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World Government, Part III

Imagine an Earth where the effects of climate change have killed millions of people and threaten billions more. The planet is hotter, the oceans and the air are toxic, starvation and violence have become common, and millions of desperate people roam the Earth in search of food and survival basics. Meanwhile industrial man continues to generate the greenhouse gases and other pollutants which have produced this new, damaged world. Civilization is sliding towards what Thomas Hobbes called a chaotic “state of nature” with “all against all” in which life is “nasty, brutish and short.” What is the best case solution?

I see no happy answers. One solution is a world sovereign loosely modeled on the United Nations, but with a monopoly of military force and demanding universal obedience from all nations and from all individuals. The need for a single, worldwide, supreme political authority, if societal collapse is widespread, is exaggerated by wide distribution of weapons of mass destruction and the ease of their delivery. The world was lucky when the Soviet Union fell apart 30 years ago; no terrorist nuclear attacks have, so far, resulted from slackened Russian control over its nuclear weapons. But tens of thousands of atomic and hydrogen bombs continue to exist in national stockpiles, and millions of lives depend upon those sometimes fragile nations’ will and ability to quarantine mass-kill weapons.

A world sovereign would also be charged with diminishing the causes of natural systems’ deterioration, particularly the rise in greenhouse gases. The present international community has failed miserably to stop the rise of CO2 and other triggers for climate change, despite strong efforts such as the 1992 Kyoto accords. We have over 150 politically-independent, competing nations, and each has ability and incentives to dump whatever level of pollutants into land, air, and water as suits its own local interests. The damages are spread world-wide while the benefits of the polluting activities accrue to the doer. Part of a strong political and military authority’s job would be to limit, by any means necessary, excessive human-caused pollution wherever on Earth it might occur.

My hypothesized supreme decision maker would be something like the UN’s present security council, with a membership of nine individuals collectively charged with keeping world order and world health. The council members would act by majority vote, with individual members each serving one three-year term only, with member replacements appointed by the council itself. Three new members would be appointed each year, and there would be no one person able to make decisions independently of the council’s will. Group decisions on all matters would be final, and the council would not be accountable to anyone or any group. The closest historical precedents are Rome’s and Imperial China’s domination over large portions of the world for hundreds of years, with concentration of power in their emperors as absolute rulers.

Our present world has examples of sovereigns which demand universal obedience from their subjects, including North Korea under its current leader, Kim Jong-un, and his father and grandfather. Collapse of civilization as we know it might generate enough desperation to allow creation of such an absolutist world government. The United States, as the wealthiest and biggest contributor to human-caused climate change, along with other high-consuming countries, might be compelled to change consumption habits by a world authority acting aggressively to slow natural system erosions.

Realistically most nations would resist any significant surrender of their own sovereignty, and would do so only in response to being decimated by huge catastrophes. Bottom line, we need a better roadmap for early adaptation to changed natural systems, and to effects on the lives of us all.


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