Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



1983. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, XI:3-8. Copyright © 1983 Hubbard, Jr.


The dialogue between the Northern and Southern hemispheres of this one Earth is concerned with the issue of human equity. It is the dialogue between those in the north who have an abundance of goods and services, with a generally improving opportunity for self-fulfillment, as contrasted with those in the south who are deficient in even rudimentary goods and services and whose opportunity for self-fulfillment is not only smaller than their brothers' in the north but is probably diminishing.

The mind·numbing plight of the poorest of the poor in this world shall not be inventoried in any detail. The absolute quality of that poverty defies the very language used to describe poverty as known in the United States. While there is valid concern with the quality of water drunk by humans in the Northern Hemisphere, it is a problem orders of magnitude removed from the grossly contaminated water available to more than one-half of the people of the Southern Hemisphere and responsible for most of the infant deaths associated with diarrhea.

Unemployment in urban centers of the Northern Hemisphere is an appropriate concern, but the increasingly urbanized population of the Southern Hemisphere has unemployment rates that approach two·thirds of some cities' population and, if anything, are increasing rather than decreasing.

With only a few outstanding exceptions, the new countries that have been created since World War II in the Southern Hemisphere have populations that are deeply disappointed with the outcome of political autonomy. Governments are overwhelmingly non·representative and authoritarian, centralized in their decision making, and militaristic in their power base. The promise of free trade in an open market bringing inevitable benefits has proved cruelly elusive. The opportunity to participate in the benefits of a technology that is ever more sophisticated and more nearly science based has evaded the developing countries as they have at· tempted to use it in their industrialization programs.

In the North-South dialogue, the majority of the people of the world seek a new economic era characterized by self-reliance and an equality of access to the productive resources of the world. The Northern Hemisphere, for its part, seeks to maintain the functional integrity of that system to which the Southern Hemisphere seeks access. Philanthropy that perpetuates dependency is unacceptable; and so is a set of responses that would give away established technology without preserving its source. Whether the tensions created by the terrifying difference between the "haves" and "have-nots" of this world will tolerate the constrained rate of change desired by the Northern Hemisphere is, at best, problematic and has a character of tragic drama, since the uncertainty transforms this dialogue into a discussion of the future of humanity.

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