Think globally, act locally

March 7th, 2006

In a recent discussion about Sustainability and Global Change a student asked a few renowned scientists what we can do if the current unsustainable development may not be stopped or reversed in time. After a bit of discussion the researchers came to the conclusion: Think globally, act locally.

No, I am not criticizing it (I am just lying). I wonder what it means. I am asking what those who dare to answer with this slogan want to say. More so, what do they say? What is it they are demonstrating?

Who were the ones that explained us that global thinking tends to fail miserably? At least, a good number of ecological catastrophes serves as endorsement.

What does thinking globally mean anyway? Is there a global thinking without acting? Is the act of thinking globally a local act?
Whether globally or locally we act and we think in networks of causes and effects. Are local networks less complex than global networks? If so, at what level of complexity may we stop? What is the opposite? If I am to act locally how do I know what is local and what is global? What does acting globally mean? Who decides? And is this decision an act? A local one?

What about recommendations, rules, laws, and limits? Are they global or local? In which contexts do they operate? Who is held responsible?

Of course, I am responsible for my local actions, am I not? Who is responsible for my global thinking? Me, too. That’s what we think. So, why are there laws? What does it mean that I do act in contexts of habits, traditions, ethics, and for instance European laws?

And how comes my actions are bound by the fact that an American company does not care about how their computers are produced by a company in Taiwan both of which my local dealer can’t get hold of even though it entirely broke down yesterday only 3 months after I bought it?

Do you know what the answer is? — Think globally, act locally! And the other way round.

How much time do we have?

January 27th, 2006

I believe that you can
ask the big questions about life, the universe, and everything in many ways. One of them — maybe less obvious — might be this:

How much time do we have?
And what are we going to do with it?

When I started thinking about these two questions I quickly found myself trapped in a number of feedback loops; time consuming loops, to say the least.

Yet, a whole bunch of people and scientists keep reiterating their unfortunately most valuable theories, ideas, findings, and models about what might have happened and what might happen (see e.g. Wikipedia: Global Change,, or

Assuming we have 10 years left (for whatever) what are we going to do?
Assuming we have only 1 year left (for whatever) what are we going to do?
And assuming we do not know how much time we have left what are we going to do?

Apparently, we are using time asking questions, and reading and writing posts on strange blogs.

As if the notion of time alone was not complicated enough.

Hope has two beautiful daughters

January 12th, 2006

It’s often quite amazing how one stumbles across a new idea, picture, hint, or quote: Currently, I am thinking my bit about Global Change. Then a dear friend reminded me of a picture that I once found showing a bear all covered in snow and ice, and the text said “Tested under extreme conditions”. I thought: “Well, we might need that soon.” And shortly after that: “No, wait, we are tested. Most of us for many years, even decades.”

When I searched the web for sources of the phrase “tested under extreme conditions” I found a quote by St. Augustine:

“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”

— St. Augustine

So this is hope. And, anger was what I felt about how the threats of Global Change are being dealt with. Am I courageous enough to see that things do not remain as they are? And, that an uncertain future certainly is one of these things? Do I have the courage to see that things are going to change and that this very change might change?