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How Six Threats Form a System Project Save the World is addressing six potential global catastrophes that could kill millions or billions of people in a short interval. We say that all six threats must be addressed with a single, comprehensive program of change — a “Platform for Survival, ” since all of them form a system of mutual causation. But not all of them cause all of the others; some interactions are potentially more dangerous than others. Here are the ones that I consider most worrisome. (If you want to comment, please go to our web site or join… Read more »

In their October 8th warning about the impending disaster of global warming, scientists at last made clear that the reduction of carbon emissions will not suffice to limit climate change to an acceptable level. Carbon must also be sucked out of the atmosphere and either sequestered or turned into carbon-free fuel. This approach is already overdue! The technology exists but needs to be promoted and vastly scaled up. Read this paper on the subject. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/carbon-engineering-liquid-fuel-carbon-capture-neutral-science/

sylvie lemieux

You might have heard about this new event scheduled in Paris in November 2018 – https://parispeaceforum.org/about/
I thought you might be interested along with our Pugwash international allies

Sylvie, this is wonderful. I have signed up for it too. I’m so glad you called our attention to it.

Yes, I think Betty-Jane and Mustafa are completely right about your values. We have many, many problems to solve besides the six we have chosen. But we cannot do everything, so we opted to address only six threats that, if they happened, would occur as sudden catastrophes that could conceivably wipe out a billion people or so. We intentionally omit chronic or gradual disasters (e.g. poverty, malnutrition, disease, overfishing) and things we cannot do much about now (e.g. being hit by a meteor). Still, there is a residual category called “Enablling Measures,” which deals with structural problems in governance, security,… Read more »

Betty-Jane Antanavicius

I thought the final draft of the platform came out well. Many thanks to those who finalized it.

Betty-Jane Antanavicius

The problem of plastics pollution was not specifically addressed, and I feel oceans awareness was lacking.

Thank you, Metta, for all your efforts in putting together “Save the World in a Hurry” and the wonderful speakers who spoke to the platform, which consisted of the 6 (six) areas of threat to the world: 1) nuclear war; 2) radiation; 3) global warming; 4) famine; 5) pandemic; and 6) cyber attacks. The important points about the 25 policies that were agreed to by all of us who attended “Save the World” on May 30 and 31, 2018 is that they are interconnected. So, while problems from one area of threat may overlap another area of threat, say global… Read more »

Excellent, Liz. Many thanks. Indeed, we must have a campaign to promote what “We Have Decided.” I presume that is the name of an organization–“We Have Decided”? I think the next phase is to organize the “outreach” part — the systematic appeal to people to sign the Platform and participate in spreading it as the document that “we have decided” to support. Thanks for participating in the Zoom conversation Sunday night. I have to say that I’m not very good at chairing meetings. (I do too much talking myself.) Maybe we’d better find someone else to chair our discussions. But… Read more »

Excellent summary, Metta !

Tom Simunovic

All ideas how to achieve permanent peace and prosperity in the world are possible if we have a global government. Without it, we are just discussing and expressing our feelings, and all will end one day with a nuclear holocaust.

Andrew Pakula

The destruction of civil society through polarization and fragmentation, amplified and abetted by global communication technologies, particularly social media, is at the heart of the multiple crises we face. This event is a highly worthwhile attempt at rebuilding civil society. The organizes deserve applause.
Andrew Pakula, Toronto

WHEN SCIENCE MEETS DEMOCRACY Academia is an “Ivory Tower” — a pristine place where you have to justify each statement with meticulous reasoning and verifiable evidence in the pursuit of truth. Democracy is “mud wrestling” — an arena of combat where you can employ emotion and rhetorical tricks in the pursuit of power. Public policymaking is mud wrestling in an ivory tower. Here you must create rational, binding solutions for the problems of a howling, ill-informed mob. It’s not easy. Science for Peace, as a public policymaking organization, conveys scientific discoveries to the masses. We admit unwashed street people into… Read more »

Thank you for explaining all of that, Metta. As a non-scientist, I was feeling a bit threatened to even show my face at this event, but after reading your post, I am confident that I will have something to add to the discussion. Looking forward to seeing you again, and best of luck with all your hard-working preparations.

Enabling Measures: Environmental Peacebuilding and Peace Parks Creation What to do with many conflict areas and military battlefields across the globe? Let us transform them into peace parks that are a great form of cross-border conservation. According to the IUCN, Parks for Peace can serve several purposes. They may celebrate the endurance of peace and the commemoration of peace in a region: for instance, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a good example of a Park for Peace established to celebrate longstanding peaceful relations between Canada and the USA. They may also help to reinforce peace and cooperation: the Cordillera del… Read more »

Rhonda Sussman

I think an anti-capitalist viewpoint would be a good place to start.

A VIRTUAL SUSTAINABLE CITY TO SAVE THE REAL WORLD Despite the high quality of life that some of the so-called developed nations have achieved, the truth is that the world, considered as a group of countries located in a fragile and geographically limited biosphere, is threatened with extinction due to human conflicts and the depredation of the environment. Notwithstanding the good and very important actions taken by groups and individuals in favor of a better world, deterioration at all levels continues to increase dangerously. After more than thirty years dedicated to these matters, and since “an image is worth a… Read more »

David Burman

This would be a very good prototype if enacted properly; that is if all stakeholders in the region had been consulted and a balance of needs (as opposed to power demands) had been considered. Then a workable, sustainable prototype could be scaled. I fear that even the best idea enacted top down will fail for lack of buy in. On the other hand it took a visionary mayor of Bogota to take huge political risk by building more transit and fewer roads to relieve traffic congestion – and came out on top, while few stakeholders initially supported him. I think… Read more »

Your actions to protect the planet from war and nuclear war are very good, but leave out one very important factor – the military corporations which promote militarism in order to maintain high military budgets for their own personal gain. I suggest to include in your actions a) support for the Global Campaign on Military Spending http://demilitarize.org/, b) support for Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign, including divestment from nuclear weapons corporations, http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org.

We are forging ahead, preparing the open forum on “How to Save the World in a Hurry” for May 30 and 31, at the Bahen Center, at the University of Toronto. I hope you’ll come. And beforehand, we all need to do some thinking about the usefulness of various possible public policies that are being proposed. For one, there’s the “Tobin Tax” — also known as the “Robin Hood Tax.” Joy Kennedy will discuss it with us in a Facebook Live lecture. If you can’t come, please watch it and send us your questions, which she will answer. It’s at… Read more »

Susan, your comments are thoughtful and wise. I don’t expect we will fulfill your wish very often just because we are busy and rushed, so we don’t do everything we might do, but your ideas are good.

Best wishes.

Susan Schellenberg

Hello again Metta I appreciate your efforts to understand and comment on my letter. The morning after I posted my ideas, I read and felt those same ideas somewhat validated in a Chris Hedges, Truthdig article called,”The Bankruptcy of the American Left” https://www.truthdig.com/articles/bankruptcy-american-left/ But, I sensed you felt I was asking the Science for Peace group to do inner work or volunteer work at some such place as CAMH. Not at all. I respect your unique mandate and work. I was solely suggesting SFP might want to broaden their audience by briefly acknowledging at their meetings or in their emailed… Read more »

Robin Collins

On the idea of “reducing armed forces by 80%”, here are some quick thoughts. I think the bulk of Canadian armed forces might be most useful deployed in UN peacekeeping missions, an important niche that we have some historical association and experience with. In terms of numbers, Cdn forces already are not large, but what should they be doing? If we embrace the “shift to Sustainable Common Security”, then we must contribute to global needs. Well trained Canadians under the UN banner are in demand. We should also be supporting the development of UN standing capacity through a new UN… Read more »

I would never want to disagree with Robin Collins. Never! But here goes: While it might be great for Canada to shift 100% of its current military into peacekeeping operations, it would not be necessary for all the countries in the world to do so, for we would then have 100 times as many soldiers on duty as would be required for any likely peacekeeping needs, or indeed all the activities of a more general UN Emergency Peace Service. So on the whole, countries could afford to reduce their military units by 80 percent and still be able to donate… Read more »

Robin Collins

Indeed one of the arguments for UNEPS and more UNPK is that they make national forces (more) redundant. So we’re not disagreeing (yet).

“Do you have a good idea to share about how to prevent disinformation campaigns on social media?”

No I do not. Primarily because you can’t stop misinformation from getting into the heads of Crazy Stupid People. You can’t yell “FIRE” in a movie theatre but you can cut and paste Pizzagate stories until your typing fingers fall off. You can’t stop Limbaugh, Hannity, and everybody else on FOX from lying in front of microphones and cameras. The Fairness Doctrine went away in 1987. In order to stop misinformation … we’d need a Time Machine.

Thank you, Susan Schellenberg, for your thoughtful and important suggestion. Your point is clearly valid: emotional wellbeing is conducive to good politics. Inner peace is certainly worth cultivating, both for its own sake and as a way of advancing “outer” peace. Each one of us has our own inner work to do in clarifying our understanding of the world and orienting ourselves to it in a more productive way. On the other hand, while emotional wellbeing and mental health SUPPORT the quest for peace, I am not sure that they are PRECONDITIONS for peace. Nor am I sure that they… Read more »

Ms Schellenberg’s suggestion merits a less dismissive and more direct reply. Perhaps Science for Peace, Ms Spencer in particular, require a level of rigour and an outcome (“single piece of paper”) to spur action, but the suggestion that, “thought becomes chemistry in the body and can also widen into communities and beyond” is a rich vein and lends itself perfectly to the holistic approach Ms Spencer says is a key goal of the forum. Many non-specialist people attending the forum may agree with Ms Schellenberg’s that “fostering of an attitude towards peace” is key to our species having a future.… Read more »

Robin Collins

I think there will be “peace project” options in the enabling measures, and possibly also in the war/weapons sections of the forum. Some of those present will certainly be “gunning” for sustainable common security — which essentially addresses the issue raised here.

Betty-Jane Antanavicius

Perhaps it is “every ones behaviour that put us there”, but each individual has the right, nay, the obligation to do what they feel is right under the circumstances. We (I hope) are not bees, to fall for the hive mentality.

Susan Schellenberg

My idea for the Science for Peace organization’s “Platform for Survival,” project does not directly involve the science aspect of your six objectives nor your mandate for hurry. My idea offers instead the fostering of an attitude towards peace making among large populations for the purpose of supporting your and other peace projects. Prior attempts to share the same idea with heads of other Canadian peace organizations, never merited replies or allowed me to feel heard. A failed outcome for which I willingly take half responsibility. But, because you asked, I hope my idea is better expressed and taken more… Read more »

Betty-Jane Antanavicius

I agree with Ms Schellenberg that the requisite work for emotional wellness, in the face of the distrIbution of “scientific” medications is, indeed revolutionary. The importance of nature as a healing power is being recognized as well.bja

Barbara Birkett

What if everyone taking part in this discussion and preparation for the conference agreed to write to theHeads of governments of the nine nuclear weapon states and the umbrella states stating that present deterrence doctrines are insane and that the nwstates must promise to take off alert status and pledge no first use as the first most urgent steps to abolition ?

Barbara Birkett

Today ‘s announcement by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the Doomsday Clock is now at Two Minutes to Midnight makes it even more urgent that we all use our creative abilities to bring hope and sanity to our planet.

I don’t know whether the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists mentioned this as part of the explanation for moving the clock’s hands, but this is definitely a scary development: The cyber experts say that it may be possible for a hacker to get into the system controlling nuclear weapons and launch one. I went to see Jon Lindsay at the U of Toronto’s Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict, and Justice studies, and he mentioned this as a topic he’s been investigating.

Robin Collins

I’d like to draw attention to an older commentary from 1996, but a very important one, by John Burroughs. He clarifies that the obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons is not tied to an obligation for general disarmament, and that the twinning of these two elements in the NPT was not intended to stall nuclear abolition while waiting for universal weapons disarmament (conventional disarmament). See: http://www.lasg.org/legal/monitor-IV.html

To review for the SfP Radiation Exposure panel:
Alexander Belyakov. From Chernobyl to Fukushima: an interdisciplinary framework for managing and communicating food security risks after nuclear plant accidents.
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. June 2015. DOI 10.1007/s13412-015-0284-2