Seeking Alternatives in a Global Crisis

3.2 Some of the measures that should be adopted by the abovementioned councils of the new United Nations “System”:

Security Council

  • Nuclear Disarmament. Implement the decisions concerning progressive arms reduction (September 2009) recently agreed at an extraordinary session of the Security Council presided by President Barack Obama.
  • New strategies. New weapons. The weapons industry “colossus” must adjust itself to the world’s real security needs, ceasing to manufacture and impose on the “allies’ ” military equipment designed for past conflicts.
    • A “reasonable” level of disarmament is essential in the fight against poverty and in promoting universal access to education.7
  • Coordination to reduce the impact of natural and man-made catastrophes. It is as incomprehensible as it is unacceptable that powerful countries that are armed to the teeth are totally helpless when faced with natural disasters, even recurring ones. There already exist appropriate closely-studied measures for different types (earthquakes, floods, fire volcanic eruptions etc.).8
  • Capacity to arbitrate and resolve conflicts. When warranted, Blue Helmets and technology can be deployed proportionally in those conflicts that can’t be prevented. They would likewise have the capacity to resolve disputes involving authoritarian regimes such as China, and in inadmissible situations of dominance, as is the case of Israel with respect to Palestine.
  • Broad powers concerning legal systems that contravene human rights (the death penalty, for example).
  • Peaceful co-existence. Security forces must ensure compliance with law, progressively reducing the hugely expensive military installations that to-date represent a large part of domestic spending in addition to the armed forces, with citizens being obliged to submit to the will of the states with power. The transition from a culture of violence and war to a culture of dialogue and peace would provide not only positive benefits in welfare and quality of life, but also boost citizens’ self-esteem and reduce one of the largest and most inefficient areas of national economies. For this reason it is important to rapidly implement a genuine policy of alliances, summits and dialogues to increase transparency in relationships and behavior that at present, and unfortunately as is quite obvious, is motivated exclusively by profits, while distractedly looking the other way.
    • “It is important for us… to make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not that wounds”, declared President Obama recently in an excellent speech in Tucson, Arizona. As he likewise did in El Cairo in June 2009 when offering an outstretched hand to Islam instead of declaring it an “axis of evil” as his predecessor George Bush did, the current President of the United States is attempting both at home and abroad to prompt a genuine “change of culture”, which would have so much impact and significance on the legacy that we must leave to the coming generations.

Social and Economic Council, to achieve throughout the world:
“[The world needs] Foresight and capacity for immediate action to correct speculation and outsourcing of production, with profits that conceal precarious living and working conditions.”

  • Monetary, financial and trade regulation, especially through the corresponding, duly “remodeled” institutions (IMF, WB and WTO).
  • Immediate elimination of tax havens.
  • Strict supervision of supranational trafficking, particularly of drugs that, like tobacco and alcohol, would be available at moderate prices, since it has been proved that high prices have no dissuasive effect and only promote mafias and narco-terrorism – currently experienced by conflict-prone countries such as Mexico – especially because the largest consumers (such as the United States) insist on reducing offer (exterior) rather than demand (interior).
  • Foresight and capacity for immediate action to correct speculation and outsourcing of production,9 with profits that conceal precarious living and working conditions.
    • “The financial markets have demonstrated their nearsightedness”, wrote Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz10… “Only political change will put Europe and the United States back on the road to growth”. Only with this global capacity can foresight prevent not only the markets’ harassment of political governance but also the emergence of new “bubbles”, such as the communications technology bubble in 1993 and the real estate bubble of 2008, while preventing tax fraud.11
  • Raising funds by charging fees on electronic transactions,12 essentially to be used in the fight against poverty13 and major social objectives. Income generated by copyright of works in the public domain must also be used.14
  • Implementation of a “basic income” in ways that are most appropriate for the most vulnerable sectors of the population.15
  • Redesign global economic directives based on a new general consensus (such as the Barcelona Consensus)16 and inspired in recent practice which deserves close analysis, such as the sustainable “blue economy” expressed in GNH (Gross National Happiness) implemented in Bhutan.17
  • Economy based on sustainable global development to ensure the minimum conditions for a reasonable quality of life for all citizens. Specifically:
    • Nutrition:18
      • agriculture
      • aquaculture
      • biotechnology
    • Water:19 collection, transfer, management, and adequate production through desalinization, particularly through the use of thermo-solar energy.
    • Health: access to the appropriate technical, clinical and therapeutic services. Demographic decrease has been compensated by greater longevity, which increases chronic treatment and neuro-degenerative illnesses. Promoting preventive measures, particularly with respect to potentially irreversible diseases such as loss of mental faculties resulting from genetic or post-natal alterations, undoubtedly constitutes the greatest victory both in medical as well as social and economic terms.
    • Education: Access for all citizens to an education that would enable them to make full use of their distinctive aptitudes (the capacity to think, imagine, invent, create) based on their own reflections and without being subjected to the dictates of others.

Environmental Council

This Council would coordinate and supervise compliance with guidelines for maintaining the world’s conditions for habitability, based on important documents such as the Earth Charter.20 In that regard Leonardo Boff has written about “safeguarding our Common Home”.21 Con­taining climate change and ensuring an ecological future are our personal daily responsibility and commitment. Briefly summarized, the following matters must be addressed:

  • Sustainable energies:22 Consumption of oil and other fossil fuels that produce carbonic anhydrase and other greenhouse gases is largely the cause of climate change and environmental degradation. The greed of oil producers is manifested in the fact that for many years they have attempted to hide the negative impact of using oil as practically our sole energy source.23 In the present crisis, oil prices have played the greatest role in financial collapse, posing a serious threat to the slight economic recovery that was just commencing. It is essential to increase the renewable energy consumption levels to 40-45% within the next few years, especially in cities, using solar energy (photovoltaic and thermo-solar), wind energy, sea energy, nuclear fusion when possible and, in the meantime, nuclear fission, progressively introducing other sources such as thorium. Only then will it be possible to slow climate change before irreversible damage is done to the environment. Production of large quantities of thermo-solar energy in deserts could now be achieved with the use of graphene, obtained from an abundant mineral (graphite), which given the difficulty of storing energy would enable massive amounts to be transferred from production sites to distant places where it could be used.

Moreover, it is limiting consumption of oil and other fossil fuels that would ultimately enable us to enjoy this fundamental substrate for all organic chemistry syntheses for a longer period.

The geostrategies of “black gold” will rapidly change in a very short time. In fact, the petroleum industry’s center of gravity is now shifting toward China, Russia and Brazil.24

  • Quality of the seas: The majority of carbonic anhydride recapture takes place in the oceans in which phytoplankton, with chlorophyll (as is the case with green plants), captures the most oxidized form of carbon (CO2) together with the most oxidized form of hydrogen (H2O) and produces reduced compounds (fuels), thanks to solar energy. In consequence, deforestation must be regulated and the quality of the seas monitored; seas are presently affected by large oil tankers that, once again due to greed, discharge tank washing oil sludge into them instead of using the appropriate in-port installations, thus creating low-density oil residue on the ocean surface that asphyxiates phytoplankton cells, depleting their capacity as the “world’s lungs”. They occupy over 70% of the earth’s surface.
  • Soil quality: Particularly, regulation of the use of fertilizers and pesticides by the appropriate use of transgenics, conducting thorough research projects such as the transfer of nitrogenase systems typical in legumes to rice roots, rendering them capable of directly capturing atmospheric nitrogen, thus significantly reducing the consumption of nitrogen fertilizers.

4.1 At this point we have made concrete proposals to meet the current great challenges and to be able to commence genuine “world governance based on knowledge and scientific rigor”.
But a question immediately arises: How can the transition be made at the speed required by the most powerful from nation-­­­cen­tric governance to world governance within the framework of a truly efficient United Nations system? Until now the answer was really difficult because the intervention of citizens in public matters was very limited. But finally, in the last few decades the possibility of participation via cyberspace has opened previously unimaginable opportunities not only to strengthen democracy, but also to promote policies, strategies and actions through massive virtual mobilizations that were heretofore impossible. The enormous powers of the media25 attempt to maintain us as passive spectators, as distracted recipients, but I have no doubt – and this is our greatest present hope – that thanks to new communications technologies, citizen participation will greatly increase, intervening directly in decision-making. Citizen power and awareness of the need to speak for the voiceless, for those who are invisible,26 will provoke profound changes throughout the world.

Now more than ever, it is essential to recapture time, to eradicate the political inefficiency, detachment and indifference of so many citizens who have been badly misinformed by the partisan and biased communications media.

The outward changes required must commence with changes in each person’s daily be­hav­ior. To achieve this great historic change, each citizen must be aware that he is capable of inventing his own future, fleeing the fatalism of what is perceived as inevitable or invincible.

Only then will it be possible to achieve the “new beginning” announced in the Earth Charter as the great objective of an inhabitable world for all, without exclusions. Yes, the 21st century can indeed be the century of the people because, as in Miquel Martí i Pol’s poem, everyone will repeat: “…let me say that now is the time for love”.

7. Una crisis encubierta: conflictos armados y educación (Paris: UNESCO, 2011)
8. Federico Mayor, Normas internacionales para la reducción del impacto de catástrofes naturales Inaugural speech included in the published papers delivered during the International Conference on Natural Disasters held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of MAPFRE, Madrid, October 8-9, 2008
9. Heriberto Araujo and Juan Pablo Cardenal, “El mundo chino ya está aquí,” El País, 11th February 2011
10. Joseph Stiglitz, “¿Qué nos depara el 2011?,” Other News, 18th January 2011
11. Guillermo De la Dehesa, “¿Cómo recuperarse de la recesión?,” Revista de Occidente, no. 348 (2010): 71-90
12. UBUNTU, “¡Es la hora de aplicar un impuesto sobre las transacciones internacionales de divisas!”, Comunicado 30, September
17, 2010
13. “Manifiesto en favor de la vida, la paz y la igualdad,” Fundación Cultura de Paz, 2006
14. Propuestas de tasas de propiedad intelectual en obras de dominio público. UNESCO proposal, Meeting in Castellón, 1998
15. En tiempos de crisis, soluciones para la gente, Fundación Cultura de Paz, December 10, 2008
16. Nuevo Consenso: por un mundo habitable para todos, Barcelona, Nova and Fundación Cultura de Paz, 2011
17. Gunter Pauli, The Bhutan Blue Economy Initiative Global Signatories (Winterthur: Club of Rome, 2010)
18. Federico Mayor, “Hambre, nutrición y crecimiento: panorámica mundial,” Real Academia Nacional de Medicina 127, no. 1 (2010)
19. Federico Mayor, La gestión del agua más allá de los países (Zaragoza: EXPOAGUA, 2008)
20. Earth Charter, 2000
21. Leonardo Boff, Teología para otro mundo posible (Mexico City: PPC Ediciones, 2011), 220-230
22. Federico Mayor, “Monografía sobre el mercado de emisiones de carbono”, published in an issue of Revista de Política Exterior devoted to climate change and carbon trade (Winter, 2011)
23. “The Truth about Denial,” Newsweek, 13th August 2007
24. Miguel Ángel García Vega, “El petróleo estrena geoestrategia,” El País, 6th February 2011
25. Ignacio Ramonet, “El desastre mediático,” Other News, 29th April 2008
26. Federico Mayor, “Los invisibles,” La Vanguardia, 25th October 2007

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