Surviving and Achieving Sustainability by Following a Fundamental Principle and asking the Right Questions

A paper prepared for the 53rd Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs


This paper examines values, and introduces a superordinate principle, the Principle of Life as a basis for a new paradigm. It looks at the major interrelated threats to human civilization: overpopulation; war and militarism; climate change; contamination pollution and waste; counterproductive myth, the world’s socio-economic system(s) and the phenomenon of overdeveloped male dominance. Attention to all these areas will be needed to avert a demographic catastrophe this century, or major war. The abolition of military establishments and of militarism, always desirable, is now seen to be essential. Since early 2002, the United States has announced four new projects and policy postures amounting to a declaration that it is now the ruler of an empire. International responses to the new situation have yet to be formulated, and they will need to be imaginative, peaceful, collective, determined, and preferably nonconfrontational. By contrast, the fact that the new empire has shown itself to be militarily undefeatable makes the response in terms of armament and disarmament different from the overall political response. Thus, unilateral disarmament by some nations makes more sense than it has done since warfare first began 6300 years ago. The more countries achieve general and complete disarmament unilaterally, the easier it will be for the others to follow suit. Application of the Principle of Life needs most to be developed for those areas that feature human-human interactions on a large scale – where it is currently least well understood how to apply it. Many important and vital changes can be deduced from it, through, for example, examining conditions that would prevent the recurrence of Third World debt following debt forgiveness. Profound changes will be needed so as to permit economic success in a world where industrial growth must of necessity come to an end. Economic growth can be allowed to continue, but it cannot be based on increasing extraction, manufacture and consumption, and paving over good agricultural land. In measuring economic growth, net domestic product rather than gross domestic product should be used as the financial indicator.

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