Mon, Oct 25, 2010 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Taiwan’s future

The Taipei Times reported that the Humane Genome Project is providing more evidence that it is our environment, not our genes, which causes mental illness (“Mental illness revealed to be caused by environmental factors,” Oct. 18, page 9).

As the article makes clear, the solution to this problem is state-sponsored intervention. What will be the (predictable) response of “Tea Party” conservatives and right-wing bloggers? You’ve guessed it: denial.

Whether it is scientific evidence of global warming published in the top academic journals or overwhelming evidence that our environment is in serious meltdown, as reported last week once again at the international biodiversity conference in Japan, or yet more evidence that social and educational services increase mental well-being and quality of life, the recipe for denial is as predictable as it is harmful to society. This consists of the endless repetition of cherry-picked data or outright lies, insinuations of scientific conspiracies or claims that there is still a “debate” going on because a few scientists do not belong to the consensus of 99 percent of the world’s scientific community.

The Internet is the medium of choice for such willful ignorance. This nonsense is then repeated in blog after blog, ranted about on right-wing radio and television, or shouted out at Tea Party rallies, with the repetitious slogan: The government is the source of all evil!

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, global problems of smuggling, trade imbalances, nuclear proliferation, health and environmental deterioration, to name just a few, need to be urgently addressed.

Therefore, we need strong global governance backed up by interventionist national governments more than ever, as was pointed out in another recent article in the Taipei Times (“Global power structures a growing, but still distant future,” Oct. 15, page 9).

Taiwan would greatly benefit from strong global governance, guided by a UN system that recognizes the right of people to choose their own destiny. For many reasons, not least its strong dependence on international trade and diplomatic recognition, Taiwan’s government should be at the forefront of building strong global alliances the policies of which should be based on evidence, common sense, universal rights and protection of the global commons.

By becoming a shining example of a “responsible stakeholder” for global security, as Joseph Nye puts it, Taiwan could improve its international standing and the welfare of people around the world, at once.

For example, it should heed the advice of Jurgen Lefevere and unilaterally implement cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (“Can Taiwan join in the fight against climate change?” Oct. 17, page 3). This would demonstrate good will, improve Taiwan’s international clout, get its renewable energy industry growing, improve energy security, create competitive, high-quality jobs and encourage the economy to develop in a low-carbon, high-tech and sustainable way. What’s not to like about this? Even China is doing it.

BRUNO WALTHER

Taipei

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