Saturday, July 4, 2009

A July post - will any IB students read it?

Well, tomorrow is the big day - the day results are out for all May candidates. Less than 24 hours away for my kids at 0346. So, what am doing with a 4th of July IB economics post? I just started reading the Economist debate on 'Sustainable development'. The motion: 'this house believes that sustainable development is unsustainable'. Defending the motion is David G. Victor, Law Professor at Stanford & Prof. of International Relations, University of California at San Diego. Against the motion is Dr. Peter Courtland Agre, M.D., University Professor and Director, Duke University (2003 Nobel prize in Chemistry).

You will find this most interesting discussion here.

I will only copy one paragraph from Dr Agre's opening remarks:
Our situation is indeed exceedingly grim—increasing release of toxins into the environment, energy gluttony and the appearance of epidemic obesity. Compounding these problems is the nearly total lack of thrift among Americans whose uncontrollable consumerism is sufficient to support multiple shopping channels on the television 24 x 7 x 365 at a time of unprecedented debt.

To have the world's biggest economy is irrelevant if we squander our wealth on fluff. Popular television advertising revenues alone could sustain significant educational reform in the US. Consider for example that one second of advertising during the Super Bowl retails for $100,000—twice the annual salary of a beginning schoolteacher. The wisdom behind the rising economy in China must be questioned, since they now have 3% of the world's paved roadways but 21% of the world's highway fatalities. If this truly reflects giving the public what it wants, we are most certainly doomed.

And, also:
Achievement of sustainability can only occur if the public demands it. My view is that a populist revolt for sustainability must be initiated, and it must include the young. Jefferson claimed that "Every generation needs a new revolution," and Franklin that "Many people die at 25 but are not buried until they are 75." Our younger generation will determine if the right decisions are undertaken by becoming engaged in the most important issue of our time.
Any questions, IB graduating class of 2009?

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