TED Conversations

Mario Tinoco

estagiario, TIM BRASIL

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How should we preserve global relevant resources?

That we need to take of our environment is no big news. The planet is changing, and we are going to suffer the consequences. Although this is a rather homogeneous view, the valuation of different problems and global commons is rather heterogeneous. And this is where i want to point this discussion to. Whether is the internationalization of global commons a pure, erga omnes, humanistic view or simply a rhetoric mechanism in defense of interests.

To shed some light in this debate i would like to present a text by Cristovam Buarque, a genius on political and humanistic matters of my country. I don't want this to be a debate over environment, but on all global commons we perceive today.


So, how should we preserve global relevant resources?


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    Jun 22 2011: How do words like "property" and "sovereignty" get their meaning? Is it merely the history of how we use those words, or is there a valuational aspect to meaning, too. Alternatively, shall we let them be defined by power?

    It seems the questions of how we are going to use and protect or not protect resources are going to be answered by by putting various spins on the definitions of these and similar words that command huge waves of emotion.

    The question of how things should be done are usually answered from the perspective of those who the decision makers think really matter. They simply ask what will really serve the people who really matter?

    Who really matters?

    I think that our different answers to that question (many of which are semi-secret answers) is what really keeps people from working together. If we really agreed on the answer to this questiom, it would not be that hard to figure out what we should do. The remaining quesions would be scientific and technological. A lot of the spin is going on just to hide the fact that most of us are not really included in the group of people that really matters to the people spinning the spin.

    The question of how internationalization ought to proceed is always answered from the perspective of the answer one chooses to give to the question, "Who really matters?"
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      Jun 23 2011: Friend, what i think it's happening (and we can see it) is that environmental problem is becoming so alarming that the answer of Who really matters is about to be popping out in consonance by every decision maker: "us".

      At least i think this way cause the Japanese problem made almost everyone i know to change their views about environment. What do you think?
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        Jun 23 2011: Generally, things are not good. We have a lot to do.

        On the poll that Lindsay has invited us to participate in, I tried to suggest some formulations which would define "us" as broadly as possible. They are not among the most widely approved suggestions. I suggested we should vote with benevolence even toward those who are not included in the electorate. It was not one of the very popular proposals. Given the political constituancy of TED, I would have expected more support.

        FOX news is very popular here. They constantly argue for a narrow definition of "us." They do not care very much for Brazilians or any one else lacking US citizenship. They even narrow which US citizens they include in "us" so far as they can without goind so narrow as to lose elections. Even that limitation does not require them to make "us" very wide since many are willing to vote with them even when they are not included.

        Our contry is divided into Red (conservative) and Blue states (liberal) The Red states are generally a combination of those who are still burdened by the values that made slavery possible and by states that are so rural that they never have to consider how to live with 7 billion other people.. The politicians from those states are still arguing that global warming is a hoax and that we will never run out of oil.

        In that context, when you see that the values that supported slavery remain dominant after almost 150 years since slavery was nominally ended in the US, one has to wonder how we can expand the definition of "us" enough to make non-exploitive internationalism possible.

        A large percentage of the reds are evangelical fundamentalists. They insist the Bible is without error. I suggest that we focus upon Jesus words to pry open the definition of "us". Jesus said the Golden Rule is the whole of the prophets and the law (the first two books of the Bible). That seems to be the wedge. Maybe that can help expand the definition of "us" in the largest world religion.
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          Jun 24 2011: That's quite a nice "new" (for me, it's hard to get an account from far) vision of U. States.

          Religion is always so complicated, almost everywhere. My country's constitution says we have no official religion and the first phrase of the same constitution is:

          we promulgate, under protection of GOD, the following constitution.

          Brazil is the largest catholic country in the world, but recently there is a huge movement towards evangelism, that has major influence on politics.

          We have juridically accepted gay marriage, but the evangelics "prohibited" the distribution of educational material about homophobia on schools, because it's against their faith. Our president accepted this. We aren't a secular State, definitely.

          The great problem of this here in Brazil, and I imagine that this is an issue on States too, is this people elects candidates ALWAYS. Any candidate that has evangelic support (except for presidential elections) wins. And this makes all candidates constrained about what they say.

          About international exploitation i agree with you, but almost every country does this. Brazil does some exploitations too, here at South America. This has some theoretical explications, but i rather don't start this here, cause it's extensive and can make this conversation boring.
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          Jun 24 2011: in the garden(can I call you something else, Al, Sue, Jim??)

          ..I agree with the bottom line of your analysis..that there is no apparent global consciousness..we have no notion of ourselves as global citizens beyond being able to connect instantly with anyone anywhere in the world..I see ithere at TED throughout all conversations..a sort of disconnect in general from the idea of being a citizen even of one's own country.

          Conversations like this give us a chance to think as global citizens..to work through what that means by working through some of the dimensions of a global issue. This is a good one.

          What happens when one country possesses a disproportionate wors share of a natural resource..like oil, gold, copper, or in the case of the amazon..when one country is literally th elung sof the world?.
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        Jun 24 2011: Hi Lindsay,

        Indigo was the name of a character in a book I read to my children. The picture I have chosen for myself is a favorite flower from my garden: Indigo Sage. So I like Indigo. It is a favorite color and is a symbol for grace which is something I aspire to. It would be a name I might chose for myself if my parents hadn't given me a name.

        But if that still feels strained, call me Phil which is short for a word I made up to name my life's project: Philempathy.
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          Jun 24 2011: This is a very creative "avatar" for internet discussions, i think i like that.
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          Jun 24 2011: Indigo it shall be..thnak you ( I lik "Phil" Philempathy too)
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      Jun 23 2011: Hi In The Garden,

      Nice to see you here

      .So, forgetting who has power to make decisions whose might will govern, how do we sort out the fact that amazon is about 1/2 (???) of the entire country of Brazil and it's their land agianst global interest in its natural resources and its.unique place on earth as "the lungs of the earth

      "who matters and what matters in this?

      This is all hypothetical by the way, as far as I know, unless Mario brings something or we fid something , there is no actual plan afoot to "internationalize" the Amazom. But it's a great way to get at the inherent issues of what remains under sovreignty and what set of global concerns supercede sovreignty

      .Any thoughts?
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        Jun 23 2011: Lindsay, there isn't any thought of setting foot on Amazon by no one, it's just discursive.

        As they (superpowers) can't just invade Brazil and take Amazonia (which has many riches btw) they create discourses to continually erode brazilian's sovereignty over amazonia. That's the use of productive power (or soft power, as commonly known).

        People get used to these terms and as sovereignty is a theoretical concept, it can be conceptually eroded with discourse. With this and with the increasing globalization fluxes the sovereignty of Brazil over Amazonia slowly diminishes, and this creates internal problems of legitimacy and with indigenous, landowners, farmers and other actors.

        About the things that supercede sovereignty i think one point of start is the R2P coalition of UN. It has some very interesting values and it actually works and justify interventions: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/

        The motives that permits the use of R2P are still narrow (but not insignificant) like genocides, ethnic cleanse and other crimes, and it is a start.

        The idea behind this is that the States have a duty to secure human rights within it's sovereignty. Case they don't do it, the R2P and international community is responsible for doing so.
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          Jun 23 2011: Mario,

          Thank you for the link to resposibilitytoprotect.org

          Looks like a good solid organization wrestling every day with what conditions transcend the rights of soverignty.

          I will spend more time there later.

          I am glad you have clarified for all of us thatthere is no imminent plan or threat to "take over" the Amazon.

          I agree, it is still a very useful and important discussion to consider because there rae some emerging trends that point to "inetrnationalization" that we should viist and consider together.
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        Jun 24 2011: Hi Lindsay,

        The question of how to split up who governs particular issues as between international, national, and local governments ought to be determined by the same priniciples that are appropriate for how one decides whether local or national governments should govern an issue. Generally, an issue should be governed by the most local government that covers all of the persons whose interests are significantly affected.

        As modern technology makes the world smaller and smaller so that there are more and more interacations between people on opposite sides of the world, more and more issues would properly be the subject of international government. We saw the same thing happen in the US. Intiially, most issues were local except for trade between the states and national defense. However, as transporation and communications technologies brought people from different states into greater and greater contact, national control over commerce became increasingly more necessary.

        Now, of course, we are stuck with a backlash over the last 30 years whereby those who want no regulation at all have argued for local regulation beause they know local regulation of matters with national significance is least effective.

        If you want the destruction of the environment to be regulated, the only effective way is thorugh international regulation, not by a federation of nations, because that just gives rights to control the environment to powerful nations rather than to the persons who will be harmed. It is just another way of avoiding environmental regulation for the benefit of humanity in general.
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          Jun 24 2011: Hello, In The Garden

          I agree that the worlds oceans, and the world's atmosphere require global management, hopefully through international agreements..as a partnership of nations. We all always point to the UN as the logical place to house emerging issues of inter-sovreignty conflct but I am not convinced that is the place without a restructuring to remove US domination

          .I am not convinced right now that the U.N. really thinks globally in terms of equality of nations or has been effective in advancing causes like Human Rights or Enviornmental Protection.

          The Instititute For Global Policy and is affiliated with the World Federalist Movement are working towards moving the U.N. in that direction/and or setting up an entirely different mechanism. :


          It is working more or less along the same lines as the Sullivan Principles ( building moral consensus, advocay, activism, influence). Enviornmental POlicy has not been a focus.
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      Jun 24 2011: Inthegarden
      I sense your frustration but you are oversimplifying things a bit. The red state blue state really has no weight. With a few exception if you are living in an urban area people will tend to be more liberal, in rural areas people tend to be conservative regardless of what state they are in. There are reasons to this. Most of rural America has been slowly eroding for decades. Farms have been consolidating leaving people to scramble for work in factories that are closing down. Much of the anger people feel is very legit, but not properly directed. As for the racism indictment, sure there are racist in rural areas, but that is found in liberal areas as well. It has as much to do with age as it does with political belief.
      I say this only to help de politicalize the argument. Just as Mario is talking about the Amazon, we have companies exploiting all they can from our section of earth. Think coal companies removing mountains. I think it is folly to put too much hope in politics. To really make a dent in these issues we need to educate people, both in what the full price of environmental exploitation is and also in teaching them they do have civic power . The thing is this can't be done if they can't be written off. Yes I know it is frustrating.

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