The International Day of Peace, on September 21 each year, was established in 1981 by the United Nations but has only gained worldwide attention in the past ten years as people unite on Peace One Day. Peace One Day is a global international ceasefire for individuals and organizations to work toward peace-building, development and aid, and the delivery of supplies like food and vaccines. This year’s theme is “Who will you make peace with?” At TU Press we see climate change as a threat to long-term international peace, wreaking social and political havoc as humans struggle to deal with environmental changes.
In Wisdom for a Livable Planet, Carl McDaniel profiles eight visionaries dedicated to addressing environmental issues that create social and political conflict. Some of these issues include:
- hazardous waste
- loss of biodiversity
- effects of agribusiness on health and the food supply
- economics based on outmoded growth models
- lack of environmental education at all levels
- larger gaps between the haves and the have-nots cause by globalization.
McDaniel argues that globalization “impoverishes people because, by ignoring the unique character and limits of each locality, it erodes environmental stability and produces dysfunctional societies characterized by violence, crime, poverty, substantial disparity between rich and poor, civil unrest, and social insecurity.” When we promote an econocentric worldview rather than an ecocentric one, resources are overexploited for economic gains and we see an increase in poverty, starvation, sickness, and suffering among the poor in developing countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that each individual has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her health and well-being. Every person must therefore have access to clean water, air, and food resources. If these needs are not met, how can we claim to have world peace?
If we allow environmental degradation and the unsustainable use of our earth’s resources to continue, the poor in underdeveloped or developing countries will suffer increasingly from disease and lack of nutrition. If a central goal of Peace One Day is to give vaccinations to children and provide them with better health care, another goal must be to work to stop global climate change.
McDaniel’s message is one of hope. “Through the actions of each one of us,” he writes, “global culture can embrace an urgently needed ecologically centered pattern of living. With this transformation we will take our rightful place among the rest of nature and accept with grace and humility our relations to Earth’s diversity of life.”