Group 24@Sophia: New York Climate Summit 2014

This is another lesson from the transformative movements of the past: all of them understood that the process of shifting cultural values—though somewhat ephemeral and difficult to quantify—was central to their work. And so they dreamed in public, showed humanity a better version of itself, modeled different values in their own behavior, and in the process liberated the political imagination and rapidly altered the sense of what was possible. They were also unafraid of the language of morality—to give the pragmatic cost/benefit arguments a rest and speak of right and wrong, of love and indignation.

There are plenty of solid economic arguments for moving beyond fossil fuels, as more and more patient investors are realizing. And that’s worth pointing out. But we will not win the battle for a stable climate by trying to beat the bean counters at their own game—arguing, for instance, that it is more cost-effective to invest in emission reduction now than disaster response later. We will win by asserting that such calculations are morally monstrous, since they imply that there is an acceptable price for allowing entire countries to disappear, for leaving untold millions to die on parched land, for depriving today’s children of their right to live in a world teeming with the wonders and beauties of creation.

The climate movement has yet to find its full moral voice on the world stage, but it is most certainly clearing its throat—beginning to put the very real thefts and torments that ineluctably flow from the decision to mock international climate commitments alongside history’s most damned crimes.

Some of the voices of moral clarity are coming from the very young, who are calling on the streets—and, increasingly, in the courts—for intergenerational justice. Some are coming from great social-justice movements of the past, like Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, who has joined the fossil-fuel divestment movement with enthusiasm, declaring that “to serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.” Most of all, those clarion voices are coming from the front lines of the movement some have taken to calling “Blockadia”: from communities directly impacted by high-risk fossil-fuel extraction, transportation and combustion—as well as from those parts of the world already coping with the impacts of early climate destabilization.


Globalization and Interconnectedness: A Global Grocery Story for Education – Team 24 Sophia

At Harvard University, Nayan Chanda, Founder of Yale Global Online said “Globalization means reconnecting the human community.” He further mentioned that globalization has been an age-old process. For centuries, we as a race have been migrating to different lands, exchanging goods, services and ideas to improve our lives. “With globalization our interconnectedness and interdependence have grown.”

As I was going through my weekend shopping bills, I noticed how truly global my grocery receipt was. If I could only issue passports, the apples would be tagged Indian, Nectarines would be “United Stadians” (learned this term for U.S. at Harvard, HGSE), Guavas were of Thai origin, Cherries were very Canadian, the Ginger stick was Chinese, Figs were Turks, Tomatoes were Spanish, Chilies were South African, Potatoes were Peruvian and Coriander was Vietnamese. While I was selecting the fresh produce, I felt more like an immigration officer doing the required inspection before entry into the country or in my case, the shopping cart. As the fruits and vegetables made way into my cart, I felt like I was organizing a mini summit of the United Nations.

While multiple thoughts were buzzing in my head, I just chuckled to myself because all this fresh produce from various nations was available for me (not a royalty, aka simple person) to consume in a sand land. Now those who know Dubai definitely understand what it is capable of accomplishing, and how it is always ahead of the curve. Dubai does the most extra ordinary things that the human mind can comprehend. So, it was no revelation but it is also not an ordinary event to have most fruits and vegetables available all year round in such weather conditions.

Every time I grocery shop in Dubai or other parts of the first world, I am just amazed at how far we have come as a human race, and what we have achieved with the help of globalization, research and technology. It seems like everything is available, everywhere, and all the time. (When I say this, I mean in the developed nations of the world). It is like you don’t miss anything anymore, and you have a variety of options.

Recently, a friend of mine in the U.S. asked me if I miss anything in particular about the U.S., and I said none because everything that is available in the U.S. is also readily available where I live. From odd food joints to clothing lines, everything seems to be in real time sync with a little bit of variation to suit the cultural palate of the given nation.

I truly find it fascinating to be in the middle of an unknown land (developed or developing), and yet have a few familiar signs that make me automatically comfortable. E.g. McDonalds, Ikea, H&M, Aldo, Starbucks, Roundtable, Cheesecake Factory, Apple, Google, Burger King, KFC, Gevalia, Twix, Kitkat, Tang, Coke, Pepsi, Loreal, Nivea, Hindustan Unilever etc. It makes me think that I can survive in any land, due to the familiarity of these global icons.

While growing up, I did not have this kind of global exposure. I had never seen a Broccoli stalk or even an Avocado, let alone a McDonalds but these days they are everywhere. I still remember the joy I had when I ate my first Dragon Fruit and Mangosteen in Thailand, the delicious Kiwis in Italy and the very scrumptious dates in Arab land. Back in my time, milk did not have variations like 1 percent, 2 percent, Half and Half, Fat Free. Milk was milk, and you had to just drink it. So much has changed, and so many things have been standardized. I sometimes wonder, if this whole globalization process will kill curiosity and make people stop exploring other parts of the world because they have everything available in their own country?

For me this global grocery exercise has opened up many questions but also confirmed an important lesson. I have understood that even though most of the ingredients in my Indian food were grown in a foreign land, in the end it still tasted authentically Indian. This just illuminates the power, interdependence, and interconnectedness of the whole planet. I think this central message of ‘interconnectedness’ needs to be conveyed to every person in the world, especially every student in any education system. So that they can aspire to become global citizens with an identity flavor that they can truly call their own.

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