Connections & Commonalities Between World Societies

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

We hear a lot of talk today about how connected the world is becoming, but what does that really mean? Let's look at some issues facing the global community and see how our connections and commonalities may provide solutions.

Connections and Commonalities

There are problems in the world. That's unfortunate, but wouldn't it be best if we just ignored them and focused on ourselves? After all, we've done that in the past. The short answer to this question: No. We can't ignore global issues anymore, and for a number of reasons. One, that's contradictory to our moral guidelines since 1945 and two, it's really not possible.

We live in a world that is more connected now than it ever has been before. Globalization, a complete integration of global economic, communication, social, and political networks, is one of the definitive experiences of the modern world.

As our economies rely increasingly on global markets, we spend more time communicating with people around the world, and our political decisions require approval from a host of multinational organizations. We have to acknowledge that we are a connected, global community.

On one hand, this has helped many people realize that we have more in common than we do that separates us. On the other, it's made us realize that the issues that impact some of us, impact all of us.

Food Production

While there are a myriad of issues facing the global community today, we're going to focus on four that have really highlighted just how much we all share a stake in solving problems together. The first of these issues is something near and dear to all of us: food.

The world population is currently over 7 billion people. Some researchers estimate that number will grow well beyond 9 billion by 2050. That's a lot of people, and all of them need food. At the same time, more and more space is being converted to urban industrial space. So, will we be able to produce enough food to sustain our global population?

Today, developing nations are starting to take a leading role in agricultural production. There are many who hope that by applying new scientific ideas and techniques to agriculture in these countries, we can increase agriculture yield by exponential degrees.

The potential of such ideas was demonstrated in the so-called Green Revolution of the mid-late 20th century that is estimated to have saved hundreds of millions from starvation. So, there are potential solutions, but they will require global implementation.

The Environment

As it turns out, bad things can happen when you clear all the forests to make space for crops. Besides negating the CO2-reducing effects of trees, deforestation also reduces soil stability and biodiversity. Agriculture provides food, but may have negative impacts on the environment.

Climate change is also likely to have a negative impact on agricultural production
climate change map

Environmental issues are global issues because we're seeing change on a global scale. Climate change in the form of increased global average temperatures is no longer a hypothesis, but a fact supported by decades of scientific evidence.

Already, major cities like Beijing are dealing with health epidemics from a lack of clean air, but the biggest dangers of climate change are likely to be felt by the coastlines. Sea level increases could submerge coasts around the world, affecting around 40% of the world population. Many of these populations are also among the poorest on Earth, and economically unable to deal with the increase in extreme weather events that accompany climate change.

Human Rights

So, do we all have a role in helping impoverished people recover from hurricanes and tropical storms? To many, this has become an issue of human rights, the basic rights to survival, wellbeing, and autonomy inherently owed to all human beings.

Human rights issues are a big part of how the global community was organized, dating back to the founding of the United Nations in 1945 as a body of collective peace. In 1948, the UN adopted the Declaration of Human Rights, and since then the promotion and preservation of these rights has been a top global priority.

Of the human rights issues we're dealing with in the world today, one major issue is violence. On an intimate scale, it's still estimated that roughly a third of women in the world are exposed to personal violence in their lives.

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