Forget About Nations; We Need to Think for the World

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Good guys and bad guys make great characters. Frodo versus Sauron. Harry versus Voldemort.

It's easy to think of the real world in terms of good guys and bad guys too. Solar panel makers are good guys; oil companies are bad guys. Politicians who stop fracking are good guys, politicians who build pipelines are bad guys.

But that narrative misses something crucial: businesses, politicians and countries compete with each other. If one oil company slows down the drilling, another will swoop in to drill more. If one country stops selling oil, another will take over the industry.

"Perhaps because of my business background, I realized that no nation could decisively reduce its carbon emissions unless virtually all other nations did so too because any nation trying to go it alone would only land its economy with increased costs and a competitive disadvantage," explained John Bunzl, the CEO for an international textile business who is working on a solution to this problem.

Even when green candidates get elected, they're stuck competing to stay in power.

"That’s why, once in office, one party behaves much like another and voters become increasingly disillusioned: an effect we call 'pseudo-democracy,'" Bunzl went on. "Our votes, apparently, have become substantially meaningless."

Environmental destruction, according to Bunzl, isn't about greed or ignorance. It's about being trapped in a game of Monopoly.

"Our problem today, at least in the West, is that most people including our politicians still operate with a nation-centric worldview whereas solving global problems depends on a critical number of us adopting a world-centric worldview," Bunzl added.

Bunzl argues that the only way for countries to solve the energy crisis is to do it together. Countries have to come up with an agreement, carry it out together and make sure no one cheats.

That may seem hard, and it is. But it's comforting to think that the world isn't in an environmental crisis because people are just rotten on the inside (after all, you can't do much about human nature). It's in a crisis because we haven't changed the game. Yet.