Weekend Roundup: World Leaders Embrace Ethics of the Future at Paris Summit


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

Whatever the final outcome, the United Nations climate summit convening in Paris is already a unique event in the history of the planet. Using the scientific tool of reasoned projection, the most self-aware and conscious species, Homo sapiens, has collectively peered into the times ahead and seen the ruinous impact on generations to come from burning ever more carbon to fuel our present industrialized desire. Motivated by an ethics of the future, top leaders from across the world have resolved to preempt further damage to the fragile ecology of Earth’s livable climate that has so far allowed human civilization to flourish. Whether that resolve is sufficient to meet the mounting challenge in a meaningful time frame is the existential question.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd echoes Pope Francis and argues that Christian ethics call on believers to battle climate change. Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Prince Charles and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan all implore the leaders gathered in Paris to meet the ethical challenge and come up with a firm commitment to achieve zero-carbon emissions in the decades ahead. Top climate scientist James Hansen warns of the “Paris deceit” in which leaders will make promises they don’t believe in or commitments they can’t deliver politically. In an interview, India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, urges the developed world, which has been emitting carbon into the atmosphere for over a century, to “vacate the carbon space” to make room for developing countries that need fossil fuels to modernize. Janos Pasztor, U.N. assistant secretary general on climate change, agrees in another interview that developed countries should carry the most burden, but that poorer countries must also find a way to balance national and global interests.

Both World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and mega-entrepreneur Richard Branson argue that clean economic growth is possible. In our Third Industrial Revolution series this week, solar energy proponent Prem Shankar Jha agrees that the climate change challenge should be seen not as a threat, but an opportunity for decisively shifting our energy base away from fossil fuels. Iceland’s foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, says the kind of geothermal power generation his small country uses has great potential elsewhere. Peter Rathje explains how Denmark is reaching its “climate neutrality” goals. The European Union’s tough commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, discusses how competitive markets are key to making renewable technologies viable. Alexandra Ma also reports that oil-rich Dubai has pledged to put solar panels on every roof by 2030.

Writing from Hong Kong, Chandran Nair conjoins the climate change challenge with that of global inequality, declaring we are facing two world wars, “the war on nature and the war of resentment.” Indian author and parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor caused a stir this week when he said “it is safer to be a cow than a Muslim in India” these days. He writes here for The WorldPost that: “We cannot simultaneously sell ourselves to the world as a land of pluralism, tolerance and Gandhianism, while promoting intolerance, communal hatred and minority insecurity within the country.” In our “Following Francis” series this month, Sébastien Maillard reports from Bangui in the Central African Republic on how, in his visit there, the pope demonstrated that the best way to fight the so-called Islamic State is by showing friendship toward Islam.

Writing from Beijing, top Communist Party theorist Zheng Bijian surveys the history of the Chinese party to illustrate its adaptive quality of changing policies instead of parties to “catch up with the times.” WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports on the toxic smog cloud that enveloped the Chinese capital this week during the Paris climate talks. We also describe how Beijing artist Wang Renzheng vacuums up the particulate matter in smog and makes a brick out of it.

Writing from Istanbul, novelist Kaya Genc worries that the intensifying war in Syria will cost Turkey its recent peace with the Kurds. The Save Our Syria coalition pleads for civilian protection as the air bombing campaign over Syria intensifies and Assad’s barrel bombs continue to fall. In this week’s “Forgotten Fact,” The WorldPost talks with human rights experts and monitors about the plight of the over 6.5 million who make up the “internally displaced population” within Syria.

Writing for HuffPost France, Éric Ouzounian, whose daughter was killed in the recent Paris attacks, blames the French political class for intervening militarily in Middle East conflicts but not intervening to integrate marginalized youth from France’s deprived neighborhoods into the mainstream. Sebastian Matthes calls on Chancellor Angela Merkel to restore a binding vision for her country. “Germans have lost a common idea of the future, “ he writes from Munich. Mark Weisbrot argues that the U.S. efforts to “delegitimize” the government in Venezuela are promoting instability in yet another part of the world.

While the world is focused on the Paris climate talks, other seminal developments are advancing under the radar. Nuclear physicist Yousaf Butt worries that a dangerous new dimension of the nuclear arms race could get underway if the U.S., China or Russia attach nuclear bombs to hypersonic boost-glide weapons. As scientists gathered this week for a major conference in Washington to discuss the dangers of gene editing, Dawn Field expresses her concerns about the unforeseen consequences. The scientist-entrepreneurs will push ethical limits to enrich themselves through activities that range from molecular plastic surgery to gene-designed pets.

At a time when immigrants are again being stigmatized by association, we look back at a photo series by Ansel Adams of an internment camp for Japanese in Manzanar, Calif. during World War II.

In a video presentation, Next Gen scientist Aaron Pomerantz describes how he discovered small yellow “bulbs” on a tree in the Amazon rainforest that is at the center of a tiny ecosystem that includes ants, caterpillars and butterflies whose wings match the strange yellow “bulbs.” Fusion this week shows what it is like to take a “neural walk” through Amsterdam where each experience is annotated. Finally, our Singularity series explores how “hacking the brain” can restore lost neural abilities.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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