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08 Apr 13 12:42

Important thoughts by Professor Julian Savulescu - "Can changing our human values create a better future?" He addresses climate change, poverty and more and argues that they are chiefly by "human choice". Watch the clip - lots of good food for thought. Can we, globally, define fresh human values?

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Gilles Renouil - 19 Apr 2013, 4:43 p.m.

Great video. But is it really a new set of value we need or do we just need to rediscover the sense of community as "we are one planet"? For example can I tell my Chinese friend, he should not drive a car because it will make climate change worse? Would that not be just unfair?
Growing economies have the same rights in progress but biologists know growth with no end does not exist in Nature - except for cancer cells I suppose, so perhaps the new value is that we have to learn to shift quantitative growth into qualitative growth. Life quality would not be impaired. Look at Japan, the economy there has hardly grown in the last decade, but they have the highest life expectancy, best infrastructures...

Gavin Montgomery - 2 May 2013, 11:24 a.m.

I'd argue that the values are already established. In principle, people do value the environment and do have a sense of community. Most people also have some kind of investment in the future and have an incentive to ensure a sustainable outcome for themselves, their children, families, etc. To my mind, the missing elements are a sense of agency and a sense of urgency. Most people don't feel that they can make a difference and, individually, they're not wrong. Every Swiss resident could reduce their energy usage and waste output but the net effect would only be a drop in the ocean when compared to the huge growth in demand for energy and resources from the emerging middle class in rapidly industrializing economies. In most of the developed world, real wages have been under pressure for decades so consumers rightly feel threatened by the rise in their cost of living implied by mitigation action. The environmental movement has also done a very poor job of communicating what is at stake (and there are a lot of reasons why this is so) or providing long-term solutions. Governments, meanwhile, seem to have become addicted to meaningless targets which have led to some pretty hair-brained decisions, like subsidizing corn ethanol in the US or the EU ETS carbon trading system which bankrupted Europe's clean and efficient steel and glass industries and drove production offshore to countries with far lower environmental standards, an act of inconcievable regulatory sabotage. The reality is that there is a clear lack of sensible governance, as evidence by the repeated and embarassing failure of the UNFCCC to deliver a meaningful global agreement on climate change in 18 years. Does anybody really expect anything useful to come out of COP 19 in Warsaw this July? I'm not holding my breath.

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