Is the World Really Flat? Global
Fuel, Food and Finance Crises
London, UK - 5th May 2008, 00:29 GMT
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors
are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]
It has been a long march since Thomas Friedman declared the
world to be flat. This thinking may have its boundary conditions, which
are now being tested as the global fuel, food and finance crises loom ever
larger. The idea that people are suddenly competing on an equal playing
field internationally and within nations is incongruous with the harsh realities
appearing in a number of countries and across a number of communities within
the same country. The world does not appear to be flat to those without
sufficient food in their stomach, much less fuel in their car than what
they used to fill-up about a year ago, or the possibility of losing their
home because they cannot keep up with their interest payments.
Look closely: far from being flat, the world economy is really characterised
by growing disparities and tensions across regions manifest both within
and without countries. Globalisation may well be a win-win in the Technicolor
presentation of the world is flat but in the here and now, it is profoundly
asymmetrical as many communities across many countries have hit insurmountable
barriers in the last year or so associated with the soaring price of fuel,
food and finance. In parallel, the phenomenon of devastating famine and
flash floods owing to climate chaos is rendering "the world is flat"
argument as more and more questionable by the day. If the world is flat,
how do we take account of:
1. Climate chaos and environmental problems that threaten the world's communities
across many countries?
2. The poor countries becoming poorer as they buy fuel and food for their
requirements at 200% to 400% more than what they were paying not long ago.
3. Emerging technologies as guiding forces for the future with an endless
array of ethical dilemmas?
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