The warnings are loud. They are clear. Recent reports say there’s a “high likelihood” civilization could end by 2050, according to the Melbourne-based think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration — and these warnings feel apocalyptic, briefly, until they’re gobbled up by the 24-hour news cycle. Photos of sled dogs running through water, due to Greenland’s melting ice sheet, shake us and then are promptly forgotten. We are facing major threats to our future, including climate change, ecosystem functioning, fresh water crises, and insect loss. We know what is happening and we know why it’s happening.
We haven’t been able to quell the demand for consumption, we haven’t been able to force self-regulating corporations to act in our best interest instead of theirs. This is why Angus Forbes is taking a different approach. He’s advocating a Global Planet Authority — an independent, supranational authority to oversee the safety of our biosphere.
“Instinctively, it just fits,” Forbes tells What We Seee. “A global asset should have a global protector. The power of the human race has gone global. We now run the biosphere with Mother nature — that is the new point of human history. This situation didn’t exist for the last 200,000 years — or, more importantly, for the last 10,000 years of our history. But now it does. We have become so big and strong that we now have part responsibility for running the biosphere — so the question of the human race is, ‘How are we going to run it?’”
Small Slice Of Personal Sovereignty
As the founder of the charity Bankers without Boundaries and the inaugural Project Director of the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project at Clarence House, Forbes is used to generating innovative ideas and has a history in both finance and the environment. And his approach to biophysical degradation is certainly a unique one — relying on the right to self-determination and harnessing the power of the global online community.
The GPA would be endowed with powers of regulation and taxation that supercede nation-states and corporations. “We need no one’s permission to vote the Global Planet Authority into existence,” their website reads. “After numerous acts of national self-determination, it will be our first act of global self-determination.”
The rhetoric of self-determination is both fitting and compelling for the current climate crisis.
“It resonated,” Forbes explains. “I go back to a 17th-century example. Imagine you’re living in the 17th-century town in Europe, quite affluent, and you go up to the second floor and throw your waste in the street — which is of course what we used to do. You look to your left and you look to your right and everybody else is doing the same. Sure enough, disease spreads and you face existential risk — so what do you do? Because everyone’s guilty, you get together and say why don’t we create an authority to deal with the problem. You give up a small piece of personal sovereignty because you want to keep living in that village. Now we have to repeat this process, but at the global level for the first time.”
With many people feeling that they have a right to a cleaner, safer planet — and that future generations share that right — but also feeling impotent and unable to enforce it, the idea of self-determination clicks. We may want to buy sustainably, live sustainably, but we exist in an unsustainable world. We need a larger power to create a sustainable environment — and it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t give up some of their sovereignty to make that happen.
More Revolutionary Than That
Perhaps the most obvious question for someone who hears about the Global Planet Authority is the simplest one — where will their authority come from? Although as a personal citizen you may be willing to adhere to the new rules, who says that corporations and nation-states will do the same? To this end, Forbes is pursuing a number that he feels would be sufficient for humanity to enter into global governance for the first time — a minimum of 1.5 billion of us.
This would be the largest vote ever, bigger than the entire population of our largest nation-state (China’s population currently stands at 1.4 billion), twice the size of India’s national election of 800 million votes, and more than ten times the votes cast in Indonesia’s or the United States’ national elections, which hover at around 140 million votes each. The goal of the Global Planet Authority movement is to get 1.5 billion votes of support for its formation.
“There are 5.6 billion of us 18 and over,” Forbes explains. “You could argue that a majority of 2.8 billion is required, but it’s more revolutionary than that. Mandela and Gandhi, Washington and Sun Yatsen — they didn’t just wait around for a perfect mathematical majority. I am confident that 1.5 billion will do.”
Does he find the goal daunting? “Not at all,” he explains. “By the end of 2022, we’ll have five billion people online. Five billion of us will be connected global citizens and just seconds apart.” And one of the most innovative and exciting parts of his plan is that he’s not just focusing on the usual voting population — he’s including those who will be most affected by biophysical degradation: the young.
The Place Of Revolutionary Change
“Anyone who’s 13 years old and older will be allowed to vote,” Forbes says. “Throughout history, they were always there at the place of revolutionary change and self-determination. And people aged 13 to 30 are our first ever global generation. The intuitiveness of that registers with people.”
There’s no denying that the younger generation’s efforts to tackle climate change have, frankly, put previous attitudes to shame. From Greta Thunberg’s unyielding candour to global protests and walkouts, they seem to be the only generation that, en masse, is facing the true gravity and immediacy of the problem.
The vote itself also aims to capture the power of the youth movement. Forbes is currently raising awareness and releasing a book, Global Planet Authority: How We’re About To Save The Biosphere, to spread the campaign with a straightforward, easily digestible guide. But when we’re ready for a vote, he sees it happening in the most straightforward, accessible way possible — through our phones. Capitalizing on the momentum of online petitions and people’s willingness to participate through social media and online action, voting will be as simple as opting in.
It’s a plan that’s striking in its simplicity, its directness, and its hopefulness. Speaking with Forbes, it’s clear that he’s aware of the enormity of the ambition but, since the moment the seed was planted, its importance has been too big to ignore.
“I was sitting on my desk at home and it almost felt like someone slapped me on the head,” he explained. “We have to go global in our protection and running of the biosphere. We have to step into the global governance void. And, most exciting of all, for the first time in human history, our connectivity means we can actually do it through the act of global self-determination. There is no time to waste because we are ripping the biosphere apart, so we have to go now.”
To learn more about the Global Planet Authority and how to get involved, visit their website or order Global Planet Authority: How We’re About To Save The Biosphere on Amazon.