Global Inequality: Hindering International Cooperation

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Climate change and global warming will pose the greatest challenge to human civilization over the next century. As developed countries continue to increase production and expansion across the globe, resource depletion and global warming are inevitable. Avoiding these threats will require a previously unseen level of international cooperation, as state and national borders cannot divide environmental issues. Inequality between expanding superpowers and underdeveloped nations is an important issue as it is related to the many problems that hinder such cooperation. Because there are so many nations who are different both culturally and economically, organization of resources and efforts will certainly be challenging.

At the root of the problem of resource depletion is wealthy nations living beyond their means. These nations have enjoyed “a century or more of burning coal, oil and the other fossil fuels that underlie their mobile, industrial, climate-controlled way of life” (Revkin). In societies like the United States, the average citizen assumes the ability to drive a car to work and to warm their homes during the winter. In the 1960’s, economists and researchers did several studies to investigate the possibility of scarcity of resources. Many found that “it seemed that technical innovations and resource substitutions, driven by market incentives, had and would continue indefinitely to solve the longer-term issues” (Hall & Day). As the United States enjoyed relative economic prosperity in the following decades with low gasoline prices, a strong dependence on a scarce resource was created.

Fast-forward to today, and many developed nations have built their economies in the same way, maximizing production and consuming more than their share of limited resources. This explains why many climate experts insist that wealthy nations in the first world “owe the third world a climate debt” (Revkin). In the search for international cooperation on the issue of resource...
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