Global problems in need of solutions

2013-01-27T06:00:00Z Global problems in need of solutionsBy THOMAS H. THOMPSON Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier
January 27, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Thomas H. Thompson is an emeritus professor of philosophy at UNI.


Tip O’Neill is known for his declaration: "All politics is local." Well, some politics is local. But some politics is national. And, nowadays, some politics is global. Tip is right in that most of us are focused on our neighborhoods, on our taxes, the crime rate and our job security, for example.

However there are national issues that transcend localism. The debt ceiling and a declaration of war are hardly "local." We deal with these issues remotely by electing senators and representatives, hoping that they pay attention to local issues as well as national problems. That hope is being strangled these days. The approval rating of Congress is in single digits. Think of the corruption of Senate majority rule by misuse of the filibuster.

In the 21st century global problems have emerged that demand solutions. The world is being made smaller and more connected every day. That happens with the Internet and Google and by the industrialization of formerly merely consuming nations — like China and India.

Here are some examples of global problems that are ripe for solution but which are moving forward without much realization of their threat to the human race in the near future:

Our Aging World


. According to the United Nations, the elderly folk of the world are increasing at the fastest rate ever. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be about two billion people age 60 or over. Those retirees will need support for their sustenance and their health care needs from the younger population. But the theory of the demographic transition points to a severe problem in the future. The world is moving from a condition of high mortality and high fertility to one of low mortality and low fertility. If the theory holds, there will be more and more older people and fewer younger. Who will support the needs of all these old men and women?

World Population


. In the year 1 there were some 200 million people. Now there are about 7 billion. In 2083, there will be 10 billion. What is the optimum carrying capacity of the Earth? Is there a way to put a stop to unlimited population growth?

Nuclear Proliferation


. India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel have nukes and are not parties to nonproliferation agreements. Nuclear attack and nuclear accident threaten the world, as the recent Japan meltdown illustrates. We’re all endangered.

Climate Change


. Those icy glaciers are melting. The result will be rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities. Hurricanes like those that devastated New York and New Jersey will be repeated. Droughts like those that took place in the Midwest will reoccur. Growing seasons will be modified.

The examples above are global political problems (hardly local or national), but there are no robust global goverance activities working to deal with them. The United Nations provides some hope, but its power and reach are limited. National interests in the UN tend to overpower global concerns.

I believe we need a government that deals with global problems and yet no such government is in sight. If it was in sight, I, and I suspect most other Americans, would resist its implementation on patriotic grounds. Politics, local and national, focuses on the short range, often simply until the next election.

Global problems will envelop us without solutions. The world will endure but the world will be a dangerous and nasty place.

I must face the possibility that I am being too pessimistic in my outlook. Maybe politicians will step up to the plate, deal with global problems, and put naysayers like me out of business. Maybe. Not likely. But I hope I’m wrong and it turns out that all politics is not merely local or national, but some are global.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. BIL
    Report Abuse
    BIL - February 01, 2013 3:01 pm
    You got a link to that proof?

  2. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - February 01, 2013 9:41 am
    I know how smart you aren't. Business, procreation, violence, US Constitution, firearms, climate, science.....

    But you are a good typist.
  3. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - February 01, 2013 9:40 am
    All liberals do these days is make up problems (See East Anglia emails) and ram expensive get rich quick for them schemes as phony solutions. Solyndra anyone?
  4. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - February 01, 2013 9:37 am
    Why would he? Man made global warming is a proven scam. Al Gore just cashed in onmore oil money. You're the one who's lost.
  5. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - February 01, 2013 7:19 am
    Careful freddy, you keep making uninformed comments like that and Franky_T will make a snarky comment about how smart you aren't.
  6. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - February 01, 2013 7:17 am
    Oh Franky, we're posting about things you don't even know about and don't bother to research and you make such a comment. Fine. I don't know how smart I am, but I do know on topics ranging from gun control to social security to gay rights to a woman's right to control their body and their health care, I stand with the majority of Americans on what they believe to be right path for the country.

    I'm sure you're more than satisfied with xdfred representing the "intellectual giants" of the right.
  7. Franky_T
    Report Abuse
    Franky_T - January 31, 2013 6:12 pm
    Keep posting Phil. It's really good to see intellectual giants from the left out there showing how smart they are. L-O-L
  8. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - January 31, 2013 7:19 am
    thebigguy128 - 15 hours ago
    @ Phil below:

    You're lucky it doesn't hurt to be wrong so often:

    Phil: Fine - I knew that an group existed, a group that has no designs on creating a one world government, yet that type of paranoia about the group is a commonly held belief by those on the right. An example of that can be found here:

    That's what prompted my reference about conspiracy theories.

    So if you were only referring to the group and its annual meetings, obviously I made the wrong assumption.

    However, if you were some how implying the professor favors one world government, then my reference was correct.

    Obviously only you know for sure.
  9. thebigguy128
    Report Abuse
    thebigguy128 - January 30, 2013 3:20 pm
    @ Phil below:

    You're lucky it doesn't hurt to be wrong so often:
  10. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - January 30, 2013 2:51 pm
    No whoosh, I know exactly what you meant.

    The existence of Bilderberger's is simply a conspiracy theory.
  11. thebigguy128
    Report Abuse
    thebigguy128 - January 30, 2013 12:00 pm
    whoooosh...Look up Phil. The reference obviously went over your head.
  12. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - January 30, 2013 9:02 am
    How about that global warming today?
  13. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - January 30, 2013 7:50 am
    Another thoughtful response. Are you a Sandy Hook truther too?

    But it proves why the professor is right to be concerned. Conservatives used to engage cooperatively in attempting to find solutions to local, national, and global problems.

    Now they look at ways to blame others, or even more common, spout the phrase "junk science" and pretend the problem doesn't exist.
  14. Phil
    Report Abuse
    Phil - January 30, 2013 7:44 am
    A thoughtful response typical of one whose view of the world is no doubt similar to the ostrich with its head firmly fixed in the sand.
  15. thebigguy128
    Report Abuse
    thebigguy128 - January 29, 2013 6:32 pm
    Wouldn't surprise me if the professor is a closet "Bilderberger."
  16. Brian B
    Report Abuse
    Brian B - January 29, 2013 3:13 am
  17. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - January 28, 2013 10:26 am
  18. xdfred2
    Report Abuse
    xdfred2 - January 28, 2013 8:38 am
    Looks like someone's afraid of the big bad bogeyman.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow the Courier

Most Popular

Featured Businesses

Deals, Offers & Events

Circulation Specials

E-mail Alerts

Receive daily e-mails with the top news, sports, feature stories and more from

Receive e-mails to keep you up-to-date with Northern Iowa sports.

Shop great deals, share deals with friends and save money doing what you like to do most!

Get alerts letting you know when a new ticket giveaway is available.

Get alerts letting you know of a new circulation promotion.

Receive an e-mail every Thursday with the top entertainment stories, upcoming live music and more for Pulse Magazine.

Receive emails containing great savings from local business.

Receive exciting promotions and offers from local businesses.

Today's events

  • Beckster Fest

    • Fri, May 29, 6:00 pm
    • Amana Colonies RV Park & Outdoor Events Center, Amana
  • Al-Anon

    • Fri, May 29, 7:00 pm
    • Westminster Presbyterian Church, Waterloo
  • Churchill

    • Fri, May 29, 7:30 pm
    • Old Creamery Theatre Studio Stage, Middle Amana
    • Photo