Ideas for Actions
In addition to research, conferences, convening groups, there are many possible activities for nodes wishing to stimulate the national and global dialogue:
Option #1. Prepare lists of ten or twenty questions not being asked by the media or addressed by candidates or politicians. The questions could be selected by the nodes and mailed to the candidates asking them to respond. They could simultaneously be sent to newspapers, journalists, bloggers, etc. The responses then could be given wide distribution also. The sample questions listed below focus on the US, but can easily be adapted to Israel, Australia, China, India, Denmark, etc. While the following suggestions for “unasked questions” cover a broad spectrum of issues, they reflect the many ways human activities undermine social and environmental sustainability. Different nodes will obviously want to develop their own question lists.
1.1 Why did the U.S. government choose to give billions of dollars to the banks that caused the financial meltdown rather than to the victims who lost their jobs and homes?
1.2 What are the costs and benefits of the current “war on drugs”?
1.3 How do the social costs of economic growth compare with those of income redistribution?
1.4 How would you envision a rapid revision of the sources we use to supply society with needed energy in order to reduce the probability of catastrophic climate change?
1.5 Should politicians be able to question to scientific quality of a National Academy of Sciences document expressing a consensus view among scientists?
1.6 Under what circumstances is it appropriate for one nation to intervene militarily in the affairs of another?
1.7 How should the possible need for overseas nation-building military efforts be weighed against the need to repair infrastructure and develop clean renewable energy in the US?
1.8 What are ecosystem services and how important is it that they be preserved?
1.9 How important is it for economists to consider the depreciation of natural capital?
1.10 What do you see as the costs and benefits of the large fossil fuel subsidy to agriculture?
1.11 Do you believe that providing basic health care is a normal government function?
1.12 How would you deal with the need to revise our water-handling infrastructure to accommodate changing precipitation patterns?
1.13 The founding fathers of the U.S. were concerned about the effects of population growth on representative government. Does that concern you?
1.14 What are the pros and cons of strengthening world government and international organizations?
1.15 Assuming basic needs are met, how should society balance encouraging devotion of time to leisure activities versus to more hours of work to provide the income for additional physical consumption?
1.16 Is the global trend toward supplying more freedom of transportation with automobiles desirable or undesirable?
1.17 How should levels of taxation and the distribution of the tax burden be determined?
1.18 Are nation states the ultimate expression of human political organization?
1.19 What is education for, and is the present system fulfilling that goal?
1.20 If a global free-flow of goods is desirable, would a global free-flow of people also be desirable?
1.21 Is it contradictory to be against “big government” and in favor of more population growth? What is the relationship between complexity of government and population size?
1.22 What are likely to be the worst negative effects of climate disruption over the next decades, and what, if anything, should we be doing to prepare for them?
1.23 Do you think climate disruption, toxification of Earth, spread of incurable infectious diseases, or the possibility of nuclear wars over water or other resources are serious threats to our children’s future?
1.24 Are you familiar with the attempt of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to determine what we must do to have a sustainable society by 2050, and what do you think of their conclusions?
1.25 How many people can the world support at the standard of living of the United States?
1.26 Should the electronic media, owned by all the people, be required to give free time to all political candidates meeting certain criteria of numerical support?
1.27 What would be the ideal size for the population of the United States? How did you determine that size?
1.28 What is the ideal gap between the wealth of the top 10 percent of people in a society and the bottom 10 percent? If you do not think today’s gap is ideal, how do you propose to achieve the ideal?
1.29 Since giving equal rights and equal opportunities to women is one of the most effective ways to reduce birth rates, would you support a constitutional amendment giving equal rights to women?
1.30 Is the United States getting appropriate leadership on solving environmental problems from its universities?
1.31 Is population size an appropriate concern for governments?
1.32 Do you believe that all women should have unrestricted freedom over their own childbearing activity?
1.33 Do you think government regulators are paying sufficient attention to possible synergistic effects among the many toxic substances being released into the environment?
1.34 Are you aware that population growth has disproportionately severe impacts on human life-support systems, and what actions does this suggest to you?
An important activity that Nodes and Associates might undertake is to flood periodicals, newspapers, blogs, and the like with articles and op eds designed to raise key MAHB issues. Similar issues could be shared on call-in radio programs, discussed within nodes, explored in courses, lectures, seminars, and focus groups.
A SAMPLE OF POTENTIAL MAHB TOPICS
The role of population growth in generating climate disruption;
When and how should people accept a scientific consensus?
Redistribution of wealth: a good idea?
The limits to markets;
The limits to growth;
Eco-ethics: What are the major issues?
The significance of the I=PAT equation;
The value of ecosystem services;
Natural capital and its depletion;
Collective action, mobs, and the MAHB;
Nature versus nurture: A false dichotomy;
Reproductive rights and reproductive responsibilities;
The impact of population growth on representative government;
Cultural relativism: Should all cultures be viewed as equal?
Educating women as a mechanism to decrease the release of greenhouse gases;
Fixing environmental education;
The impact of electronic media and polling on representative government;
What the Federalist-Anti-Federalist debate can tell us about international governance;
Environmental ethics for businesses and institutions;
Why aren’t universities leading?
Repositioning the humanities and social sciences;
Literature and social survival;
The relationship between the arts and the MAHB;
Closing key parts of the culture gap with environmental education.
Human evolution and human dominance: where to now?
Animal rights and human responsibilities.