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Global Perspective

A Dialogue Between East and West

Hinduism, Buddhism and the Rise of Global Civil Society—Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner and Daisaku Ikeda

Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner. Illustration by Rickyhadi / Fiverr

Ikeda Sensei has had dialogues with leading figures throughout the world to advance peace. To date, more than 80 of his dialogues have been published in book form. This series highlights one dialogue a month. The following excerpts are from A Dialogue Between East and West (pp. 37–44).

Environmental Conservation

Ikeda Sensei exchanges views with Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner in Tokyo, February 1996. Photo by Seikyo Press.

Daisaku Ikeda: The Club of Rome … was one of the earliest organizations to issue warnings about the complex interdependence of worldwide problems, including global warming, atmospheric pollution, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain, desertification and the destruction of forests.

Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner: Yes. These issues were at the core of our early debates. … In Beyond the Limits, we argued that humanity has already passed the stage at which growth can be continued without burdening the environment. At the same time, we indicated new developments that would make a solution to the problem possible. We stated that, in many instances, the speed with which human beings waste essential natural resources and emit pollutants has already exceeded physical sustainability. We then expressed our belief that there is still room for human wisdom and creativity if we immediately reflect on and correct our actions.

Ikeda: Now, several decades later, the points made in the first report remain pressing. Though the situation is difficult, it would be pointless simply to give up. The global environmental problem involves complicated elements; but since human beings created them all, human beings can deal with them. Doing so requires consolidating international public opinion and cultivating popular solidarity. …

Saving the environment requires a global revolution that must start with individual human revolutions.

Hochleitner: It is indeed. With compassion and a sense of responsibility, we must prepare models for future lifestyles. Only the human revolution can develop our inherent strengths, fully enlighten us to our essential nature and enable us to act in accordance with it. The human revolution is the only way for us to use computers, satellites, machines, atomic generators and electronics wisely for the sake of our fellows, in ways that will work harmoniously with our terrestrial environment and even with the whole universe.

Ikeda: Global warming, one of the steadily worsening environmental problems facing us today, is said to be caused, at least in part, by increased carbon dioxide emissions. Measurements of global carbon dioxide concentrations began at the South Pole in 1957. At that time, the mean was 315 parts per million (ppm). In 2003, the world average was 374ppm (412ppm as of 2020[1]). Statistics of increasing average global temperatures were first taken in 1880. Since then, the average has grown by about 0.7 degrees centigrade per century (the global average has since surpassed 1.0 degree centigrade[2]).

Hochleitner: Yes, and as well as global warming, the oceans are becoming seriously polluted. Although pollution of fresh water on land masses is frequently discussed, people seem to forget about seawater, although it accounts for most of all water on Earth.

A treasury of life forms, the oceans can absorb carbon dioxide, exchanging harmful gases for beneficial ones in amounts exceeding the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange produced by our forests. Nonetheless, insufficient measures are being taken to protect them; petroleum films on the ocean surface destroy vast amounts of plankton, immense coral reefs are dying. Decisive steps to deal with petroleum pollution and global warming have yet to be taken.

Ikeda: Each human life is endowed with limitless potential for overcoming all difficulties and creating a new age of order and harmony. The question is how to develop that potential. This is the most fundamental issue of the 21st century.

Of course, to conserve the global environment, we must have concrete knowledge of the current situation and learn and implement policies and standards, but what is now needed most is for us to conquer our narrow egoism. For the sake of the happiness of both the self and others, each individual urgently requires a reliable, symbiotic philosophy and course of action. I am convinced that this is the key to successful conservation.

Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner

(August 11, 1928–April 1, 2020)

Notable Achievements

Spanish professor and economist, served as Spain’s under-secretary of state for education and science from 1956–57.

Was deputy minister of education in Colombia from 1956–57.

Held positions in global organizations such as the World Bank and UNESCO.

Served as president of the Club of Rome from 1991–2000.

In 2001, became advisor for the United Nations to Costa Rica’s University for Peace.


  1. <accessed on January 6, 2022>. The rapid increase in carbon dioxide concentrations means that more heat is trapped in the atmosphere, leading to rising global temperatures. ↩︎
  2. <accessed on January 6, 2022>. The current increase in the average global temperature drives a reduction in sea ice, rise in ocean level and devastating weather events such as intensifying hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, etc. ↩︎

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