A Reflection on Overcoming Challenges in the Globalization of the Environment

The following piece is a reflection written by our Baha’i Chair Student Intern, Sara Rissanen. This piece discusses Overcoming Challenges in the Globalization of the Environment, one of the five central themes of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace.

Overcoming Challenges in the Globalization of the Environment is the last of the five central themes of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace. As an intern for the Baha’i Chair, I have learned the essence of this theme and have come to see how it plays out in my own life and our world as a whole. In saying that, I am still a student, learning every day how to bring about a world of peace. I hope you enjoy these thoughts and reflections on what this theme means to me and how I see it playing out in our world today.

Global climate change is the biggest issue facing our world today. The thing about climate change is that we cannot just solve climate change in an individual country. Our world has a global environment. There is no way to separate the harmful effects of one country’s carbon emissions from another’s. When temperatures and sea levels rise, they rise globally. Because of this, climate change is a problem that can only be solved with the globalization of climate policy. 

When emphasizing globalization, we cannot fail to recognize the structural inequality of climate change. With fifty percent of the world’s population living in poverty, industrialized and developed nations need to recognize that their consumption of the earth’s resources and the emissions from this consumption is not only negatively impacting their own country’s population, but also countries across the globe. 

Our global climate crisis is a root of frustration for many individuals in the younger generation. Scientists are now telling us that at the pace we are going by 2050 climate change will pose an existential threat. I’ve heard many young climate activists share their fear of being left with a dying planet with no means to turn it around. I am sad to say that the United States has not done enough to combat climate change on a national level. From pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement to delisting climate change from national security threats, I can say very objectively that our current administration is not doing all they can to create a livable climate for future generations. 

I had the opportunity to attend the Baha’i Chair’s Global Climate Crisis this past spring. Speakers were invited from all over the world but also from all realms of environmental work. I realized how wide the impact of and solution to climate change is. Climate change solutions intersect with production regulations, energy consumption, food security, and much more. These are all aspects that need to be addressed when thinking globally about climate solutions. 

While climate change is a global issue, the solution can start within your own life. Richard Houghton, a speaker at the Baha’i Chair’s Climate Crisis Conference, put it this way: “Everything you do is making a vote for that way of living. We have to rethink what we are investing in.” The small things we do every day impact our environment. It is important to remember that our vote has power and there is power in how we vote with our dollar as well. I like to think that if you work to take personal action to combat climate change, others are able to see that and will be inspired to make similar changes. Through starting conversations and working together, we can work to change the policies within our own countries. 

The Baha’i Chair recognizes that, while there are technical solutions to climate change, what is actually required is a non-technical solution — one that requires a fundamental shift in the human values and morality that impact the environment. This requires each of us to shift our perspective on the environment. Resources can no longer be regarded as things to be used selfishly. Seeing climate change through an unselfish lens allows us to consider how our actions are affecting others in our world today and in generations to come. 

Looking to learn more about Overcoming Challenges in the Globalization of the Environment? You can view all of the lectures in this series on our YouTube channel here.

About the Author

Sara Rissanen is a junior studying Marketing at the University of Maryland. She is currently the Marketing Specialist at the Baha’i Chair for World Peace. Sara hopes to create a better future by opening the conversation of peace-building among her peers.

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