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Hopeless problems, hopeful solutions

Fri, Feb 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary


1.) Humanity finds itself embroiled in regional conflicts everywhere on earth. Resource wars are being conducted even as economies contract. We have no baseline information on which to act regarding planetary atmosphere and climate change, but the incoming data look ominous. We know weather patterns are changing, and not for the better. Flooding and drought are opposite side of the same coin, and both spell disaster for agriculture.

2.) Behavioral scientists have studied rats living in crowded conditions and observed cannibalism, cruelty, and outright murder in an otherwise pacific population. It would seem humanity is also having it's 'Skinner's Box' moment these days. The latest headlines around the world report stories of unemployment and great civil unrest. It's not restricted to any one country, but is global in nature. We're fast finding the limits to human population numbers.

3.) Into this mix we have the grisly murderous scene being rehashed relentlessly in Israel/Palestine. The United States has thrown gasoline on the flames of Mideast passions for far too many years. I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Muammar al- Gaddafi of Libya, but his proposal for a one-state solution is probably the only workable solution. For those too young to recall, British mandate configured the land called Palestine to suit their petroleum designs. Inhabitants at that time( and for the last many hundreds of years) were a mixture of Moslem Arabs, Jews, and Christians...all of them living in close proximity, and in relative peace. It is not unthinkable to imagine Israelstine. It would take United Nations force and will to make it so.


1.) If climate change, resource depletion, and unemployment are the problems, then a massive UN managed global reforestation program is the answer. I'm thinking of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan woman that founded the Green Belt movement in her country. We could sure use a make-work program that addresses the critical needs of seven billion people and the stability of their planet. While we have the food and ability to transport or otherwise direct it, we should feed and provide medical care to a vast army of the dispossessed who are willing to replant the globe. Perennial crops and tree crops are advisable for a changing world. Our last real depression was softened by the employment of the CCC(Civilian Conservation Corps). Incidentally, Minnesota got some pretty amazing public works out of the deal. Witness the splendid buildings at Gooseberry Park and elsewhere.

2.) Population control is a huge un-addressed concern. China imposed a one-child policy before their wild industrial expansion. It was unpopular in the extreme, as could be expected. Ironically, it seems that prosperity and security quell the urge for large families. It's been the case in both Italy and Japan. Governments have shied away from the topic, and indeed the problem is too big for any single nation to solve. Reducing human populations will occur, whether we want it or not. Would it not be better to choose our options?

3.) The time is ripe for UN reorganization and empowerment, and to impose a globally ratified peace in the Mideast. Perhaps the UN should be headquartered near Jerusalem. Now more than ever we need global, unified and coordinated solutions to complex problems.

Brian Lavelle lives in Spring Grove, MN.

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