Values, migration, and environment An essay on driving forces behind human decisions and their consequences


Ahead of the Bonn summit, held in July 2001 and intending to save the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, expectations had been high that the problem of increasing global warming could be solved by a general decrease of CO2 and other emissions of greenhouse gases to a level below that of 1990, and maybe even further. However, the Bonn summit succeeded only to a minor extent. Once more, little more than lip service has been paid to the warnings of the scientific community. The compromise which has been reached after tough and tiring negotiations is the absolute minimum of what has to be undertaken to prevent global warming from going on as before. Even so, there is no guarantee that the ecosystem will not capsize and put an end to humanity. Arrogance and narrow-mindedness continue to dominate human decisions. The outcomes of the Bonn summit and of the subsequent conference at Marrakech in November 2001 illustrate the everlasting political dilemma: to find the right balance between what is urgently needed and what politicians are prepared to concede. It also demonstrates that the ecosystem is still perceived as a bottomless reservoir from which we can scoop an endless quantity of resources, and an equally bottomless sink into which we can dip all our waste – naturally everything at zero cost. This observation marks the point of departure of this essay: the driving forces behind environmental change and environmentally induced mass migration lie with human decisions and actions. Based on the subjective perceptions of the reality, they reflect the worldview and the underlying value systems of a given society. Solutions towards the mitigation of human-induced global warming effects and of environmentally induced migration will therefore have to root in a change in attitude of the human race. Everybody is concerned by such a change; politicians alone cannot be made responsible for the near-failure in Bonn and Marrakech. As representatives of their countries and populations, however, they bear an enhanced share of responsibility: they ought to take the lead in all questions and show new ways ahead. Gouverner c’est prévoir. As a consequence of the Bonn agreement, the industrialized countries will have to come to grips with the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, both technically and morally: “The Protocol will enter into force and become legally binding after it has been ratified by at least 55 parties to the Convention, including industrialized countries representing at least 55% of the total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions from this group. So far, 36 countries have ratified, including one

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@inproceedings{Leimgruber2005ValuesMA, title={Values, migration, and environment An essay on driving forces behind human decisions and their consequences}, author={Walter Leimgruber}, year={2005} }