Moving Beyond Crisis: Survival 2100 and Sustainable Security

William Rees | Movement for a Just World | June 2012

Issues:Climate change, Competition over resources, Global militarisation, Marginalisation

In a piece for the International Movement for a Just World, William Rees maps out a vision for what he calls ‘Survival 2100.’ The goal of such a strategy would be “to engineer the creation of a dynamic, more equitable steady-state economy that can satisfy at least the basic needs of the entire human family within the means of nature.” The alternative, Rees argues is to “succumb to more primitive emotions and survival instincts abetted by cognitive dissonance, collective denial, and global political inertia.”

The call from Rees echoes the sentiment coming from many different – and often unusual – quarters that are responding to the major implications for security and survival of the combined ecological, political and economic crises that either characterise or are looming in the international system.

While some of the ideas in the piece may need some further thinking through (eg. “The world community will have to agree to fund worldwide social marketing programs to ameliorate “pushback” and bring the majority of citizens on board” – ie. people will need to fund a campaign to convince themselves!), the fundamental focus is sound. Rees identifies the need for a genuinely strategic approach to the governance and management of the global environment and the global economy. Once one thinks through the real costs of inaction on issues like climate change (global insecurity and a greater potential for conflict is but one such cost), the costs that we account for in global market failures take on a different character. Rees argues that “As any good economist will acknowledge, government intervention is legitimate and necessary to correct for gross market failure. Indeed, resistance to reform makes hypocrites of those who otherwise tout the virtues of market economies. Truly efficient markets require the internalization of heretofore hidden costs so that prices tell consumers the truth.”

Such ideas are not radical at all, simply a reflection of doing the sufficient cost-benefit analysis that planning for long-term survival requires. Therefore the message for national defence planners is clear –attempting to ‘maintain control’ over global insecurity is ultimately futile, the time to put the principles of prevention and sustainability at the heart of national security planning is now.

The full article on the JUST website is available here.

Image source: hundrednorth.


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