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The Next World War

The Next World War: Tribes, Cities, Nations, and Ecological Decline

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    The Next World War
    Book Description:

    Preoccupied with the war on terrorism, we have lost sight of a more dangerous enemy of social peace and progress ? the inability of the world's people to access the ecological goods and services they need to maintain and build their societies. By 2025, the combined demands of continued economic growth and the reduction of global poverty will require, annually, the ecological equivalent of three or four Earths. If history is our guide, the options for meeting these enormous 'provisioning' needs are extremely limited. Like the tribes, cities, and nations of earlier times, we can fight our neighbours for privileged access to declining ecosystem goods and services. This confrontation will inevitably pit the wealthy beneficiaries of the global economy against the billions of excluded, and lead to accelerated ecological collapse, the derailment of growth, and social chaos. The only alternative to this dismal prospect is to mobilize on a scale as if for war in order to meet this provisioning challenge on the battlefields of directed technological innovation.

    InThe Next World War, Roy Woodbridge argues that the international community must redirect present sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts in ways that place the provisioning of societies at the heart of political decision-making. To move this highly focused agenda forward, he calls on the United Nations to convene a World Forum on Global Provisioning to declare war on ecological decline and set the battle plans for the next world war ? the war to equitably provision continued growth.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8189-7
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. Part I The Enemy Is Ecological Decline

    • Chapter 1 A Shift in the Angle of Vision
      (pp. 3-22)

      In a world fixated on the ‘war on terrorism’ and on a thousand other issues of varying consequence, we are losing sight of another enemy that is now in the advanced stages of mobilizing for a devastating assault on human societies.

      The enemy is ecological decline. This enemy has given the world ample evidence of its lurking intent, but the scale of the threat it poses for economic and social security has yet to permeate the public consciousness. The following discussion is intended to make the nature of this enemy crystal clear and the case for mobilizing in specific ways...

    • Chapter 2 Provisioning Societies
      (pp. 23-36)

      The idea of writing a book around the concept of organizing to provision societies had its genesis a couple of years ago, when I first penned these words. I was sipping a cappuccino in a cafe in Ottawa’s Byward Market, having just returned from a meeting in Washington called to ‘mainstream biodiversity.’ The participants there had generally failed to make the protection of biodiversity relevant to representatives from several industry sectors. It seemed obvious that the global dialogue on sustainable development was being stymied by the binding requirement that all companies and nations must compete in the growth game. The...

  5. Part II From Common Genes to the Global Economy

    • Chapter 3 Round One: The Spread of Hunter-Gatherer Societies
      (pp. 39-48)

      Some 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago, long before the formation of the ozone layer that allowed land-based life forms to survive lethal ultraviolet radiation from the sun, life on earth began under water. It then took some 3 billion years to create the profusion of plants and animals that now occupy the oceans of the world. It was not until around 450 million years ago that the first plants appeared on land, followed quickly by spiders, mites, and insects. It took another 350 million years for this planet to develop the tropical rainforests in which half of all species...

    • Chapter 4 Round Two: The Rise and Spread of Agricultural Societies
      (pp. 49-58)

      Around 10,000 BC, shortly after the Clovis people crossed from present-day Siberia into Alaska and began their southward migrations, the first settled, agricultural societies began to compete with hunter-gatherer clans and tribes for the control of land. Within the space of a little more than 12,000 years, the Second Round of provisioning - the organization and spread of societies that relied on agricultural output to meet social requirements for natural capital - had eliminated much of the linguistic and cultural diversity of hunter-gatherers and confined the few surviving groups to diminishing pockets of land - land that is generally unsuitable...

    • Chapter 5 Round Three: Urbanization
      (pp. 59-79)

      The Third Round of organizing to meet provisioning needs is the story of the emergence and global spread of cities and their role in securing inbound flows of natural capital and in drawing on other ecological resources to absorb urban wastes.

      There is nothing natural about cities: they are human constructs. Everything in them is made from natural capital, and everyone living in them is totally dependent on access to ecological goods and services. Cities are the ultimate concentrators of natural capital consumption. They are scavengers that live off flows of natural capital derived from other regions. The relative success...

    • Chapter 6 Round Four: From City-States to Nations
      (pp. 80-99)

      The Fourth Round of global provisioning involved the rise of nation-states and the evolution of their role in securing access to essential flows of natural capital.

      The first ‘nation’ in the modern sense of the word may have been China, whose autonomous regions were forcefully united under Emperor Ch’in Shih Hwangti in 211 BC. A similar transition may then have occurred in Korea, followed by Japan, which framed its first national constitution in AD 604.

      The global spread of nations truly began with events in Europe in the Middle Ages. The gains in European agricultural productivity that led to population...

    • Chapter 7 Round Five: Reliance on Global Business Networks
      (pp. 100-116)

      The Fifth Round in the global organization of arrangements for provisioning societies is the story of how private-sector companies came to be the preferred vehicles for securing the inbound flows of natural capital required to meet the consumption needs of societies, for overseeing the processes of technological innovation and the diffusion of technologies and management practices required to augment these flows. It is also the story of the growth of free-market economies and in the size of corporations, and of the emergence of multinational enterprises (MNEs).

      In discussing this transition to Round Five, I have focused on the period since...

    • Chapter 8 The Organization and Potential of Round Five
      (pp. 117-136)

      Round Five has been the outcome of two things: a shift in reliance for social provisioning from nation-states to private-sector organizations; and the steady adoption by nation-states around the world of the common policy and structural adjustments required to bring national actions into line with the new realities of international market interdependence.

      The First and Third Worlds are now permanently locked together. To continue to grow, the advanced economies are going to have to help the Third World grow. This will require the transfer of technologies and investment as well as reciprocal market access. Nations are being integrated into global...

  6. Part III The Twenty-Five-Year Challenge to Growth and Social Stability

    • Chapter 9 From Egalitarian Tribes to Global Inequity
      (pp. 139-164)

      On the surface, the biggest threat to economic security is social instability. Because societies rely on flows of natural capital for provisioning, the biggest underlying threat to social stability, and thus to growth, is ecological disruption.

      So what lies down the road? Is growth resolving the problem of inequitable distribution? How do issues of equity cross-link to ecology and what does this portend for social stability? Is the world approaching, or even exceeding in some respects, its ecological limits? Can we expect growth-ending ecological failures? Where does the truth lie? Indeed, is it possible to even talk about ‘truth,’ or...

    • Chapter 10 Ecological Roadblocks to Growth and Poverty Reduction
      (pp. 165-204)

      The evidence of ecological decline is well documented. For example,People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life, a collaborative report by the WRI, UNEP, the UNDP, and the World Bank, concludes that there are many signs pointing to the declining capacity of the world’s major agricultural, coastal, forest, freshwater, and grasslands ecosystems. It suggests that all of these systems are suffering from the effects of human activity, and it concludes: ‘The current rate of decline in the long-term productive capacity of ecosystems could have devastating implications for human development and the welfare of all species’¹

      The one apparent bright...

    • Chapter 11 The Catalysts of Calamity
      (pp. 205-218)

      In the previous sections I looked independently at trends in global equity and ecological instability. In this section I look at how they can interact to precipitate social conflict.

      The apparent rise in violent human conflict around the world has led to a growing debate among analysts over how ethnic, cultural, and religious differences, together with poverty and to a lesser extent ecological scarcity, are contributing to global tensions and diminishing the prospects for economic and human security.

      In this chapter I draw on this analytical work. However, I argue that the notion of provisioning societies provides clearer explanations for...

  7. Part IV The War to Provision the World

    • Chapter 12 Our Common Enemy
      (pp. 221-229)

      The world community must declare war on ecological decline and mobilize global resources to fight this war.

      This war must be fought to stabilize the human prospect on earth. The survival of natural systems is the reason for fighting the war, but nature is not the enemy and the war is not being fought to further bend natural systems to meet human needs. Rather, it is a war to bring about dramatic changes in the ways human societies provision themselves in conditions of global ecological scarcity. This will not be a conventional war fought with weapons of mass destruction. It...

    • Chapter 13 Mobilizing Nations for War
      (pp. 230-249)

      As nation-states place themselves on a war footing, they will need to mobilize to fight on each of the six battlefields of innovation. They will need to encapsulate the vision of innovation for ecological sustainability in specific national war objectives and program thrusts and these will have to be supported by policy tools and tactics that are appropriate to each of these battlefields.

      In the energy field, most nations already have the semblance of a battle plan. The drivers here include long-standing market forces - including the health and environmental side effects of fossil fuel production and use - and...

    • Chapter 14 Mobilizing the International Community
      (pp. 250-260)

      Regardless of the desire of nation-states to mobilize for the war on ecological decline, the scope and effectiveness of their efforts will be limited in the absence of international co-ordination. Ecological decline must be fought on a global basis.

      This is more than just a matter of generating the national political will to wage war. It is a reflection of the fact that we live in a world in which the ecological and economic links between nations are increasingly strong. This reality constrains the scope for independent national action. It creates a ‘not me first’ syndrome that can only be...

    • Chapter 15 Round Six: The Age of Global Provisioning
      (pp. 261-278)

      The fundamental challenge now facing the global community is to find the means to provision societies in conditions of global ecological scarcity. The world must quickly make the transition to new technologies and new patterns of social organization if it is to succeed in securing access to the ecological goods and services on which growth, poverty reduction, and social peace all depend.

      The world has evolved through five rounds in provisioning arrangements. These have culminated in the Fifth Round, our present global economy, which relies disproportionately on the organizational strength of international business networks and New Economy technologies to access...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 279-296)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-318)
  10. Index
    (pp. 319-328)