Published: Wednesday 22 August 2012
“Our own generation urgently needs to spur another era of great social change. This time, we must act to save the planet from a human-induced environmental catastrophe.”

Great social change occurs in several ways. A technological breakthrough – the steam engine, computers, the Internet – may play a leading role. Visionaries, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, may inspire a demand for justice. Political leaders may lead a broad reform movement, as with Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.

Our own generation urgently needs to spur another era of great social change. This time, we must act to save the planet from a human-induced environmental catastrophe.

 

Each of us senses this challenge almost daily. Heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires, retreating glaciers, polluted rivers, and extreme storms buffet the planet at a dramatically rising rate, owing to human activities. Our $70-trillion-per-year global economy is putting unprecedented pressures on the natural environment. We will need new technologies, behaviors, and ethics, supported by solid evidence, to reconcile further economic development with environmental sustainability.

 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is taking on this unprecedented challenge from his unique position at the crossroads of global politics and society. At the political level, the UN is the meeting place for 193 member states to negotiate and create international law, as in the important treaty on climate change adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. At the level of global society, the UN represents the world’s citizenry, “we the peoples,” as it says in the UN Charter.  At the societal level, the UN is about the rights and responsibilities of all of us, including future generations.

 

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Published: Saturday 10 September 2011
We look back at several national and international events linked to that dreadful day on 9/11/01

On the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we look back at several national and international events linked to that day. This year on September 11, India will mark the 105th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi launching the modern nonviolent resistance movement. We play part of a 2003 interview with Gandhi’s grandson, Arun. On September 11, 1990, renowned Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack was assassinated in Guatemala City. She had been stalked for two weeks prior to her death by a U.S.-backed military death squad in retaliation for her work to expose and document the destruction of rural indigenous communities by U.S.-backed state forces and allied paramilitary groups. We play part of a 2003 interview with Myrna’s sister Helen Mack, who has fought tirelessly to bring justice to people killed by high-ranking Guatemalan officials in the armed forces. On September 11, 1993, in the midst of the U.S.-backed coup in Haiti, Antoine Izméry was dragged out of a church by coup forces and murdered in broad daylight. He had been commemorating a massacre of parishioners at the Saint-Jean Bosco Church that had occurred five years earlier on September 11, 1988. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide narrowly escaped death in that attack, and later became president of Haiti. We play an excerpt from a 2004 Democracy Now! interview with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide about the attack. We also play a portion of the film "Ghosts of Attica," about Frank "Big Black" Smith, a prisoner who played a prominent role in the September 9, 1971, Attica prison rebellion and who was tortured by the troops who crushed the uprising days later. 

Transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest at Duke University, in studio there, Ariel Dorfman, bestselling author, playwright, poet, ...

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