Managing global change

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Managing global change may be attempted when individuals and/or organizations with sufficient power to hope to make a difference realize that world conditions are changing in ways that may be problematical. Some changes occur that are strongly influenced by individuals such as Confucius, Siddhartha, Jesus, Mohammed, or (on the other hand), Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Even in those cases there may be underlying trends motivated by regional or global conditions that are highly resistant to human control.

Trends motivating management attempts

In the twenty-first century several trends are cooperating to exert profound influences on the lives of individuals, the functioning of communities, the governance of nations, and the management of international relations; one is global warming. It is possible that the long-term trend in ensolation is downward (leading toward a future mini-ice age or ice age), stable, or increasing (leading toward higher temperatures and related environmental changes). A further factor at work is the accelerating addition of greenhouse gasses due to human activities. The only time that the heat of the lights of a TV studio is a welcome addition is when the studio has started to get chilly. If the studio was already getting too warm before the lights went on, the additional heat would be unwelcome.

In addition to global warming (which may well reduce agricultural productivity at least on a regional basis), the population of the world is growing rapidly. Some areas of the globe are experiencing negative population growth, and other areas have population densities so high that life cannot be very good for ordinary citizens living there. Individuals in areas with a high ratio of population to resources adjacent to areas with a lower ratio will be motivated to move to greener pastures. National borders are always permeable to some extent and the higher the migratory pressures the stronger the barriers will need to be. Inevitably, populations will tend toward equilibrium. For the United States this dynamic means that inevitably few people will migrate south of the border and many people will move north of the border. The rate of this migration, the selection of individuals whose migration is facilitated (or, not deliberately impeded), and even the qualities of the environments in nations south of the border are all factors that one may attempt to manage. The success rate of management attempts will have something to do with how well managers actually understand all the factors in play.

A third major change factor is the decline in easily available fossil fuels. The more demand there is for a resource, the more rapidly it will be used up. When future finds are impossible to predict and demands are accelerating rapidly, it is inevitable that the gasoline tank of the world's engine will run out with only a short period of sputtering. When oil was still seeping from the ground, the only cost involved in obtaining it was for transportation. But now oil wells must be drilled in the sea beds, and oil must be pumped from great depths. Oil in sand or shale must be extracted. It requires energy to secure oil, much of it being supplied by gasoline or diesel fuel used in the drills, pumps, and distribution system. At some point the energy required to obtain a gallon of oil will exceed the amount of energy contained in that same volume of oil. Then, oil will be primarily useful as a raw material for certain manufactured hydrocarbon products.

Management decisions

  1. Does one choose to improve one's own nation at the cost of damage to other countries?
  2. Does one choose to maintain the status quo in one's own country by fending off immigration from abroad?
  3. Does one choose to minimize population flows by equalizing the factors that promote migration?
  4. Does one attempt to secure energy resources for one's own nation and deny them to other nations?
  5. Does one attempt to develope alternative energy resources so that demand for fossil fuels falls?
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