This I Believe

John - Los Gatos, California
Entered on September 19, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I Believe in the Power, and the Possibility, of International Peace

My parents were good about explaining things. I was especially interested in why there are wars. But the formative moment came when a little farm at the edge of town was replaced by a housing development. My parents explained that was expected—mankind consumes more and more of the Earth.

“But what’s the plan?” I asked. “Who’s making sure life gets better, or is even able to continue?”

And I remember the cold empty horror I felt when they said there really is no plan.

But there could be one:

1) Population could be stabilized using incentives. Everyone, world-wide, could have as many children as they want, but perhaps those having 2 or less would get a retirement plan, and those having only one child would get free college tuition also. No coercion, just incentives.

2) Resource use could be sustainable by including the environmental costs in the prices paid for goods and services. If gasoline cost $15 per gallon, solar panels on the roof to recharge your battery-powered car might look much more attractive than they do now. Those “sin taxes” could be used to encourage and hasten efficient technology. And if there were a refundable one dollar deposit on every aluminum soda can, we probably wouldn’t continue to get 60% of our aluminum from raw ore, while throwing away enough aluminum to replace all our commercial aircraft every three months.

3) Almost all energy used could be renewable. By definition a sustainable system cannot rely on using up stored substances, or dump permanent waste products into the system. Energy from Wind, Solar, Biomass, and Geothermal, and much more efficient lights, motors, and vehicles could achieve this goal, provide high paying jobs in the process, and free us from greenhouse gas buildup and dependence on foreign oil.

(And most important)

4) War and imperialism could be made illegal and obsolete, replaced by an international government with real power, so no nation and no person is above the law.

After the American Revolutionary War, the former colonies were afraid to trust each other as much as states do now. They formed a central government too weak to be effective. A few years later, with a lot of discussion, worry, and negotiation, they formed the stronger government we have used since with such good results. Just as our Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, a similar Constitution could replace the United Nations with a stronger international government– perhaps The United States of the Earth.

I believe “that brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those who profit by postponing it pretend.” – That international peace is, in fact, the keystone of environmental sustainability, and absolutely essential for our species to continue on this planet.

I believe that human nature is rife with greed and cruelty. But we are also adept at rational analysis, and cooperation. We know both sides can win by sharing savings from not having to fight . A carefully-checked-and-balanced international government would provide a peace dividend of nearly a trillion dollars per year. It would also provide the level of international cooperation necessary to solve environmental problems, and would make us, and our descendants, happier, safer, and more secure than we are now.

I believe in the power, and the possibility, of international peace.