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Handbook on Critical Global Issues and Viable Solutions

Presentation at the World Peace Forum, Vancouver, June 23-28 2006

Based on cumulative results of the biennial Interdisciplinary Conferences on the Evolution of World Order 1996-2004
at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Helmut Burkhardt, Professor of Physics Emeritus, Ryerson University
Rose Dyson, President, Canadians Against Violence in Entertainment (C-CAVE)
Julia Morton-Marr, President, International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC)
© Council on Global Issues, Toronto


Political, social, economic and individual choices must be inside of the realm allowed by the laws of physics in order to be successful. This basic principle was clearly recognized by the Swedish founders of the Natural Step movement [1].

Sometimes, however, the scientific predictions are uncertain due to the complexity of an issue; in these cases uncertainty is equally great for both, those who accept and those who deny the scientific prediction. An example for such a situation is anthropogenic nature climate change. Those who deny that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are the cause for global warming are equally uncertain as those who accept that thesis. If the thesis is false, and we accept it, heeding caution will cause economic hardship, but if the thesis is true, denying it will cause irreversible damage to the vital ecosystem with catastrophic consequences for human civilization; therefore, it is imperative in such situations that decision makers apply the precautionary principle [2]. In several countries law prescribes the application of the precautionary principle.

What can be said about the present state of the world? Human civilization is endangered by anthropogenic environmental degradation, and by destructive social and individual conflicts. A collapse of civilization is possible through nuclear weapons, and through loss of vital environmental resources. The current human activities are worsening the situation.

Security once depended on military strength of a nation. The advent of nuclear weapons has ended this option; now military might leads to mutual assured destruction, and therefore the resolution of conflicts by the rule of international law has become a necessity.

The use of fossil fuels has advanced technology-based civilization to unprecedented levels. However today, we begin to realize that the consequences of our energy choices may lead to climate change, and the demise of fossil fuel based civilization.

Long term systemic thinking and appropriate action at the global and local levels are urgently needed for achieving sustainability, and civility in the world community. Sustainability is the overarching issue; it rests on three pillars: ecological, societal, and personal integrity.

Priority Issues: Threats to Technology-Based Civilization

Loss of personal integrity

Billions of human beings on the planet are unhappy due to their inability to satisfy their basic personal needs as defined by A. Maslow [3]. Poverty is a threat to personal integrity. It is frequently accompanied by basic physical problems such as malnutrition, inappropriate shelter, and unsanitary environment causing disease and death. Personal well-being is threatened by violence, chemical pollution, pandemics, and climate change.

Loss of societal integrity

War and terrorism within and between nations is a critical global issue. An all-out nuclear war causing a nuclear winter would be a catastrophe for humankind; it would not only create social chaos, but ruin the life-supporting ecosystem beyond repair [4]. The devastating power of existing nuclear weapons is illustrated by H. Willens [5] in Fig. 1.

The risk of such an event is at present unacceptably high due to the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert, and due to a policy of launch on warning. The threat is further increased by some nations’ stated or clandestine policy of first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict situation. Nuclear weapons proliferation gives malevolent states and even terrorists the power to stir up the international social structure. The consequences for all nations are serious.

The United Nations in its present form does not have sufficient support to establish a global rule of law. Nations resist giving up parts of their sovereignty to a global authority; therefore the UN cannot prevent wars between nations, civil wars, or global terrorism. Blockage of the UN reform by jingoistic, self centered nations hamper the evolution of a desirable world order, and create a threat of fatal nuclear wars.

Poverty and resource scarcity are other critical social issues. The gap between the rich and the poor is wide, and growing. Without a fair distribution of wealth, peace is threatened.

Pandemics are a threat to social structures as well. Global travel by humans and migrating birds can spread a disease right around the globe. Our health care systems are insufficiently prepared to cope with this situation. The social fabric of a country can be destroyed by disease. At present, grandparents care for many of the children in Aids stricken regions. In the next generation, however, there will be children without living parents or grandparents.

All these issues have the potential to create global chaos, and the collapse of our technology based civilization.

Fig. 1: Explosive power at the disposal of nuclear weapons states in 1984. Each dot represents the total amount of explosives used in World War II. [5]. Given the lethality of today’s weapon systems, military strength is no longer a meaningful option for achieving national security. The resolution of conflicts through war between sovereign nations is an anachronism.

Loss of ecological integrity

Healthy ecosystems are the major supplier of vital resources to humans [6]. Scarcity of resources from the environment -- be it clean air, water, food, energy, or land -- leads to violent conflicts within nations, and to war and terrorism between nations [7]. Rwanda, the Sudan, and the Middle East demonstrate how violent conflicts emerge indirectly from an ecological deficit.

Already today, 150 major nations of the world show an ecological deficit. Taken together, the ecological footprint of all nations in the year 2001 is some 20% bigger than the ecological capacity of the Earth [8].

Figure 2: Global ecological footprint of humankind and biocapacity of the Earth [8].

Food and water shortage are fundamental problems. Famine in parts of the world used to be a problem of food distribution. This is no longer the case. As world population grows there is an increased threat of global food shortage [9], [10].

A human monoculture without the support of other species is not viable. Anthropogenic, human caused mass extinction of species is a threat to human survival [11]. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment project reports on the loss of species in the last 30 years of the 20th century [12]. Fig 3 is a graphic representation of the results. A good website on mass extinction is available [13]

Present energy practice creates a critical global issue due to the fact that the world energy system developed historically on the basis of fossil fuel resources, which are limited, and their use is causing severe damage to the environment such as climate change, and pollution.

Fig 4 shows the measured global surface temperatures since 1860 CA [14].

Fig. 3 Loss of Biodiversity. Decline of population in some 1000 terrestrial, marine, and freshwater species around the world according to Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Synthesis Report on Biodiversity p 47 [12]

Fig. 4: Measured global surface temperature 1860 to 2001. [14]

Root Causes of Problems

Problems are sometimes created by geological or by cosmic events such as earth quakes, volcanic eruptions, or the collision of Earth with a comet, which is a rare event. However, many of the global problems are manmade. Examples include the growth paradigm, narrow Darwinism, local and short term self interest, false notion of national sovereignty, political correctness, hypocrisy, biased notions of justice, religious intolerance, elitism, master race or the chosen people syndrome, gender imbalance, values distortion due to commercial exploitation of children.

Greed, intolerance, and other deadly sins

In general, individuals lack education and skills in critical thinking that would enable them to include global and long term issues in their minds; many are driven by natural instincts to procreate, consume goods, and use cheap inappropriate technology; many are misguided to violence, consumerism, by irresponsible media representing vested economic interests. Media illiteracy is common.

Traditional ethics have failed to give a universal definition of the ‘good’. Fundamentalist religious teachings contribute to people’s problems. Each religion is presented to believers as the absolute truth; unfortunately, this plants the seed of intolerance against other religions with different views. A religion telling its believers that they are god’s chosen people is as dangerous as the master race syndrome. A set of universal values is missing.

The Universal declaration of Human Rights by the UN is of much help to those who are suppressed. However, a Universal Declaration of Human Duties was not issued at the same time. This has led to a culture where individuals are quick at demanding their rights to food, and shelter, while forgetting their duties, their responsibility for the global commons. Without placing global and local sustainability at the core of people’s mindset, humanity is on a path to self-destruction. Traditional curriculum needs updating to include global sustainability content.

Faulty Social Structures: Absolute sovereignty of nations

Absolute sovereignty of nations is an anachronism, which causes violent conflicts and wars. The big nations, in particular, claim sovereignty, act in a selfish manner, and do not acknowledge world law and regulations.

There is a systemic flaw in the practice of local democracies. Elected politicians have a time horizon to the next election. Therefore, the local and short-term issues dominate the system due to the need of politicians to win elections. Long-term and global issues are neglected to the detriment of the people. The political leverage of financially strong corporations has an undue influence on governments, and the election of politicians. Thus, the basic idea of democracy of one person one vote is lost; instead, vested interests combined with mass media power determine the outcome of elections. The purpose of both, corporations and government is to serve the people, and that tends to be forgotten.

An unregulated economic system such as a totally free market is intrinsically unstable and leads to economic inequity and injustice. The over-regulated communist system does not fare much better; total equality is unnatural, it does not stimulate personal responsibility. A golden path in the middle may correct the faults of both.

The lack of full spectrum global and local justice causes many of our problems. Full spectrum justice means a fair distribution of, population, environmental and economic resources, and social services and obligations.

Media are compromised by having to earn money. Information, propaganda, advertisements, popular culture, and the news, which all come under the rubric of mass media, are shaped and compromised by dominant corporate interests focused on profits. In the process, truth is sacrificed to what sells: violence and fashionable political correctness. Sustainability messages are absent because themes involving long term human benefits do not sell as quickly or as cheaply. Thus, the huge potential of the media, as the greatest educator the world as ever known, is either misdirected or lost entirely.

Urban centers and nuclear power installations create concentrated political power. Therefore these issues are favoured by politicians. However, they are dependent on non-local resources, and create vulnerable spots within a nation.

Overpopulation, over-consumption, inappropriate technology

A ubiquitous growth-is-good paradigm dominates politics and economics. While a growth philosophy was appropriate for past eras of human development, it is now a dangerous, misguided mindset. However, a shift to a sustainability paradigm is not happening and we get deeper into global ecological deficit. Unless we abandon the growth philosophy, and aim at stability, resilience, and dynamic equilibrium between humanity and the ecosystem, we are doomed.

Population is one of the major factors causing the global ecological deficit. As human population is growing, the habitat for other species is diminishing. Rational management of human population to match the carrying capacity of the land is desperately needed.

Consumerism is the second major factor for damage to the global ecosystem. The notion of contraction and conversion was developed for energy use during the Kyoto negotiations. However, it is not practiced in regards to energy, other resources, or population and that causes continued damage to the global environment.

The third major factor in humankind’s excessive environmental impact is the use of inappropriate technology. While the steam and combustion engines were a blessing relieving humankind from hard labour, the associated burning of coal and oil is today’s curse, causing pollution and climate change.

One additional reason for the increasing danger of the collapse of our technology based civilization is in not heeding the message in the precautionary principle. Complex global and long-term processes cannot be predicted with accuracy. Hence there is a need for applying the precautionary principle to avert disasters.

Viable solutions

A set of universal values is needed to judge actions taken. Protecting existing life and the procreation of life are of biological necessity, primary values. All other practical and cultural values are instruments for the achievement of primary values. The ecological instrument is a healthy web of all life forms; social instruments are peace and justice; individual instruments are the basic necessities of life, healthcare, education, intellectual and spiritual development.

The sustenance of the life of the individual, the family, the local and global community is the ‘universal good’. Peace, justice, and a healthy web of life in the global ecosystem are necessary instruments to achieve this goal.

Human Rights, Human Responsibilities, and the Earth Charter

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a milestone in protecting personal integrity [15]. However, those whose rights are guaranteed must not forget that rights are given to humans by humans; with rights we must assume responsibilities. Nearly 50 years later, the Interaction Council proposed a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities [16]. An excellent guideline for a responsible world citizen is the Earth Charter [17].

The challenge for religious leaders, educators, and responsible media is to make individuals aware of their rights, but also of their responsibilities. Good citizens provide for their own needs, and care for the well-being of their fellow humans, for peace, and full spectrum justice. They have respect for all life, and are stewards of a healthy ecosystem.

Each individual is, imbedded in a social structure, and in an ecosystem. Therefore, the individuals are interlinked with their environment, and their well-being is often influenced by circumstances beyond their control.

The science of peace

Since the invention of nuclear weapons, peace has become a necessary condition for human survival. Fortunately, peace is also possible since humankind has a long tradition of making peace.

Today, cities live in acceptable levels of internal and external peace; similarly provinces have internal and external peace. Most healthy nations manage to create internal peace. The European Union has achieved an acceptable level of internal peace and with it the gift of external peace for its member nations.

The common features of the entities who have achieved internal peace is that they have a government. The traditional well functioning governments are characterized by three independent powers: a legislative power, jurisprudence, and an executive power.

Those entities that have achieved external peace have in common that they have traded parts of their sovereignty for external peace; they are imbedded in a bigger entity, which regulates their relation to other entities at their own level. The relationship between municipalities, for example, is regulated by provinces, the relationship between provinces is regulated by the nation, and the relation between European Nations is regulated by the European Union.

Achieving internal peace in a continental region by follow the European example can result in governments with legislative power, jurisprudence, and executive power for any continental region. Similarly, for internal peace in the world we need a world government of this kind that regulates the relationship between continents or large nations. As this planet has no external hostile entities to deal with, this will be the end of war.

J. Rubin in 1991 [18] points to the difficulty of creating peace in this manner: “To accomplish this end, it is necessary to find a way of making states subordinate to a higher authority. States and their leaders should be obedient to a unified world law the way that individuals are obedient to local laws. (This) is the most radical solution to the problem of war, and being radical, it is not a popular option”.

The mandate of global government needs to be clearly defined in order to disperse the ‘big brother’ notion of a global tyranny. The tasks of a global government are: to regulate the relationship between nations or continental unions, and to manage the global commons for the continued availability of vital resources. A global government should have the power to levy global taxes on the use of the global commons. The proposed ‘Tobin tax’ is an example.

It is appropriate for a world government to practice the subsidiarity principle: i.e. delegate all non-global issues to the appropriate level of local governments. The principle of subsidiarity means that what the lesser entity can do adequately should not be done by the greater entity unless it can do it better. Global government is a rational expansion of the nested hierarchy of entities from municipal, county, province, and national governments upward to the continental and global level of government. There are horizontal and vertical relations of various level governments as shown by the ‘Peace Matrix’ in Appendix 1.

Managing the global commons means regulating the use of space, the atmosphere, the oceans, Polar Regions, and designated rainforest areas. Without a global government the global commons is subject to ruthless exploitation by selfish nations, as demonstrated by climate change and the collapse of ocean fisheries.

A world government can establish global justice based on the principle of contraction and convergence; it was developed during the Kyoto negotiations on fair global use of fossil fuels. This principle is a good guide to full spectrum global justice, if applied to all factors that cause damage to the ecosystem. We need contraction and conversion of consumption rates, and contraction and convergence of birth rates, contraction of inappropriate technology and convergence to appropriate technology world wide.

For the sake of peace, and their own security, all nations must submit to international law, they must recognize the existing world courts, and give full support to the UN controlled multilateral world police. The rule of international law has become a necessity to remove the Damocles sword of nuclear war from humanity.

Managing humankind’s ecological footprint

It is the world government’s responsibility to steer the process of change in the global commons through legislation and regulations. By imposing fines on illegal environmental actions, taxes on undesirable processes and by giving financial incentives to desirable processes of change governments contribute to the protection of the global commons. All factors that contribute to humankind’s ecological footprint need to be managed.

Population management is a politically sensitive issue, as procreation next to life itself, is seen instinctively and legally as a fundamental human right. Any interference by government is seen as an injustice. However, given the present state of the world, it has become a necessity. In fairness to all, contraction and convergence of birth rates for all nations to a globally sustainable level is the solution recommended for the population question.

The rate of consumption of resources and services is a major factor in human impact on the environment. A regulation of consumption has become a necessity. Again contraction and convergence in the resource and services consumption is recommended as a solution, which is fair to all.

The choice of technology is the third major factor that determines humankind’s footprint. Inappropriate energy technology is responsible for climate change, and needs special attention.

According to the World Council on Renewable Energy there is a great danger in not realizing that all political and economic decisions affecting energy planning need to be refocused on the development of sustainable renewable forms of energy. A total replacement of atomic and fossil energy by Renewable Energy is necessary and possible. The major premise of World Council on Renewable Energy Agenda is: “Atomic and fossil energies are entirely unnecessary. Renewable Energy can meet the energy demands of mankind. The shift to Renewable Energy is a golden, historic opportunity, not a burden or a threat; this inexorable shift offers many benefits for the renewal of societies” [19].

The White Paper of the International Solar Energy Society “Transitioning to a Renewable Energy Future” shows the various technological options for the achievement of comprehensive Renewable Energy strategies [20].

A survey of the feasibility aspects of a variety of energy resources is given in Table 1 . Recommendations resulting from the various aspects of feasibility are given.

Scientific Technical Economic Social and Cultural Political and Justice Ecological

Table 1: Unfolding the complex feasibility of energy system based on a variety of energy resources. (+): feasible, (-): not feasible, (?): feasibility questionable at this time. Technologies with one or more not feasible aspects should not be promoted.


1. Rapid development and implementation of an energy system based on solar and wind energy resources. Such an energy system is feasible in most aspects; it is secure, stable, and resilient. Wind and solar radiation are plentiful resources, which are locally and globally available in the long term, and give no reason of conflict over scarce resources. While wind turbines suffer to some degree from the NIMBY syndrome, there is hardly any objection to solar installations.
2. Improve efficiency by a factor of two. Legislate energy utilization technology; at least up to European and Japanese standards. Improvement of the efficiency of energy use is also feasible in all aspects.
3. Promote research on energy storage technology, and on large area networks with high voltage DC transmission. Both technologies lead to load leveling, and support renewable energy utilization.
4. Explore zero emission technology for fossil fuels. Carbon sequestration will prevent climate change. Clarify the economical feasibility of this method, and possibility of political conflicts due to scarcity of oil and gas resources.

Energy systems to be rejected:

1. The existing fossil fuel based system causes climate change, and is environmentally not feasible. Furthermore, the limited availability of fossil fuels causes political conflicts; this system should be phased out.

2. Nuclear fission based energy systems, particularly with temporary storage of radioactive waste make a nation vulnerable to malevolent attacks; this makes nuclear fission based energy systems socially and politically not feasible; the risk to life, health and property is unacceptable. The long term storage of radioactive waste represents an environmental challenge that our grandchildren should not inherit. Paired with a questionable economic feasibility, the nuclear option cannot be recommended.

3. Nuclear fusion is technically not yet feasible, and need not be considered at present in any national energy plan.

4. Biomass on a large scale is scientifically and ecologically not feasible, and must be rejected. A biomass based energy system is in direct competition for land and water with food production. For that reason it is an unethical technology, except for small scale use of biomass waste.

Ways to implement solutions

Top-down approach

Institutional reform is a high priority, since it is faster than a change of popular culture. A recent example for a swift institutional change is the demise of the Soviet Union and the reorganization of Eastern Europe by President Gorbachev. An appropriate social and political architecture can be achieved by embedding nations in continental and world governments with legislative, jurisprudence, and executive powers

A properly reformed United Nations is the best candidate for a world government. Prime Minister Tony Blair was right on target when he said in his foreign policy speech: “Increasingly, there is a hopeless mismatch between the global challenges we face and the global institutions to confront them” [21]. Clearly, given the necessary governance tools, i. e. legislative, jurisprudence, and executive powers, the UN will be able to protect the global commons, and solve international conflicts through the rule of law; world law is enforced by a world police rather than by military might. A reorganized, adequately empowered UN will supply global legislation, independent courts of justice, and the executive powers to guarantee the safety of nations.

The users of the global commons must pay a global tax in addition to the local taxes. Some of the tasks for the UN in the role of world government are: set up world parks to protect the remaining wilderness, which is relevant for the resilience and the stability of the ecosystem; manage the world population and consumption to sustainable levels, and to enforce by legislation the use of appropriate technology.

Institutionally, it is time we stopped allowing tax dollars to be used to provide generous grants for gratuitously violent and pornographic films, television programs, video and computer games. These all misdirect creative talent and energy into counter productive areas. Instead, let's focus cultural policy through script writing on sustainability issues. At the municipal level, our major cities and transportation centres ought not to give out permits for production of harmful films, television programs and video games on the basis that these would contravene policies for safety and security. At present, these kinds of productions are encouraged because they are perceived to be "good for the economy". At the national level, the radio, television, and telecommunications commissions must do better jobs at implementing relevant legislation such as the Broadcast Act in Canada. The public interest must be first, ahead of accommodating media corporate interests. UNESCO and the WHO should be urged to acknowledge the harmful effects of these kinds of popular culture as well as the relentless commercial exploitation of children which not only fuel violence as a conflict resolution strategy and consumer driven value systems but lead to obesity and other physical health problems as well.

Bottom-up approach: change of attitude and culture

An excellent example for this bottom up approach to change through personal awakening is given in the successful Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka developed by A.T. Ariyaratne [22]. It follows the basic Buddhist thinking that all change starts with a change of mind of individuals.

Global sustainability education for all is essential for implementing viable solutions of global and local problems. Educational institutions and the media have the responsibility to create public awareness of sustainability issues; this awareness will allow politicians to act responsibly on long-term and global issues. A larger role of civil society will help implement wise choices.

Global sustainability education requires a curriculum core reform towards systemic thinking. The teachings at all levels must include: ecosystem sustainability, social relations in a culture of peace, and individual rights and responsibilities. There is an urgent need for educational change for all communities. The necessity and urgency of developing a core curriculum for schools and universities, in line with this handbook of critical issues, requires no argument. -- Understanding the life cycle of every action of our lives in essential.

‘Sustainability Literacy’ core curriculum includes: imparting forest dwellers knowledge, (ie: how to live within the planets ecosystem) to consumer civilizations. It is the ability to educate societies so that they function within the web of life. Current internet use has increased the ability to communicate positive actions and successes instantly which will aid in the development and implementation of a sustainability literacy core curriculum.

This will still not be easy. Some aspects of teaching must include; systemic thinking, universal values, consumerism reduction, energy reduction, and a spirituality of co-existence in peace on planet earth. Literacy means that societies must be able to achieve more than the ability to read and write in a local language. It also requires a global language that can explain sustainability as a functional educational tool. This will require a greater degree of understanding and fluency in all aspects of sustainability, especially the role of population, resource use and feasible solutions.

Ministries, school boards, and Schools will need to combine their economic and human resources with other government departments such as environment, water resources, food security and economic development. Community life within democracies will advance to a higher level of sharing.

Global Sustainability Literacy (GSL) curriculum has two pillars: first, ecological integrity for resource security, and second, social integrity for peace and non-violent conflict resolution. Both of these are well defined in the Earth Charter. In 2003 UNESCO adopted this soft law. Included in these parts are the two primary values: life and procreation, which foster a bio-centric worldview.

Ecological integrity requires understanding of Ehrlich’s & Holdren’s equation: Human Impact = Population x Affluence (Consumerism) x Technology. I = P x A x T, which covers the human impact on the environment.

Social integrity or social peace depends on a healthy ecosystem. Environmental degradation leads to resource scarcity, which in turn leads to loss of social integrity and violent conflicts according T. Homer﷓Dixon, of the University of Toronto. Injustice is another way of losing social peace; it is the main cause of terrorism.

As a GSL Curriculum is developed, and before any action is implemented, each current issue and its impact require curriculum discussions on:

1. The effect of a current population increase on the environment and how it impacts to the 'eco﷓system' and all species in the 'web of life'.
2. The impact on the local economy of human's affluence and the consumerism involved with the earth's resources.
3. The local impact of current and future technology on the local environment and society.

The GSL Curriculum for all students would require these elements. Communication skills and mathematical knowledge are tools to understand current problems, and to solve conflicts peacefully.

Curriculum developed by the Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC) examines the inter﷓disciplinary relationships between various branches of knowledge. The 'Culture of Peace through Tourism' concept includes values and sustainable practices explained on the IHTEC website [23]. All of IHTEC’s programs contain systemic thinking through a Global Sustainability Curriculum. IHTEC’s values focus on knowing how to mend and protect a local eco﷓systems before you travel around the world. The core curriculum consists of concepts around "A Culture of Peace through Tourism" as a central or 'pivot curriculum' that links to Global Sustainability Literacy (GSL) curriculum in the following ways:

· Environmental Integrity -- Environmental Studies.
· Social Integrity -- Conflict Resolution, Inter﷓Cultural Understanding.
· Earth Charter -- Environmental Bill of Rights and local laws, National Laws, UN Conventions, Agreements and International Laws.
· Curriculum must include: Language Arts, and the Performing Arts, Science, Mathematics, Geography, History, and Technology.

IHTEC’s International School Peace Gardens (ISPG) Curriculum concept was conceived in 1993. Eric Foster and Julia Morton-Marr are the creators of the ISPG concept; in 1995 they planted the first School Peace Garden, which was linked to the launch of the Environmental Bill of Rights in Ontario. The Environmental Bill of Rights tree became the Peace Tree in that first peace grove or Bosco Sacro, a place for conflict resolution.

The practical application of Global Sustainability Literacy can be implemented through the ISPG by linking to your local, national, world heritage, and wilderness parks as the cultural and environmental knowledge base; by using Friendship Benches as the inspiration and location for conflict resolution; by studying Life Zone Biodiversity in several different local ecosystems. Knowledge of what grows in each area is vital to the survival of all species, eg: Carolinian Life Zone, Desert Life Zones; by studying food security; and by encouraging local groups to plant foods that suit local soils, as defined in ISPG materials and using the ISPG’s as one location for these planting within the context of formal school curricula.

School Peace Gardens can contribute to “Species Support”, by planting food supplies for migrating species and creating water supplies, such as required for “Creature Corridors”; by encouraging and studying water and soil protection, regional and in some cases, even international interconnectedness through the “Watershed Peace Pathways” program. In certain locations, ISPG program will include studying oceans and coastal areas using “Marine Peace Parks” as a focus.

“Social Integrity” can be investigated and studied through studies in conflict resolution, inter﷓cultural understanding” using language arts and performing arts with participants around the world linking up as “guests” and “hosts” to each other, in the application of these programs.

Population, affluence and consumerism can be investigated and studied by applying the concept of “Substance Accounting for Eco﷓Systems”, which allows participants to account for the gains and losses in their respective SPG, and to identify what problems may arise. Technology can be investigated and studied in many ways; the one promoted by IHTEC at the outset, which is enjoying considerable popularity worldwide is solar energy. Some applications of this learning tool would include building and using solar ovens, solar lights, solar rock (a rock with a hole that has water pumped up through the rock, using solar power) on or near school buildings. Some schools are building and competing with solar cars in established races, and by using solar energy as the basis for science experiments, and as a power source in school buildings.

Enlightened media professionals have a firm knowledge of universal values; in reporting the news they put truth over political correctness, as A. Browne suggests [24]. By contrast, the maxim often used by patriotic reporters is “right or wrong my country”. However, the responsible journalist knows that for a sustainable world, the national interests must be embedded in the global interests [25], [26].

The same criteria apply to the popular culture industries that now have such an enormous impact on the value systems of the young, in particular. If we are to create an educational framework for implementation of the earth charter principles, commercial exploitation of children must be stopped. Widespread denial of harmful effects from violent entertainment must be addressed. In recent decades the value systems of children have largely been given over to huge media conglomerates and this has to change. World outlooks shaped and honed by violent entertainment and consumerism are antithetical to aims for an end to war, a culture of peace and long term sustainability.


[1] Karl-Henrik Robèrt,

[2] The Precautionary principle is law in some states, or

[3] Maslow’s basic needs

[4] Carl Sagan on the Nuclear Winter

[5] Harold Willen’s graph is accessible at:

[6] Lester Brown, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble

[7] Thomas Homer-Dixon, ‘On The Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict’.

[8] Global Footprint

[9] World Watch Institute, State of the World 2005, Food Security.

[10] Henry Kendall and David Pimentel, CONSTRAINTS ON THE EXPANSION OF THE GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLY, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Ambio Vol. 23 No. 3, May 1994 (unverified copy at

[11] David Ulansey

[12] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Synthesis Reports. Biodiversity p.47

[13] David Ulansey: Internet references to mass extinction

[14] Measured global surface temperature 1860 to 2001:

[15] Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN 1948-12-10

[16] UNESCO proposed a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities 1997:

[17] The Earth Charter Initiative 2000

[18] Josephine Rubin, Peace Research Reviews, XII –2, Peace Research Institute-Dundas, Dundas, Ontario, Canada December 1991. P. 36.

[19] World Council for Renewable Energy 2004 Forum: Civilization at the Turning Point: A Breakthrough for Renewable Energy, The World Renewable Energy Agenda p.17.

World Council for Renewable Energy

[20] International Solar Energy Society White Paper: Transitioning to a Renewable Energy Future

[21] UK prime Minister Tony Blair foreign policy speech 06-05-26.

[22] Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka developed by A.T. Ariyaratne

[23] International Holistic Tourism Education Centre .

[24] Browne, Anthony, The Retreat of Reason, Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society London, 2006.

[25] Dyson, Rose A. (2003). Missing Discourse on Global Media and Terrorism. In Terrorism, Globalization & Mass Communication. David Demers (ed.), Marquette Books, Spokane, WA.

[26] Yahya R. Kamalipour and Kuldip R. Rampal (eds.) (2001). Media, Sex, Violence, and Drugs in the Global Village. Rowman and Littlefield. lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford

Appendix 1: Peace Matrix
Helmut Burkhardt and Julia Morton-Marr
Toronto, 1999

Here is an idea for the development of an understanding of the network of responsibility and authority relations between organizations and individuals. Each entity is connected to, and interacts with other entities of the same level, and of different levels of organization.

We present 144 relevant relations between and among 'self-governed’, ‘sovereign’ entities, the environment, and individuals. According to one of the amendments of the US constitution, every citizen is a sovereign. How do all these organizations and individuals share the "sovereignty cake"? The classes of entities are marked by capital letters. Two lower case letters mark each of the relationships. All should be clearly defined, and harmonized. Each ‘actor’ involved in a relationship has responsibilities and authorities that need to be studied in detail in order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings in the highly complex interactions:

The abbreviations are:

E: Environment, Ecosystem
U: UN, global government
B: Block or continental union
N: Nation
D: Districts, i.e. provinces, states, or territories
M: Municipalities
C: Corporations
W: Workers’ Unions
P: Public Interest groups, NGOs, Clubs
R: Religious communities
F: Family
I: Individual

The pairs of small letters indicate the relationship between the units named. The relationships named by the letter pairs can be matter energy trade relations, economic relations, information relations, responsibility relations, or rights relations. For example, 'nu' and 'un' name the relations between the UN and the nation states. Similarly, 'ni', and 'in' name the relations between individual citizen and the nation state. Pairs of identical letters indicate class internal, ‘horizontal’ relations of entities of the same kind. A practical, and just distribution of the rights and responsibilities in the 144 relations are of utmost importance for understanding and for managing the affairs of all these social entities and individuals in a peaceful manner.

For example, if Quebec and Canada do not see eye to eye on what the rights and responsibility of the province towards the nation are ('dn' relation), and what are the rights and responsibilities of the nation towards the province are ('nd' relations) then there will be problems. 'dn' and 'nd' violence may result, as we have seen it in Kosovo and Yugoslavia. In this case, it is better to use the 'nu' and 'du', 'un' and 'ud' relations for arbitration of the dispute.

Other examples:

What are the tasks and authorities of the provincial police force and what are the tasks and authorities of the municipal police force? How do these 'dm' and 'md' forces relate to each other?

The recent MAI discussion has raised many questions on the nature of the 'nc' relations. Companies have forced nations to their knees.

Peace is possible, when all these 144 relations are harmonized.

Bios of Contributors

Helmut Burkhardt, Dr. rer.nat., is Professor of Physics Emeritus, Ryerson University, Toronto; Former President of Science for Peace, Canada; Founding President of the Council on Global Issues, an Internet think tank based in Toronto; Former Director of the Ryerson Energy Centre; Organizer of biennial interdisciplinary conferences at Ryerson University 1986 to 2002; Co-organizer of the International World Energy Systems Conferences in Toronto(1996 and 1998), Irkutsk, Siberia (2000), Tokyo, Japan (2002), and Oradea, Rumania (2004). Email:

Rose A. Dyson Ed.D. is a Consultant in Media Education, President of Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment , co-founder of the Cultural Environment Movement at Webster University, St. Louis, Mo. in 1996. She is an external research associate at the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution at York University; Vice President of Media, Council on Global Issues, Ryerson University and Chair of the Media Working Group, Science for Peace, University of Toronto. She is author of MIND ABUSE Media Violence In An Information Age co-author of numerous other books, peer reviewed articles and book reviews and is editor of The Learning Edge

Julia Morton-Marr, Dame StG, B.Ed., Dip. T. - Mississauga, Ontario, Canada - Teacher, educational curriculum innovator and consultant, academic and system scientist. For 17 years her passion has been teaching elementary children, also music education, in Primary Schools in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Since her retirement, her involvement has been in life long learning and developing educational curriculum.-- A total contribution of 46 years, to educational system.
As the Vice-President Education for the Council on Global Issues, she has made a study of critical global issues as it affects sustainability literacy in schools. She is the founder of the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre (IHTEC) and the flagship program International School Peace Gardens. IHTEC has ECOSOC Status at the United Nations and is an official organization with UNESCO for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2004-2015 and the UN Decade of a Culture of Peace. Julia has been honored as one of 1,000 female peace educators in the world who are nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. She has participated in many virtual conferences and holds on-line meetings, round tables and teacher training sessions daily. Julia was made a Dame on May 13, 2006 with the International Knight Order of St. George for her contribution to education.

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