The Work of the Global Issues Project and the Wasan Action Framework

The Global Issues Project of Science for Peace obtained its seed funding in November 2005. Its objective was to create strategies to deal with crucial global issues. Initially we decided to develop the strategies by means of roundtables that would bring together a wide range of people, not merely scholars and experts on the issues. We identified issues as crucial if civilization itself would be threatened by neglecting them. The following is taken from our prospectus:

“Unless the present usage pattern is controlled, global resources and environmental sinks that seem to be stretched well beyond sustainability are:

  • food and agriculture,
  • forests,
  • water,
  • oceans and fisheries,
  • energy,

“The other factors or issues that can lead to collapse are:

  • population,
  • climate change,
  • disease,
  • waste and pollution,
  • war and military consumption and waste,
  • inappropriate technologies and inappropriate myths,
  • faulty social structures.”

We held a Roundtable on Forests (2006) and one on Climate Change and Energy (2007). The processes of the roundtables are roughly as follows. We invite enough international and Canadian experts to be sure of getting the science right. Next we keep things focused on the Big Picture and the interactive aspects between one crucial factor and another. Third, we allow much time for free discussion, and fourth, we form a follow-up team for each roundtable, a group willing to take the results of the roundtable to the next stage, whatever that is. In addition, at our first roundtable, we made extensive use of a model developed by members of the Canadian Association of the Club of Rome. The model is intended to educate the user in what is and is not likely or possible in future. It yields rapidly and in simple graphical representations the results of whatever assumptions you feed into it. Thus, if you feed it only the global average expectation of life and the trends in that average, and the global average birthrate and the trends in that average, you obtain projections of world population. These assumptions lead to a projected a peak in human population about the end of this century, slowly changing to a population decline. But the projected peak is 11 billion people, more or less, a formidable prospect, leading to speculation whether such population growth could in practice occur without causing some disaster along the way. In the model, the onset of a major disaster, generally leads to projections of earlier peaking of population and the onset of population decline rather sooner.

The Prospectus of the Global Issues Project is available from Helmut Burkhardt (h.burkhardt@rogers.com) or Derek Paul (farp@sympatico.ca)

The Wasan Action Framework

Declaration and Recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Round Table on Climate Change and Energy Strategies

13-15 Sept. 2007, Wasan Island, Muskoka Lakes, Ontario, Canada,

Sponsored by Science for Peace, David Suzuki Foundation and Breuninger Foundation.1

The first clear warnings of danger due to emissions of greenhouse gases due to human activity emerged 25 years ago. Prudence would have called for precautionary action at that time to slow down the growth in emissions of greenhouse gases. Since then, the scientific understanding of the impact of human activity on global warming has been overwhelmingly confirmed; key predictions based on that understanding have started to occur. Evidence has emerged that the potential impacts of global warming will be much worse than predicted even five years ago.

Individuals, corporations, and all levels of government around the world have a duty to act as global citizens on the basis of the danger posed to life on Earth and to the well-being of the human race as whole.

  1. We declare that human induced climate change and energy security, in particular peaking of the world oil supply are crucial issues requiring immediate action.
  2. We declare agreement with the IPCC working group 1 on the physical basis of climate change that: “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”.2
  3. We identify as the root causes of this crisis:
    a) the large per capita overconsumption and waste of natural resources in the industrialized countries
    b) the growth paradigm (economic growth for its own sake)
    c) the large and growing human population
    d) the very large dependence on fossil fuel based energy
    e) the resistance by vested interests to necessary change in energy technology
    f) the lack of appropriate political leadership
    g) the lack of global governance to protect the global commons
  4. A global solution framework
    We must begin immediately to:
    a) curb overconsumption and give priority to efficiency, conservation and the avoidance of waste
    b) promote lower birthrates by empowerment of women through educational, economic and social measures, including access to birth control information and services
    c) focus globally and locally on developing low impact renewable energy infrastructure and technologies (e.g. biomass, geothermal, hydro, ocean energy, solar, wind) to its full potential, so as to avoid large scale biofuel usage and nuclear energy
    d) reduce carbon emissions by creating a just and universal framework through the implementation of appropriate incentives, government regulation, legislation and taxation
    e) preserve forests, especially tropical rainforests
  5. Implementation of solutions: We urge that
    a) all levels of government as well as the UN and international organizations can and should embrace the Wasan Action Framework
    b) media, corporations, the educational system from kindergarten to university and all civil society should collaborate on implementing this Wasan Action Framework

Notes

1 For a list of participants, contact Derek Paul (farp@sympatico.ca). ^

2 IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Page 10.
 ^

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