The Earth Summit or put modestly, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that was held in Rio de Janeiro twenty years ago promised a whole lot. Its sole agenda was to bring about sustainable development to the whole world, the presumption being, the development/growth trajectory we are on was/is unsustainable. To this effect, the summit established the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Convention on Biological Diversity and later on UNCCD, Convention to Combat Desertification.
The laudable objective of implementing concrete measures, however, never really got off the ground. Those who are/were the major protagonists of unsustainable development and growth couldn’t command the will to change their destructive ways. When it comes to concrete enforceable/binding agreements that could have paved the way for a more pro-life models of development, the achievement of the last two decades is essentially zilch, zero, naught! What has been achieved rather; is the bureaucratization of issues and the proliferation of institutions to effectively shield the politicos and their states from the fierce challenge of the global beast (human mass) that is now turning viral!
Here is what the prestigious science magazine, ‘Nature’ has to say about the politicos on its recent editorial. “The collective failure to fulfill those initial pledges is all too evident. Countries have increased the rhetoric and their political commitments, but there is little to show for 20 years of work, apart from an impressive bureaucratic machine that has been set to indefinite idle. On urgent environmental issues, the world has perfected the art of incremental negotiation and redefined circular motion. Meanwhile, as documented elsewhere in this issue, pressure on the planet continues to build, greenhouse-gas emissions are still rising and species are still disappearing… It is hard to avoid a certain sense of gloom, if not doom.” The Nature editorial summarizes the expectations for the upcoming conference as being “so low that almost any agreement or affirmation would qualify as a success.”
True to form, the global establishment firmly locked on the rhetoric while shooting down all sorts of plausible measures that could have arrested the ongoing carnage/devastation. Since issues associated with environmental problems are thorny, (reduction of green house gases) unwieldy and diffused, politicos could easily wiggle out of serious and binding agreements, as was/is the case in the various ‘climate change conferences’ (Kyoto.) As the ultimate desire of global politicos is to cling to power at whatever cost, (even life itself) humanity cannot count on them, at least not for important life and death issues. The window of sanity is closing on us and to assume, as the politicos do that the consequence of our habitual nature-manipulation will always be latent and won’t show up in our life time, is to be, not only callous narcissists, but also down right stupids! But that is exactly what the global leaders, sorry political leaders think (modern politicians are not leaders.) Their current position/occupation is such that they just don’t have the staying power, determination, confidence and integrity, to tackle major global issues, political rhetoric aside. That is why we believe the urgent matter of ‘life and death’ or put equivalently, ‘nature vs humans’ is too important to be left to the politicos of modern states! It is the global beast (collective human mass) that must rise to the challenge by igniting global civil disobedience of massive proportion to save life and life support systems on our planet! Such movements ultimately will create their own ‘Ghandis, Mandelas, and Kings.
If truth be told, many of the politicos are not only parochial creatures whose world view is confined to the ephemeral concepts of power and greed, but are genuinely imbecile. Rio + 20 will miss, amongst others, Obama, Merkel and Cameron. Don’t forget modern politicos worship, to a large extent, the greed god of the market. This powerful import of the market place to the political arena is the major culprit behind the rejection of global governance based on life values (including humans.) So long as there is money to be made by extracting natural resources and polluting the earth, the politicos will jump on the bandwagon, after all they are for economic development and growth! According to their implied logic, if economic growth is to come at the expense of life itself, so be it! Surely, it is less than the 1% of humanity that can fully endorse such an absurd reasoning, but politicos usually and gladly oblige to this twisted logic, so long as they can remain in the political lime light for a bit longer.
Rio + 20 will be just another jamboree to celebrate the idiocy of nation-states and their unsustainable ways. To be sure, there will be high sounding rhetoric that will be spinned and spewed out of the conference and carried by the paid media, corporate or otherwise, across the globe. But we can assure you, there won’t be anything meaningful coming out of Rio + 20! To those who have been struggling to preserve life on earth, we suggest other approaches/options, besides nation-states driven ones, must be earnestly entertained. See Sukhdev’s article next column. History had witnessed politicos making big blunders after bigger blunders throughout the ages. It seems they are just not cut out to enable life, (they make wars) and are probably good only at sustaining greed and wickedness! No wonder the philosopher vented: “The only thing humans learn from history is; they don’t learn from history.” Hegel. Good Day!