While capitalism has become a staple of our economies, it is at odds with the future of sustainability that will ultimately be necessary in dealing with complex issues like climate change. Coming from a highly consumerist and capitalistic market (USA), I find that both on an individual scale and on a governmental scale we are more and more at odds with the idea of the common good vs. individual interests. So much so, that it feels like we can scarcely decipher a want from a need. What was once a want has now become a need, and individuals find it difficult to sacrifice their personal wants in favour of the societal needs that are essential to build a world in which equity is natural and not an afterthought.
For our world to function over the long-term without large scale ruin through the immediate and indirect effects of the climate crisis, it is important that we learn to give up some of our personal interests in favour of the common good. In health care that may mean that we give up on the choice to receive medical care immediately because we personally can afford it, in favour of everyone having the capacity to access basic care. In terms of utilization of resources, it may mean learning to be self-sufficient as individual nations on what we have cultivated rather than relying on resources from other countries to fuel our personal luxuries. In terms of labor, it may mean paying more for the items we buy or simply buying less so that no life is harmed so that we can purchase luxuries at a low cost.
Even on a governmental scale and specifically on a diplomatic scale, we tend to focus on needs on a nation to nation basis. Diplomacy itself is usually a byproduct of national strategy and interests. Pure aid is rarely given, and some countries are already riddled with debt from interest on previous international funding furthering a donor dependent environment. We do not merely help other nations just to help. Most international aid is usually with expectations of something in return whether that be natural resources, a military base, or the capacity to trade. However, this self-serving mindset is directly at odds with the fact that resources are finite. Earth does not have the capacity to provide infinite food, infinite fuel, or infinite water to everyone and the population is still growing so there is less and less to go around. To make things worse, climate change is reducing arable land, removing fresh water sources, and wreaking havoc on the ecosystems we depend on to function as a species. Further, since the population is still growing and growing disproportionately, resource distribution is that much more uneven.
It is unethical for some nations to get access to everything while others consistently suffer in the process. Given the unequal distribution of population to land and the unequal response to the threats of global warming making resources that much more finite, we can no longer afford to think of Earth only from the perspective of our individual respective countries. Frankly, a radical change in diplomacy needs to occur, in which we come to agreements on what is best for the planet rather than what is best for our individual nations. And we cannot come to these agreements only to be backed out of later in favour of one nation’s interests or to salvage the political reputation of a country leader. Basic resources for survival must move across borders more readily and fairly and those resources that pose a threat to our survival as a human race must be rationed with greater concern for the effect on the environment and Earth’s continued capacity to provide basic resources for future generations.
Unfortunately, we are currently not equipped to think in such a way as it is difficult to administer in the current radical political environment in which partisanship and individual thought and career progress or legacy is often the priority. That is precisely why we started Redefined Sustainable Thinking (REST). REST’s team members keenly understand the difficult nature of the political environment and particularly the international development environment. REST seeks to build an equity-based mindset in diplomacy and international development working on projects and finding solutions that are mutually beneficial and not trading one country’s capacity to meet the needs of its population for another’s.