are immediate
  • - The breakdown of traditional morality has led
    to the triumph of animal impulses and hedonism
  • - Selfishness has become a prized commercial
    resource falsehood reinvents itself as public
    information greed, lust, indolence, pride,
    violence are broadly accepted and have social and
    economic value
  • - Yet it is a culture without meaning

Integrating all the driving forcesenvironmental,
social, economic, ethical
  • What are the implications for planetary

Ecological footprint
  • Surface needed to supply the needs and absorb the
    wastes of an individual, community, or country
  • Global average 2.3 ha/person
  • Italy 3.26 ha/person (lowest in western Europe),
    France 5.74 ha/person, Switzerland 5.26 ha/p.
  • Resources available 1.9 ha/person
  • We overshot the earth's capacity in 1975
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Scenariosplausible futures
  • Business as usual in a materialistic society
    ignoring the future
  • Retreating to a fortress world of old values
  • Making a transition to sustainability

Scenarios from World 3(Meadows et al. (1992)
Beyond the Limits)?
  • Business as usual Transition 1995
    Transition 2015

End of the growth paradigm
  • What is more realistic?
  • Exponential growth?
  • The normal distribution, bell-shaped curve?
  • Economic growth has depended on population
    growth, energy growth, and resource growth, all
    of which end in this century
  • Welcome to the new paradigm of balance, optimal
    size, efficiency and closed systems

Restoring the world tosustainabilityis
fundamentally anethical challenge
Only fundamental change will save the world from
continuing decline
  • Resolving such complex problems requires a united
  • We need to redefine "development" ( growth for
    economists) within a more universal framework
    including society, culture, science and
  • Sustainable environmental management must come to
    be seen not as a discretionary commitment to
    weigh against other competing interests, but
    rather as a fundamental responsibility and
    pre-requisite for spiritual development as well
    as our physical survival

The present economic system cannot deal with
  • - Economic thinking is challenged by the
    environmental crisis to change?
  • - Insisting that there is no limit to nature's
    capacity to fulfil any demand made on it
  • - Attaching absolute value to growth, to
    acquisition, and to the satisfaction of people's
  • - Making economic decisions at the national level
    when most of the major challenges are global

The importance of values
  • Ethics and values are what determine how humans
    relate to each other
  • They are the social equivalent of DNA, encoding
    the information through which society is
  • The most effective way to transform society is to
    change its values
  • An emotional/spiritual as well as intellectual
    commitment is necessary to motivate real change
    and sacrifice

Values for a sustainable society
  • Justice
  • Solidarity
  • Altruism
  • Cooperation
  • Trust
  • Moderation
  • Service

Rethinking the values in economics
  • Economics has ignored humanity's broader social
    and spiritual needs, resulting in
  • - Corrosive materialism among the wealthy
  • - Persistent poverty for masses of the world's
  • Economic systems should give the peoples and
    institutions of the world the means to achieve
    the real purpose of development the cultivation
    of the limitless potentialities in human
  • (adapted from Bahá'í International Community,
    Valuing Spirituality in Development, 1998)?

We need new economic models that
  • - further a dynamic, just and thriving social
  • - are strongly altruistic and cooperative in
  • - provide meaningful employment
  • - help to eradicate poverty in the world
  • - give the right signals for challenges like
    climate change and sustainability

We can live within environmental limits
  • To maintain a sustainable balance, we must
  • - reduce our material consumption with simpler
    lifestyles emphasizing social, cultural and
    spiritual wealth
  • - redesign material civilization based on
    decentralized communities, renewable resources,
    energy economy and materials recycling in closed
  • - reduce human impacts to a level appropriate to
    the vulnerability and resilience of natural
  • - restore damaged systems to the level necessary
    to maintain natural and human ecosystem services
  • - allow development and population growth only to
    the extent that system improvements extend the
    carrying capacity of planetary systems.

The goalan organicallyunited world
  • Good for society
  • Good for business

Global sustainability requires a new
  • We are in the middle of a major transformation in
  • The past is not a good predictor of the future
  • Change is inevitable, and the rate of change is
    accelerating, requiring adaptive management
  • Globalization cannot be stopped, but it can be
  • Institution building for international governance
    will continue
  • We can consciously work for change, or wait for
    catastrophe to force us to change
  • There will be new forms of wealth creation and
  • Creativity and innovation will be increasingly
    necessary for success
  • Values and ethics will be fundamental to social
    and economic transformation

AIESECers have the perfect profile
  • Value-driven
  • Unity in diversity
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Creative
  • Leadership
  • and you can motivate them

The years ahead will be difficult, but you are
the reason for hope
  • Become the new
  • responsible entrepreneurs

Thank you
  • The planet will thank you too