You are undoubtedly familiar with the statement, Think Globally, Act Locally. Quoting from the Wikipedia (Wikipedia, 2019b, link):

"Think globally, act locally" urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities and cities. Long before governments began enforcing environmental laws, individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that live within them. These efforts are referred to as grassroots efforts. They occur on a local level and are primarily run by volunteers and helpers.

The first use of the phrase in an environmental context is disputed. Some say it was coined by David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth, as a slogan for FOE when it was founded in 1971, although others attribute it to René Dubos in 1977.

More recently, the admonition Think Globally, Act Globally has begun to come into vogue. Quoting the Duke Law Professor Jonathan Wiener (Wiener, 2007, link to PDF file):

“Think globally, act locally” is good advice for many problems, especially when interpreted not only spatially, but also conceptually as advice to adopt a systems analysis mental framework: consider the complex interconnected whole, and then do what you can to help out in your particular niche while avoiding adverse side effects on other domains. But “think globally, act locally” is not such good advice for protecting global public goods when the externalities arise from wide-spread and geographically moveable sources, and when local action would have a trivial effect or would merely shift those sources to other locales (potentially causing even greater harm). Because there is no global sovereign to institute global regulation, successful action will require cooperation by the major global actors—a diverse group of powerful national governments who will act only if they perceive their own net benefits to doing so and who are bound to a treaty only if they agree to join. Action by each major national government depends on its confidence that other major countries will also act. The difficult policy challenge of climate change is thus to produce a global public good via the mutual consent of multiple heterogeneous actors. It requires us to “think globally, act globally.” [Bold added for emphasis.]

Spend a few moments pondering what Think Globally, Act Globally means to you. What thoughts come to your mind? When I did this activity, my first thoughts were that global and national leaders should definitely be doing Global Thinking and Acting, and maybe a state such as California could do this. But me, a retired professor living in a small town in Oregon?

Then it dawned on me that I write extensively, and I make my writing available free on the Web where quite a few of my publications have international readership (Moursund, 2019, link). Further thought reminded me that I founded the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 40 years ago. There were 83 countries represented this year at the 2019 ISTE conference held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Moursund, 7/15/2019, link).

Next, I realized that I have often acted locally in a manner that has negative global effects. Many of the items I purchase in my daily life are produced or grown outside of my country, and the standard of living of many of the workers in these countries is miserable. I have traveled extensively in my own country as well as to a number of different countries, and my many airline flights have added to global air pollution. Hmm. I now realize that I routinely give little thought to many of my local actions that have a global impact.

Moreover, a number of my actions are not good for the planet earth. For example, I make extensive use of purchased products wrapped or bagged in plastic. Some of this plastic that has passed through my hands has undoubtedly helped to pollute earth’s oceans. Some of the plastic has been burned, and thus added to global air pollution. This list could unfortunately go on and on, and many of you can make long personal lists.

Final Remarks and Recommendations

Two of my recent IAE Newsletters discuss widely accepted goals of education in the United States (Moursund, 8/31/2019, link; Moursund, 9/15/2019/, link). A third newsletter, due to be published at the end of this month, addresses nine global problems (Moursund, 9/30/2019, link). If you are not already a subscriber to this free newsletter, I invite you to join our subscription list today (Moursund, 2019, link).

These three newsletters stress the importance of educating all of today’s students to consciously learn to Think and Act Globally. All of us—including all children—are part of the human population of the world. I consider myself and all adults to be citizens of the world. Our informal and formal educational systems must do their part in raising all children to be responsible and contributing adult citizens of the world.

AND, do not forget the power of children! Greta Thunberg is a very powerful example (Wikipedia, 2019a link):

Greta Thunberg (born January 2003) is a Swedish teenager who is credited with raising global awareness of the risks posed by global warming/climate change, and with holding politicians to account for their lack of action on the climate crisis.

In August 2018, at 15 years of age, Thunberg took time off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, holding up a sign calling for stronger climate action. Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together they organized a school climate strike movement, under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were at least two coordinated multi-city protests involving over one million pupils each.

Greta presents her views in a TEDx Talk, The Disarming Case to Act Right Now on Climate Change (Thunberg, 11/24/2018, link). As of 9/17/2019, this short video has had 3,085,586views. Here is the first paragraph of her talk:

When I was about eight years old, I first heard about something called climate change or global warming. Apparently, that was something humans had created by our way of living. I was told to turn off the lights to save energy and to recycle paper to save resources. I remember thinking that it was very strange that humans, who are an animal species among others, could be capable of changing the Earth's climate. Because if we were, and if it was really happening, we wouldn't be talking about anything else. As soon as you'd turn on the TV, everything would be about that. Headlines, radio, newspapers, you would never read or hear about anything else, as if there was a world war going on. But no one ever talked about it. If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn't it made illegal?

You, my adult readers, are citizens of the world. Please think about your responsibilities to the world. Take appropriate actions based on your thinking. Help facilitate our children to do likewise.

References and Resources

Thunberg, G. (11/24/2018). The disarming case to act right now on climate change. TEDx Talks. (Video, 11:12.) Retrieved 9/16/2019 from

Wiener, J. (2007). Think globally, act globally: the limits of local climate policies. PDF file retrieved 9/16/2019 from

Wikipedia (2019a). Greta Thunberg. Retrieved 9/16/2019 from

Wikipedia (2019b). Think globally, act locally. Retrieved 9/16/2019 from,_act_locally.