Coronavirus pandemic signifies the end for greedy globalism but should be the starting point for sustainable globalism
Sunnuntai 10.5.2020 klo 17:35 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Looking at the figures showing, how coronavirus is spreading in the world, one cannot but come to one conclusion. The situation is rapidly becoming worst in countries with populistic leaders who preach nationalism. Also, most indicators of world’s present problems show that the greedy economic globalism has failed miserably, and is contributing to the possible rise of next pandemic, climate change, immigration and environmental pollution.
On the other hand, the coronavirus pandemic has shown that the world is one entity, regardless if we want it or not. Currently the virus has spread to 212 countries, and the fact that one can travel from the most remote part of the world to any centre means that the only way to avoid the spreading of this or future pests is complete isolation from the rest of the world. From this I can reach only one conclusion: the only way to have acceptable future is to start sustainable globalism.
A starting point for sustainable globalism is that human population growth must be stopped, and should actually start to decrease. This is already happening in several rich countries, but it is invariably presented as a huge problem threatening the future of the nations concerned. The population growth mainly occurs in poor nations, which were for a long time under colonial rule. Because of this, any efforts originating from the industrialized countries to curb population growth are easily viewed as tries to re-establish colonial rule. As long as the efforts are seen as the rich countries’ effort to maintain their wealth, this is an unavoidable conclusion. Thus, curbing population growth cannot succeed, if nationalistic attitude prevails: it requires understanding that it is needed for global health. Consequently, the global wealth inequality should be decreased.
Decreasing wealth inequality is largely correcting colonial injustices, which persist even today. One cannot say that the currently poor areas like Africa would be poor because of their lack of natural resources. They are poor, because the resources are not used for their benefit, but profit usually multinational companies based in rich countries. This is also true for both manufacturing and agricultural production. With regard to agricultural production, poor countries often cultivate plants which are exported to rich countries and do not feed the local population. Furthermore, the production is largely owned by companies residing in rich countries. When agricultural production is largely exported, the poor countries end up as importers of food required by the local people. With regard to industrial production, much of it is done for export. Again, the companies are largely parts of multinational ones with headquarters in rich countries. The reasons for production in poor countries is first that the salaries are very low, but also that environmental standards required for production in rich countries need not be followed whereby production costs are minimized. This type of cutting cost is the greedy economic globalism, which the true sustainable globalism should do its utmost to fight against. The solution to decreasing wealth inequality is actually quite simple. All the products from poor areas are priced as if they were produced in rich countries, and the difference in the present and future price is given to (especially women’s) education, improving the environmental standards of production and salaries. The funds cannot be given directly to the governments of the poor nations, because they are (unfortunately) often corrupt, and would just use the funds for their own benefit instead of using them for the benefit of the people.
The third part of changes, which are required in order to combat one of the grave problems, the climate change, is to stop using fossil fuels. I don’t go further in detail to it, because the two directions above will immensely help in achieving that goal, and because there are already several technological possibilities for the required change.
Why should we then do all of this? The answer is really simple: I suppose we want our children and grandchildren to be able to live in an open society. If this is our hope, we must be able to decrease the likelihood of viral transmissions from animals to humans. They have increased in frequency in recent years, because increased human population decreases the space available for animals, and consequently animal-human interactions increase. Vegetarian diet is not a solution, because direct animal-human transmissions remain a possibility. In addition to avoiding zoonosis, sustainable globalism would also decrease migrations and environmental pollution and combat climate change.
Populistic nationalism has failed miserably, profit-greedy globalism is dead: It is time for One Earth thinking
Maanantai 23.3.2020 klo 12:17 - Mikko Nikinmaa
The populistic nationalism has completely failed in all the major problems that humankind has faced during recent years. Despite this it is said that internationalism is having problems, not the populistic nationalism. The populists have utterly failed in:
1. The immigration/refugee question.
The populistic nationalism wants no immigration, as because of it resources must be used to supporting refugees instead of our own poor, sick, jobless and old people. Further, the immigrants are criminals, rapists etc – they just plan evil things all the time. The populist wants the immigrant problem to be solved in the immigrants’ home countries, but is against giving any money to foreign aid, since it would better be used in the populist’s home country.
In an ideal world, immigration would not be a problem, because everyone would be happy to stay where they live. The problem is the huge contrast with, e.g., rich Europe and poor Africa: when 25 world’s richest people have approximately the same wealth as 25 % of world’s population together, it is no wonder that poor Africans will want to migrate to rich Europe. The populist denounces such economic immigration, but in that case also the emigration of Europeans to America and Australia, the exodus of Finns to Sweden etc should be denounced, in most of those cases people were not under death threat but wanted a better life. Now the populist does not want that to be possible for other people.
Besides, many countries in Europe are suffering from so low birth rate that new people are needed. Because of the hostile attitude of populist nationalists, the integration of immigrants to western societies is quite difficult, and actually generates the breeding ground for different terrorist movements, violence and crime. The poor integration has persisted a long time, although even the populist was cheering for France in soccer world cup. This despite the fact that almost all players in French team were either themselves, or descendants of, those unwelcome immigrants. It must be acknowledged that one cannot accept the gender inequality, which is unfortunately very common, and the immigrant needs to accept the values of the society to which one is integrating. However, I am certain that if the immigrant feels welcome, and can fit within the working life, goo integration is more likely than in the hostile atmosphere created by the populistic nationalists.
2. Climate change and other environmental problems
As a starting point one must state that one cannot prevent any environmental contaminant or climate problem to cross national borders. Thus, a nationalistic approach is doomed to fail. A common claim by populist is that: “We do what is required, but those others don’t.” And in the case of small countries like Finland, Sweden and Norway that: “Our contribution to global contamination is so small that even if we stopped all our emissions, it would change the global emissions much below 1 %.” Again, the statement that European industry is cleaner than, e.g., Indian, is true, but the populist buys Indian products, because they are much cheaper than the products made in European countries. Thus, if the populist nationalist was consequent, he would spend money to make the environmental standards of factories in Asia to conform to European standards or require that production, which has been moved away, is brought back, and thereafter only buy the domestic, more expensive products. Since neither is likely to happen, populistic nationalist fails gravely in climate issues. Notably, adopting children from poor areas would be both a climate deed and an action decreasing global inequality while increasing the number of people in countries with low reproduction rate.
3. Combatting coronavirus crisis.
The spreading of coronavirus clearly shows that today it is impossible to keep any disease within one place. Yet, all the nations have reacted to the situation by closing national borders. This fits well with the populistic nationalist thinking, but is probably not the best way to contain the disease. While it is clear that closing certain areas would have been an important component of action in any case, the most appropriate areal closures would probably not have followed national boundaries. Further, it would have been much more cost-effective, if uniform testing was done everywhere, and if, e.g. European health personnel could have been moved according to needs. Also, the materials needed would have been sent where they are required, not stored within a nation in case that they are needed there later.
It is further quite important to remember that nationalism is only about 150 years old. What was Italy 200 years ago – or Germany – a collection of city states. Since populistic nationalism also fails in the most important problems that mankind has recently faced, and only appears to create hate, discrimination, inequality and always blames everyone else without even trying to create constructive solutions, isn’t it time to cast that ugly parasite from our midst so that we can try to generate a world, where everyone has a place.
Another ugly parasite is profit-greedy globalism. It has nothing to do with thinking globally. Its purpose is only to minimize expenses and maximize profits, and to avoid paying taxes of the maximized profits. The expenses are minimized on the cost of people and environment. Partly the costs are minimized by transferring production to cheap-labour countries, partly by producing materials without virtually any prevention of pollution. This way it is possible to generate profits and pay virtually no tax. I do not think it is fair that taxpayer may have to pay more than 40 % of his income as tax, but a big, successful company 0.1 %. The coronavirus crisis has now shown that this way of production is not possible in crisis situations. The supply chains have become too long, and since no stores are maintained in order to cut production costs, a final product can be 95 % ready, but cannot be finalized, because the remaining components cannot be produced, e.g. as a result of epidemy-induced breakdowns in production. Further, to save costs, the production of primary components/raw material may in profit-greedy globalism occur in one or two places in the world. If these places encounter any difficulties in production, then the final product cannot be generated.
Both the populistic nationalism and profit-greedy globalism can be combatted, if one works as united world. The One Earth-movement should work to diminish inequality – the 25 richest people in the world would hardly notice, if their wealth were halved, and used to improve the living conditions of the poor. The environmental standards of production would be brought to European level, making the environment near African and Asian places of production much cleaner than today. Some of the production would be transferred back to European countries to shorten supply chains. Rich countries would reduce their energy and resource consumption which could be correspondingly increased in developing countries, which in return decrease their population growth. These changes can make the future sustainable to the world. However, it cannot be done with nationalistic decisions, but requires united world.