Global Threats, Global Futures
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Global Threats, Global Futures

Living with Declining Living Standards

Thayer Scudder

Global threats can be expected to cause a global environmental crisis and declining living standards for most people. Threats analyzed include poverty, cultural, economic, political and religious fundamentalism, consumption, population increase and degradation of the global ecosystem. Chapters on the United States, China and Zambia illustrate difficulties that high, middle and low income countries face in addressing such threats. The final chapter examines the type of transformational change required just to reduce the rate and magnitude of future decline.
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Chapter 7: Transforming Global Societies

Thayer Scudder


INTRODUCTION Current global threats will surely lower living standards during the 21st century since national governments and international institutions have neither the will nor the knowledge to address them. A major contributing cause to a majority of these threats is the single-minded pursuit of growth as measured by global and per capita gross domestic product (GDP). The 2008 Growth Report of the World Bank-assisted Commission on Growth and Development illustrates this bias. Ten of its 20 members were, or had been, ministers of finance or in charge of equivalent ministries and three were heads of major banks. The Chair was a Nobel prizewinning economist and the Vice Chair a World Bank vice president. The Commission’s focus was on how to sustain high inclusive annual growth of 7 per cent or higher over several decades. Conclusions were drawn from collaborating academic experts and the experience of 13 countries, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan, that had achieved such growth for at least 25 years since the end of the Second World War. I have emphasized in previous chapters global threats about which I am most knowledgeable – poverty, fundamentalism and environmental degradation. I have also referred in the text to other global threats associated with nuclear energy, civil strife, militarization, war, too high levels of consumption and population increase (especially in the more impoverished nations), urbanization, global climate change and the present (2009) financial and economic crisis. Other unnamed global threats exist and then there are future threats that will be...

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