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Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says No Rosy Future in Sight
Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says No Rosy Future in Sight
No Rosy Future in Sight
by Margaret Krome
Last week I was asked a hard question. I participated on a national panel that asked participants about agricultural trends 10 years and again 100 years from now. I found it hard and intriguing to imagine life 100 years from now.
Governments gain and lose power, change direction and lose direction in that time span, and social trends, both good and bad, can change dramatically more than once.
A century ago, who would have imagined the horrors of two world wars, a cold war, nuclear arms and environmental devastation, the changes from royalist to communist and every other kind of governments or the ability to fly around the globe in a day?
Still, I gave it a try. A few of my assumptions were that:
* The climatic changes currently heading toward greater and greater extremes will continue that course.
* The United States will no longer be the world's superpower, and power shifts between developed and underdeveloped nations around the globe will leave our nation less affluent.
* Renewable energies will predominate; water, not petroleum, will be a principal limiting resource and basis for political power.
* There will be growing government subsidies for resource protection.
I don't include here my assumptions about agriculture, and I made no assumptions about the political structure of the nation, public commitment to open markets, or commitment to regulations; they are simply too volatile to predict.
My first two assumptions disturbed me most. I wish I didn't believe that the world's climatic extremes will grow more, not less, pronounced, with the accompanying implications for crop failures, disease and human and ecological destruction. Yet it seems inevitable, given the challenges of creating international solutions and the time lag between their implementation and improving weather.
And I regret a conviction that no nation, dedicated to protecting its power and affluence at the expense of the rest of the world, can stay powerful. Throughout history, empires have fallen under such circumstances. I cannot believe that our nation can continue our path of tremendous over-consumption, in the face of worldwide poverty and diseases, protected only by cumbersome and expensive military might.
Nobody making 100-year predictions today will ever know if we're right or wrong. But lamentably, I find support for these two dismal assumptions in news from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I tried to imagine a news story from this summit where the United States leads in supporting renewable energy, corporate accountability and environmental commitments. Imagine if our nation signed tough environmental treaties, and lived up to them. We'd have to duck the zinging buttons popping off our shirts, we'd be so proud.
Alas, the news isn't so good. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the World Summit once again took a defensive posture about energy, world trade and climate change. Again our nation fought the European community's efforts to set targets and timetables for adopting renewable energy. And we've stonewalled against meaningful international measures to enforce standards of corporate responsibility.
Yes, there is a little good news from the summit but it's mostly that people around the globe, rather than governments or businesses, have spent this past decade taking matters into their own hands to protect environmental quality and fight world poverty.
The summit's decade-after review of U.S. policy is sad and predictable. Not surprisingly, international media at the gathering characterize our nation as irresponsible and dishonorable. Once again our leaders represented us badly internationally. It was one more step toward world isolation of our nation and my worst fears of our nation's ultimate downfall and our destruction of the global environment in the process.
Margaret Krome is a regular columnist for The Capital Times.
Copyright 2002 The Capital Times
When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:
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