The new president and CEO of NPR worked for nearly two decades in broadcast radio. But he says it’s his recent experience as a business executive and investor that will strengthen the 45-year-old media organization. A conversation with Jarl Mohn about the future of public radio.
For the past thirty years, the Prince of Wales has been advocating for the environment. Now he’s calling for something you wouldn’t expect from royalty – a revolution. Prince Charles says, “If we want to hand on to our children and grandchildren a much more durable way of operating in the world, then we have to embark on what i can only describe as a ‘sustainability revolution’ – and with some urgency.” In this month’s Environmental Outlook series, we discuss efforts for humans to reconnect with nature, restore balance and protect the future of the planet.
- Peter Seligmann co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International.
- Tony Juniper co-author of "Harmony" with Prince Charles and Ian Skelly, a special advisor with the prince’s International Sustainability unit and senior associate with the Cambridge University Program for Sustainability Leadership. He was a Green Party candidate in Britain’s recent general election. His books include, “Guide to the Parrots of the World,” “Spix’s Macaw” and “How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take to Change a Planet?”
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm. In this month's Environmental Outlook, a call for a new way of looking at the world. Putting nature at the center of everything. In a new book and upcoming NBC television special, His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Wales has issued a manifesto for living in balance with nature.
MS. DIANE REHMThe title of the book is "Harmony." One of his co-authors, British environmentalist Tony Juniper, joins us from The Hague. With me here in the studio is Peter Seligmann, he's co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. Throughout the hour, I'll look forward to hearing your questions and comments. Join us on 800-433-8850, send us your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, join us on Facebook or on Twitter. And good morning to you, Peter Seligmann.
MR. PETER SELIGMANNGood morning.
REHMAnd good morning to you, Tony Juniper.
MR. TONY JUNIPERGood morning.
REHMTony, if you would, tell us where Prince Charles thinks we have gone awry in our thinking?
JUNIPERWell, this book is an environmental book in part, but it's also a book about philosophy, a book about economics and also it's in part about the history of ideas. And this is really the core of the call to action that the Prince of Wales puts across in this -- in this new title. We looked back at the evolution of thought and the way in which people have seen their place in the world and one of the things that we note in describing the state of disharmony that we've reached today is the way in which our world view has fundamentally altered over a period of several hundred years and particularly during the course of the second half of the 20th century.
JUNIPERFrom seeing humankind as part of nature and living in the close connection with the natural world that was understood by many civilizations over a long period to become much more disconnected and to become disconnected through a process of industrialization that's transformed our view of nature as something of a partnership with us embedded very much in the nature of things to coming to regard nature as a mechanism, a source of natural resources and the place where we put waste.
JUNIPERAnd this world view has developed very much in tandem with our mastery of technology and the progressive industrialization of the way in which we live to the point where now we suffer from what might be regarded, we call it suffering at least, from an industrial mindset to the point where we have lost any sense of connection with the earth to the point where we no longer understand the realities that govern life on earth in an intuitive day to day sense.
JUNIPEROur world view has become disconnected. And so that's really the core message in terms of what the problem is, is to describe that process of alienation from nature and then to be using the book to describe ways back to that through -- in part, through what we describe as the grammar of harmony.
REHMI want to hear just a tiny clip of what Prince Charles has to say about his efforts.
PRINCE CHARLESEven back at the end of the swinging 60s the damage was showing through and I felt it my duty to warn of the consequences of ignoring nature's intrinsic tendency towards harmony and balance before it was all too late. What spurred me on was an essential fact of life, an undeniable law that if we ignore nature, everything starts to unravel. This is why from the very beginning, I kept pointing out that it is vital we seek ways of putting nature back in her rightful place, that is, at the center of things and that includes in our imagination as well as in the way we do things.
REHMTony, what does he mean by ignoring nature?
JUNIPERWell, this is the remarkable fact of the years we're living through right now is that we've gathered a vast amount of information about the affect of greenhouse gases on the functioning of the earth's atmosphere and its climatic conditions. We know that we've put in train through habitat, clearance, degradation of different eco-systems and pollution a mass extinction of animals and plants that's possibly not been witnessed on this planet for several 10s of millions of years.
JUNIPERWe're depleting natural resources from oil to fish to fresh water and to soils and yet we carry on as if there is no limit to this abuse that can be dealt out by our demands on the earth. And so that, I think, is a really remarkable fact where we seem to have lost any sense of proportion in the experiments that we've been conducting now for some years with ever greater knowledge of the consequences and yet we seem unable to change our ways.
JUNIPERAnd I think that says something very profound and very deep about the collective world view that we've developed, the fact that we're unable to respond to this, it seems. We are able to respond, we argue in the book, but it will require a different world view as well as very clever technology and different kinds of policies and different kinds of economic tools.
REHMTony Juniper, he's co-author with Prince Charles and Ian Skelly of the new book titled "Harmony." He's special advisor with the prince's International Sustainability Unit, senior associate with the Cambridge University Program for Sustainability Leadership. Do join us 800-433-8850. And now to you, Peter, as co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. Tell us first why you established the organization and exactly what it does?
SELIGMANNWe started Conservation International in 1987 for the simple reason that we felt that the issue of protecting nature required an understanding of economy. That asking people that are in need to protect nature without addressing their economic need created guilt, but not action. And so we started CI with the understanding and the mission of how can engagement and conservation improve the quality of life of people? And that was really the cause and we wanted to see whether we could actually redefine the way the conservation movement operated by demonstrating the relationship between human well-being and the protection of nature.
REHMBut I gather that the initial focus was on biodiversity and that the strategy is now on people. Why have you changed that focus?
SELIGMANNRight. The mission -- the original mission was to preserve biodiversity and we did whatever was necessary to preserve biodiversity. And often that involved economics, but really, the reason and the purpose was, let's protect biodiversity. And over the course of, you know, 23 years we were very successful in growing in the organization to work in over 40 countries that we referred to as the biodiversity hotspots, places with the greatest biodiversity and the greatest need for conservation of species.
SELIGMANNAnd over that time, we worked with many, many partners, maybe 1,000 partners that we were involved with and have protected some 500 million acres, so huge success in terms of specific places on earth that are important, both ocean and terrestrial. And so it was two or three years ago when I actually began to think more about, well, how successful have we really been? Because 500 million acres is a lot, it's a 30-mile wide band wrapped around the equator. You can see it from outer space and it's easy to be proud of that.
SELIGMANNBut during that same 23-year period of time, systemic threats to ecosystems and to species had increased dealing with enormous changes, acidification of the ocean, climate change and also what we saw at that same time frame was extinction rates had accelerated to 1,000 times natural rates, so every 20 minutes, a species goes extinct, so on the one hand, we felt pride at success. But the reality was, we were not succeeding. The reality was that environmental efforts were on a parallel track to development efforts and development efforts, which is kind of the core ingredient of every family, how do we get better? How do we get wealthier? How do we improve our life? That development drive, which is so powerful, did not include conservation.
SELIGMANNAnd so what I realized was that we were on a path to failure unless we could actually rethink our approach. And what we have to really begin to understand is that nature does not need humanity, humanity needs nature. And so we changed our mission from protecting biodiversity to a mission of supporting human well-being by maintaining and restoring ecosystems that provide essential services for people. Like, where do we get our food, our clean water, our stable climate, our cultural heritage, our medicines? And that was a transformation.
SELIGMANNWe decided we needed new allies and new partners. We had to become part of the development strategy of nations, as opposed to a strategy of preventing. We had to become kind of a component. The grail of development has to include the conservation of nature.
REHMBut for the most part, right now, you see that path toward development overshadowing the path toward conservation. That seems to be what's happening now. We'll talk more about that after a short break. Peter Seligmann, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about a new way of looking at our world. The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, has written a new book titled "Harmony" with Tony Juniper, who is on the line with us this morning. Here in the studio is Peter Seligmann, co-founder, chairman, CEO of Conservation International. Let's hear a little more about what Prince Charles has to say.
CHARLESWe're all personally involved. Take what is happening in the middle of remote rain forests. Thousand of species are being destroyed every year as large areas of natural habitat are cleared to make way for farmland. This may seem so far away that it does not touch us and yet, a quick glance along an average supermarket shelf reveals that this is not so at all. From the supply of coffee and beef to the soy and palm oil that are ingredients in a huge range of processed foods, our modern world is presently fed in a highly destructive manner.
REHMPeter Seligmann, that's exactly what I meant when I said to you just before the break that it would seem that development is winning out over the idea of protection of nature.
SELIGMANNWe have a challenge to change that. And actually, I am more optimistic today than I have been in the past because we are in a place that historians refer to as an open moment when people are actually searching for solutions, so more universities and businesses and governments and schools, communities are actually thinking about these issues and we're in a moment of great innovation and so that's the good news. The bad news is that the trends are still the wrong direction, but there is a great increase in interest.
SELIGMANNAs just one -- a couple of examples to be able to give you some, you know, specificity. We began to partner with Starbucks about 10 years ago on where do they get their coffee. And what we were saying to Starbucks was, you can have coffee that comes from a cleared forest, as His Royal Highness was referring to. It's a forest cleared, you have sun coffee or you can have coffee that comes from the shade of a rainforest. And if it comes from the shade of the rainforest, it produces a crop that's good economically...
REHM...and you maintain.
SELIGMANN...and you have all your biodiversity, so we went to Starbucks with this concept a decade ago and began to talk to them and it fit with their demographic and who their audience was. But 10 years ago, Starbucks could get 10 percent of their coffee from shade-grown farmer-equitable sources. Today, 81 percent of all the coffee that Starbuck sells comes from cafe standards, which means it's environmentally and labor friendly, so that's a really important step in the right direction.
SELIGMANNThe same is true -- another really important kind of opportunity in the business world comes from the transformation that's taking place at the biggest retailer in the world, which is Walmart. So it was probably six years ago or so, maybe five, that Rob Walton, who's the chairman of Walmart, and I began to travel to different places around the world together to talk about conservation issues and Rob was really interested in his family's engagement. And it was off the coast of Costa Rica, after a dive in the Cocos Island, when we saw a ship filled with shark fins, when I said to him, Rob, I can go to talk to the president of Costa Rica and talk to him about why that's bad and he's going to think this comes from an environmentalist's perspective. You could talk to him about the same thing and it comes from a buyer perspective.
SELIGMANNAnd so we did that. And afterwards, I suggested to Rob that, if you really want to make a difference, it had to go beyond personal philanthropy and really, Walmart had to change. So he said, I will take you down to see Lee Scott, the CEO of Walmart, in Bentonville and you can have that conversation with him. So we went down together and spoke to Lee Scott about where -- what are the standards for what they sell and we looked at a pound of salmon.
SELIGMANNA pound of salmon was 15 percent cheaper at Walmart than any other place, but the pink was a dye. And the farming practices to produce that salmon were just wiping out the coast of Chile because of the poor farming practices. And it happened -- and this is really important because it's part of kind of our motivation. It's kind of the intellect and the heart. And Lee Scott had had his first granddaughter two weeks earlier and he was at a place where he thought, we don't want to do that.
SELIGMANNWe began a process with Walmart that expanded to many organizations and has resulted in kind of a revolutionary change in that Walmart now will put into the preferred shelf space only items that are produced in a green way. So they're looking at where does their fish come from, where does there crop come from, where do their -- how much waste do they have, how do they increase fuel efficiency? So we're in that kind of a moment and that affects 100,000 suppliers that have to go through that green filter to be able to sell at Walmart.
REHMTony Juniper, turning to you at The Hague. Here's an e-mail from Amy in Kalamazoo who comments on this. She says, "Our current food system is very disturbing to me. I think it is environmentally damaging, inhumane to animals and socially inequitable. I hope we can return to a system based on backyard gardens, local organic farmers and pastured animals. But how do we change people's attitudes about such an emotional and personal issue?" Seems to me that that's the issue Prince Charles has to deal with.
JUNIPERThat's a very good point and I think one of the themes that comes out in the "Harmony" book, which speaks directly to that point is the whole notion of reconnection and how we can begin a process of our culture once more understanding its reliance on nature in all sorts of different ways, of course, including the productive cycles of nature that enable food production to occur. And I think many of us in the modern world have become utterly divorced from the cycles of seasons, the processes that restore soil fertility, the way in which insects help pollination.
JUNIPERAll of these things we kind of think we know about, but most of us are really so far removed that it becomes easy to eat processed food from packaging that's been produced in a highly destructive way on the other side of the world. We have little knowledge about where it's come from. There might be social consequences in terms of the way in which monocultures are displacing diverse agriculture, shedding jobs in the process. A lot of these things are hidden and Peter's right, you know, that there is a step now being taken -- some steps being taken now by some companies in the food supply chain, whether they're retailers or whether they are people who are providing foods that are processed, that there is some attempt in some quarters to begin looking at this.
JUNIPERBut the point we make in the book, really, is that there is a culture change that needs to lie behind it to make this go far enough and fast enough if we are going to bend some of these curves that are presently in play, in terms of rising emissions of carbon dioxide and the loss of natural habitats, that we need to go further. And it is about finding ways in which people can be brought closer to the cycles and the rhythms of nature that actually sustain us. And so we talk about education a lot in the book and ways in which we might have more rounded education systems in some countries.
JUNIPERAnd we note that in the United Kingdom, at least, there is a tendency now to learn more and more about less and less, with people being encouraged to develop a high level of specialism, which during the course of a career, can lead you into very fine focus in terms of knowing a lot about something quite specific. And at the same time, perhaps our education system is not giving children the opportunity, or indeed adults, to have a more rounded view of the world. And to understand some of these obvious but increasingly less obvious facts in terms of how the world works and including from the point of view of the food system. And so we argue for that to be a space in the education system, for children to spend time on farms growing food, to be able to interact with farm animals and with nature...
JUNIPER...in a way that perhaps would equip them with values that would enable them to make some emotional judgments, as well as intellectual judgments about the way in which we treat farm animals, for instance.
REHMAnd certainly, certainly, the First Lady, Mrs. Obama, has attempted to do that...
REHM...by establishing the White House garden. Tony, I know you ran for Parliament as a Green Party candidate, but one has to wonder how much political will is out there to do what it takes to create a more realistic and durable way for the earth to sustain human needs.
JUNIPERYes, exactly. And political will comes probably in my experience -- and I did run as a candidate for the Green Party. We did get our first MP ever in the British Parliament. Caroline Lucas was elected in Brighton Pavilion. I got the third best vote for the Green Party in the U.K. out of 350 seats, we stood a candidate, but we've got this curious electoral system, which means small parties find it very difficult to get people elected. But the fact that a few of us stood and one of us got elected did help to shift the political discussion in the United Kingdom and kept these issues higher up on the list of things that get talked about.
JUNIPERBut political will, it kinda comes from -- from two things. It comes from leadership and politicians knowing about these subjects and being able to take a longer term in leadership position on things that are quite complicated and quite difficult and then the other side, which is probably more important, is that the political will is galvanized by all of us as voters, having particular views or particular aspirations or particular priorities.
JUNIPERAnd I've spent most of my career on the latter side of this, I have to say, working for Friends of the Earth in the United Kingdom for a long time, amongst other NGOs, encouraging people to be thinking about these issues in the broadest possible sense. And in terms of policy, in terms of technology, in terms of the way people live and what we know, but also in terms of how we interact with our elected representatives. And it has worked. In the United Kingdom, we have had really quite a massive change of approach. And like Peter, you know, I detect a lot of positive change going on in the world at the moment and including with the private sector, but also in some sections of politics.
JUNIPERBut, you know, there's a tendency for these things to kind of disappear after a period of attention, so, you know, we're never really that certain that we've got this in the bag and so we have to maintain the political dialogue to make sure this remains on the top of the list. And one of the things I would encourage everybody to do who's listening and who thinks these things are important, is to make sure that as well as shopping differently and living differently and talking to your friends about some of these things, make sure you have conversations with the people you've elected to different levels of politics because at the end, they were to have quite an important role in making sure the solutions come.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Now, last -- I gather last week, world leaders in Japan did come with a plan on biodiversity. How much of a milestone is that, Peter?
SELIGMANNA big milestone. The Convention of Biodiversity was negotiated last week in Nagoya and there're a couple things about it that are very important for all of us to understand. Some 190 nations were there who have signed the agreement. Three nations have not signed this agreement. They are Indara, the Vatican and the United States of America. Iraq and Afghanistan signed this year, so for some reason, we are holding out and it's obviously a political reason, but it's very important that the U.S. sign this agreement. It was actually -- the Senate has to ratify it and it's been up for ratification since 1993.
REHMAnd what would it actually mean for the United States?
SELIGMANNWell, right now, we put more money into this issue and we were involved in the original discussion, definition and negotiation in 1990 in Rio, but we don't sit at the table in terms of having a vote. We can observe, but what it really means, the Convention of Biodiversity is making important decisions and setting important targets for the community of nations in terms of the protection of the fabric of every nation. Every single nation has two essential assets. It's our human assets, our people and it's our natural assets, our biological diversity and our forests and our rivers and our glaciers and our swamps and marshlands and oceans and we need to take care of both of those because that's all we have.
SELIGMANNSo this treaty is an agreement to take care and protect biological diversity. Specifically what came out of the negotiations in Nagoya was an agreement to increase the amount of oceans that are protected, going from 1 percent of the oceans, which are protected today, to a target of 10 percent by 2020. And also to increase the amount of land that is protected.
REHMWhat would protection of the ocean involve?
SELIGMANNWell, the oceans are a source of so much good. I mean, most of us don't understand that over a billion people get their protein from fish from the oceans. And the oceans, through the mangroves and the coral reefs, are an enormous protection barrier against storm for coastal communities. And the oceans are critically important for absorbing CO2 and having a balanced climate, so if you set up marine protected areas, you can accomplish all of those together.
SELIGMANNAnd what's fascinating is that in our economies we do not include the contributions that nature actually makes to our economy. So we can think about the value of trade and products that we sell in our GNP, but we don't think about the contribution that forests make. And actually, forests are water factories. Without water, what do we have? We don't include in our economies the value of pollinators, yet one out of every three crops that we depend upon is pollinated by native wild insects.
REHMSo what are the arguments against signing the treaty on biodiversity on the part of the U.S.?
SELIGMANNWell, most of the arguments were kind of historic concern by the pharmaceutical industry and the farming industry, that they would give opportunities for genetic material.
REHMPeter Seligmann, he's co-founder, chairman, CEO of Conservation International. When we come back, we'll open the phones, read more of your e-mail. Stay with us.
REHMWelcome back. As we talk about the Prince of Whales' new book titled "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World," written with Tony Juniper, who's on the line with us from The Hague, and Ian Skelly. Here in the studio, Peter Seligmann, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. I'm going to open the phones, 800-433-8850, send us your e-mail to email@example.com. First to Nancy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Good morning, you're on the air.
NANCYGood morning, Diane.
NANCYI just wanna thank you so much for your show. I listen to you almost daily.
REHMI'm so glad. Thank you.
NANCYI have two questions, if possible. I agree so much that we need nature and not only for our physical survival but also our spiritual evolution, I believe. And I'm working on a 20-year-old dream to build a therapy retreat center and use psychotherapy to help people reconnect with nature and I wonder first what your guests think about the connection between a person's spirituality or the cultural -- culture's spirituality and our connection to nature. And secondly, on the political front, do they think it might be better if laws were focused more on rewarding people and companies who behave and act in environmentally responsible ways instead of the punishment for irresponsible -- environmentally irresponsible behavior.
REHMInteresting questions. Tony, why don't you start with that connection between nature and not only our physical, but our spiritual selves.
JUNIPERYes. We do talk about this a lot in "Harmony" and reflect on the extent to which ancient civilizations by and large had a more spiritual view of nature which led them to be more connected and embedded in creation, which led them to have a different view of what the world was all about. And that perspective obviously is largely gone. Many of the world's indigenous people, of course, still have this perspective. They see themselves as dwelling in a sacred presence, which is why there's big bits of the Amazon rainforest still left in the area of deforestation. There are some legal differences, but I see it very much as a -- the spiritual world view of the indigenous people being very much part of the reason why those forests are still there.
JUNIPERSo there is a very direct connection between our well-being, the spiritual level and the maintenance protection, whatever, of nature. And there's a great deal of evidence now as well about the therapeutic qualities of experience of nature in terms of helping people to recover from illness and to help with the care of a whole range of conditions, including chronic illness from osteological conditions to heart conditions, right through to psychological difficulties. And there's a lot of evidence showing how nature can really help in recovering. And in general, well-being. And from the United Kingdom, we have some evidence recently published by our national conservation agency showing how access to green space actually has quite a lot to do with how long you live and how healthy you are and it particularly appeals -- particularly applies, rather, to poor people. They benefit particularly from this.
JUNIPERAs far as politics is concerned, I think you're absolutely right about this. We've kind of reached the end -- not the end, we're reaching the limits of what you can do through punitive regulation in terms of banning things or penalties being applied to the market or to companies or to individuals in terms of environmental damage. I think we're moving much more into a broader discussion which is about how we change economics and how we start to reward different kinds of behavior compared to other kinds of behavior and I think the evidence is there to say that this is gonna be quicker and will go more smoothly if we're in the process of rewarding good things, rather than simply banning bad things.
JUNIPERAnd there's a whole range of ways of doing this and in the United Kingdom, we've got a couple at the moment that we're just trying out. There's been experience from Germany and other countries, but we're just trying out this thing that's called a feeding tariff, which basically give people a economic incentive to install small scale renewable energy on their homes or on their farm or their business and it's working extremely well in driving up demand for solar electricity devices and also for small scale wind power.
JUNIPERAnd so that's something. You could start by banning coal, it wouldn't work. Or you could try and ban fossil fuels, it really wouldn't go very far, but by putting in place incentive, you kind of take people towards something nice rather than trying to ban them from going toward something that's negative and so I think there's a lot to be said there.
REHMNancy, thanks for your call. Here's an e-mail from Ann who says, "I'm currently trying to finance putting solar panels on my roof. Our family is amongst the top 5 percent of U.S. wage earners. If my family must struggle to afford going solar, how is the rest of the middle class workforce going to work toward real sustainability?" Peter.
SELIGMANNThat's -- that's exactly the right question. What has to happen is we have to get environmental solutions to the place where they are economically affordable. Otherwise, we feel guilty, but we do the wrong thing. So that is challenge of understanding the real cost of what we do and what we have often done is we externalize the cost of society of environmental damage so that when we pollute, for example, we don't think about the medical expense that our family incurs. When we look at how we get our energy, we don't think about the real full-cycle cost of that energy. What does it take to supply this country with oil, for example. It's not just the price of drilling and transport, it's also what's the impact on the environmental services that nature provides that are not included or how much are we spending to protect those sources of oil?
SELIGMANNAnd so we really don't have an accurate picture of our economy. If you look at the fisheries business as an example, we depend upon oceans for fish, yet the oceans are being depleted and our supply of fish that we eat, those fish populations are down by 90 percent, yet intensity of fishing increases. Why? Because most nations heavily subsidize their fishing fleets and so we might have a value of $5 billion in the catch, but that industry is subsidized with $5 billion so that it's affordable. We need to get rid of those perverse subsidies so that we can actually benefit by acquiring technologies that solve these problems.
REHMAll right. To Greg in Gainesville, Fla. Good morning, you're on the air.
GREGGood morning. Thank you, Diane. I think your guests have eluded to the -- one of the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which is our economic model that cannot account for these externalities, but the other 800 pound gorilla is of course, population growth and I wonder if your guest would like to tackle this rather difficult issue.
SELIGMANNYeah, definitely. I think that is -- that is one of the big gorillas, completely correct. Just to put it into some perspective, we have 6.9 billion people on the planet Earth today. In 30 years, we're going to have 9.2 billion. Now, of the -- 2 billion of the new people that are arriving on the earth are going to be entering the middle class, 2 billion new people in the middle class. In the entire history of humanity, we've only had a billion people in the middle class, so we're going to double that to 2 billion more and what that really means is that in this next 30-year time frame, we're going to have to double our source of water, which is hard to do, double our source of energy and double our availability of food.
SELIGMANNSo in the next 30 years, we have a huge challenge that is going to have to involve a -- an approach to population growth, as well as beginning to understand the trade-offs that are made when you begin to develop your landscape in a thoughtless way, the unattended consequences.
REHMWhat do you mean by an approach to population growth?
SELIGMANNWell, what I mean is that what is required -- the solutions that have to be followed have to be nation by nation, state by state. There's not going to be a global treaty. There has to be an understanding developed in countries as to what are the availability of resources and what are the consequences if they outgrow those resources? And that is felt in so many different nations, so the most important conversation has to be with national leadership and it's nation by nation as to how do you insure -- how do you look at the long-term projections for your country? How many people are you gonna have? What -- how many mouths will you have to feed? Where is the water gonna come from, where's the food gonna come from?
REHMBut now, think of the extent to which China has been criticized in the past for acknowledging that it did not have the resources to accommodate or feed more than one child per couple. Tony Juniper, do you see that happening elsewhere?
JUNIPERNo. China, that country has shown some leadership on this subject, but of course, it's in a rather unusual position as far as most Western nations are concerned in not being a Democracy and I wonder if we could foresee any of the European or North American countries ever embarking on this kind of policy through some kind of Democratic process. I just don't think it's gonna happen. And so I'm inclined to look to other solutions rather than those at the top down on which are coming through a government instruction to limit family size. And, you know, if I could put on thing on the list of global priorities that governments could pursue now that would make a huge difference on this, it would be making sure that there was decent education for children across the world, particularly for girls.
JUNIPERAnd we know from evidence that's been gathered in many countries that once girls have education, they are more inclined to want to have a career, some control over their life. They can see opportunities for themselves beyond just being mothers and they can have a job and everything else if they have the right kind of skills. And so education makes a transformative difference and if the world could simply invest in making sure that girls at least have secondary education and where possible opportunities for if a university careers, too, then I think we would -- we would have a transformative impact.
JUNIPERThe other thing about population which history tells us is really quite important is a level of economic and social security. That goes hand in hand with reduced family size. So when we have a nice place to live, enough to eat, healthcare for our kids, when we have a decent, rewarding job in life, then family size goes right down. It happened in Europe, happened in North America and it will happen in the rest of the world if we can provide those basic facilities that we take for granted in many Western countries.
JUNIPERIf we can provide that for everybody in a way which isn't going to destroy the planet, so the idea of sustainable development is right large in this idea I'm putting across now, everybody gets a decent way of living and that would be our principle response to the population problem. And I think probably, that's the only way it's gonna happen, but then, of course, and as Peter quite rightly points out, you know, the aspiration of everybody born to poverty pretty much is to not be in poverty and so we will have 2 billion more middle class consumers. The question is, how're we going to meet their needs without trashing the planet...
JUNIPER...and that is the -- that is the historical -- the historic objective of our generation. This is the challenge that we have to face in the next 10, 20, 30 years. And, you know, as it had been pointed out earlier on, you know, we can be optimistic about this, about making this incredible shift from a destructive development path to a sustainable development path and, you know, bringing these two things together, as Peter described earlier on, from being power-all tracks, to being the same project, sustainable development where everybody's needs are met without changing the climate or driving animals and plants to extinction.
JUNIPERAnd that's basically the mindset that we try to get across in the "Harmony" book, is to describe the view of the world that could lead to that kind of an outcome rather than the outcomes that we're generating at the moment.
REHMTony Juniper, he's co-author with Prince Charles and Ian Skelly of the new book "Harmony" and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go now to Oakton, Va. Good morning, Jack.
JACKGood morning. How are you doing?
REHMI'm fine, thanks.
JACKI was kind of -- I'm very strongly interested in the environment. My wife and I do many things that we think contribute positively. My big concern is a doctorate in economics and as a practicing economist is, you know, I don't think we can shut down the coal mines in West Virginia, the auto plants in the South, the truck farms in California and New Jersey and feel all these people and provide all these jobs. I mean, if we did all that, could we count on Prince Charles and Diane and Peter and this other gent to support these people in the interim?
REHMIt's a good question, Peter.
SELIGMANNI think that it is a good question. The answer is that we're going to have to go through a thoughtful transition. You cannot shut things down...
SELIGMANN..at one moment, but what is required is an understanding that the way we are living is not sustainable. The way we are living at the moment is a -- is leading us into a corner that will become a national security risk for every nation. Where will you have your services from nature when they have been despoiled by the way we're living? We cannot make that transformation overnight, but we need to acknowledge that it's an issue and begin to look at and invest in different ways to do business. What's fascinating is that the government of China and the private sector in China has invested far more in new technologies for renewable resources than we have.
SELIGMANNThe largest manufacturer of solar panels is in China. We are actually seeing an investment in new technologies that actually address some of these issues, but it's taking place at a much faster and much more intense pace overseas than in the United States of America. No matter how you look at it, in terms of energy, we're going to need a portfolio of energy sources. Right now, it's dominated by coal and by oil. Understandable. We're going to have to change the percentages over time and we're going to have to look at are there technologies for reducing the carbon impact of fuels -- of fossil fuels? This is where we have to get to. Unless we acknowledge and understand the issues, we're not going to find any solutions.
REHMPeter Seligmann, he's co-founder, chairman and CEO of Conservation International, Tony Juniper, who's been on the line with us from The Hague, is co-author with Prince Charles and Ian Skelly of a new book titled "Harmony" and you will see a presentation on NBC with Brian Williams hosting and you can find some links on our website at drshow.org. Thank you both. Thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
Most Recent Shows
A Justice Department investigation finds a pattern of racial discrimination by police officers and courts in Ferguson, Missouri. Diane and guests discuss what's in the new report and how it could affect police departments nationwide.
We live in an age when science and technology touch nearly every aspect of our lives. Yet scientific findings on climate change, vaccines and evolution are increasingly under attack. Why people doubt science.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a much-debated speech to Congress. We look at reaction to the speech here and abroad and efforts to reduce U.S.-Israeli tensions over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran.