Global problems of mankind are social and natural problems on the solution of which depends the progress, development and preservation of civilization. The author of the book believes that they concern all people in all countries (Payne, 2016, 3). There is no approved classification of global problems or gradation, which of them is more relevant. The author of the book is convinced that global problems are interconnected and threaten the destruction of humanity, so they must be solved as quickly and efficiently as possible (Payne, 2016, 3). And to solve such problems, joint efforts of all countries are needed. If the author wanted students to get one idea out of the book, it would sound like this.
This book is based on ten philosophical components that are woven throughout each chapter and throughout the book. Contemporary examples, maps, photographs, and charts are also presented to give students a deeper understanding of the nature of global issues. It seems that the author’s goal was to demonstrate the diversity and interconnectedness of global problems (Payne, 2016, 3). Payne had no desire to create a book that dealt with certain problems from only one point of view, from one perspective. On the contrary, the author sought to analyze as impartially as possible the cause-and-effect relationships, the role of certain states and their policies in the aggravation of global problems.
Human economic activity has affected many biological processes and, as a consequence, ecological problems have emerged. Already now mankind is strongly affected by water pollution, air pollution, the greenhouse effect and global warming. Social inequality, the gap between the economies of countries is also related to the scarcity of resources (Payne, 2016, 23). People are running out of oil, natural gas, coal, metals, timber, and clean drinking water. These resources are non-renewable, and the current economic situation does not allow people to simply give up using them. They must be replaced by something, so mankind is trying to actively develop alternative energy sources.
It seemed to me quite reasonable and justified how the author addressed the process of globalization as a catalyst of current economic, political, and cultural problems. His thesis that global problems are a product of the modern development of humankind and, therefore, have no counterpart in the past seemed logical to me. However, I do not entirely agree with the author’s position that the growing interconnectedness and interdependence of the economies of different countries and regions create new problems for humanity. On the contrary, it seems to me that such a situation gives an opportunity for international dialogue, and that global communication itself makes it possible to solve some issues in real time. Nevertheless, I appreciated how the author simply explains terms, logically moves from one section to another, and adds visual and statistical data to back up his arguments.
One of the weaknesses of the book, I would say, is the lack of sources of literature to which I can refer in case I want more detailed information. It seems as the readers should trust the author even though there is no confirmation of the validity of his words in the book. I also believe that articles, journals, or Internet sources should have been placed after each chapter to provide additional information on the topic. I understand that during the preparation for this publication, the author had to study a lot of material, maybe even create some graphs and charts of his own. Therefore, I see no reason why the author would not share with students those works that served as the basis for writing this book.
I particularly enjoyed how the author pointed out in chapter two that America’s domestic problems, especially the growing budget deficit, threaten American power. I liked how Payne was able to clearly demonstrate major trends and threats to the United States (2016, 16). In particular, he wrote that some of these challenges to U.S. security come from countries that are growing rapidly economically, such as China, India, and Brazil. Industrial growth in intensively developing China has turned the country into an ecological disaster zone. Megacities, where production is concentrated, are becoming unfit for human habitation due to extreme pollution. Environmental problems, which are extremely relevant for countries that use non-renewable resources, should also be given attention, wrote Payne.
Cultural globalization, like many other phenomena, has both positive and negative effects on all spheres of social life. Thus, in the process of globalization, developed and developing societies are enriched in various spheres of life (economic, trade, and industry). On the other hand, they often lose elements of their national culture, their uniqueness, their sense of independence and autonomy. The synthesis of different cultures on the basis of universal values can indeed give impetus to the further development of human civilization. However, as Payne writes, the dominant culture is always the Western one as it seems the most progressive (2016, 9). This imposition of one culture as supposedly more advanced leads to global cultural conflicts.
I think I used to think that countries could solve some global issues on their own. But now I understand the importance of international cooperation, and it has become clear to me that the fate of the planet depends on the speed of solutions and compromise. I have learned how much the escalation or de-escalation of a problem depends on the political decisions that are made, as well as on the degree of economic development.
I found the author’s theory of three main directions in the theoretical consideration of globalization extremely relevant. These directions include the following ways of thinking: hyperglobalist, skeptical, and anti-globalist. The first theory insists on the inevitability of globalization and, as a consequence, the unification of the world. According to the second theory, the process of globalization is not so unambiguous, and its costs in some cases become the reason why there is a localization of cultures. Anti-globalists argue that globalization is impossible in principle due to the specificity of the civilizational structure of the world (Payne, 2016, 114). The theory discussed by the author is extremely important because it makes it clear what guides the leaders of countries when making decisions regarding global issues.
The author writes that current global problems are solved jointly by the governments of most countries, which is the main characteristic of a relevant public policy in relation to current circumstances. In addition, the solution to global issues becomes possible only if countries adhere to the principles of sustainable development. The author divides the preconditions for the emergence of a sustainable development strategy into socio-economic and environmental ones. Mankind has long focused exclusively on the resources of the planet. In this approach, the key value has been meeting society’s needs at the expense of nature. The result of such economic management was a significant depletion of the resource potential of the natural environment and its certain degradation. As a consequence, global economic, social and environmental problems arose.
Environmental safety becomes the object of protection and regulation through institutionalized measures taken both at the local (environmental legislation of different countries) and at the regional and international levels. Restrictions are imposed on carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere (Kyoto Protocol), on the content of harmful substances in car exhaust gases and industrial waste (Payne, 2016, 139). Environmentally friendly technologies and products are developed and implemented, as well as reusable products that reduce the pressure on the environment. Therefore, to eradicate poverty it is necessary to combine national, regional and international efforts, to increase employment, health and education.
In addressing any significant issue on the global or regional agenda, states and intergovernmental organizations cannot do without international law. This is evidenced by the success of the international community on the situation in Syria, in the settlement and prevention of a number of territorial disputes in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region (Payne, 2016, 10). In addition, non-governmental organizations have succeeded in launching numerous integration projects, the rights of people have been protected much more intensively and effectively than before. However, violation of international legal obligations and disregard for basic human rights continue to play a role as a destroyer of international cooperation. International law requires comprehensive and continuous work from all states without exception. Accordingly, unless a compromise is reached with the heads of one country or another, progress on specific global issues can be greatly delayed.
I think that the author was able to clearly analyze the main current global problems of the modern world. The policy he proposes is effective and reasonable in my opinion. Payne was guided by contemporary examples and proposed solutions to these problems, based on empirical analysis and the results of scientific research. What he did not mention, however, was that this approach, based on the concerted action of most states, is not always rapid. After all, the desires and goals of countries may differ, so it would have been worth mentioning ways to accelerate the achievement of consensus.
Payne, Richard J. Global Issues: Politics, Economics, and Culture. Pearson, 2016.