What’s The Point Of The Rio+20 Environment Conference?

Why are so many world leaders gathering in Rio de Janeiro if they knew beforehand that it will accomplish nothing? The run-up to the conference has been splashed across the news for the past week, and any fool who imagined something useful would come out of it will be disappointed. I, like most other people, thought it a waste of time and that nothing would be achieved. We are not wrong!

Jaw Flapping and Empty Promises

When leaders get together in this fashion to discuss something as important as the future of mankind on this planet of ours, all we get is jaw flapping and empty promises.  The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNep) has a team of very gifted scientists who warned prior to the conference that humanity may be heading for a ‘tipping point’ which will become ‘irreversible’. That is to say, we are currently doing so much damage to our environment and the planet’s biodiversity, that we will soon reach a point where the damage cannot be undone.

Despite all the empty promises made by governments during the last twenty years of the conference, improvements have been made on only four issues like green house gases and the ozone layer, while the rest, which include the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, preservation measures for the world’s oceans and seas, safeguarding the world-wide fresh water supplies and over-population are still awaiting any concrete proposals after twenty years.

Brazilian President

It is without doubt ironic that this years conference is being held in Rio, situated in a country that is doing more than any other to contribute to the devastating storms, floods and drought being experienced in the western hemisphere by decimating the Brazilian rain forest.  

The Amazon, the largest rain forest on the planet, is steadily being burnt and hacked away, and at the current rate will be a shadow of its former self in just a decade or two. The world’s oceans are rapidly becoming a cesspool of discarded plastic and rubbish, and the fish stocks are being decimated without being given time to recover. Fairly soon water shortages in many countries will become so acute, as to cause mass migration to areas more capable of sustaining human life. This in itself will cause major upheaval across the world.

Another problem such conferences fail to discuss is the steadily climbing over-population in the world. China is the only country that has imposed limits on how many children a married couple may have in order to stem the booming population growth, and that was enacted in 1978.

Population Growth

India is another nation with an unsustainable population growth, but is doing nothing to address the problem. Within a couple of decades we will surely see many other countries enforcing a similar rule to that of China, for population growth is expanding like a runaway train, and pretty soon the Earth will simply not be able to sustain that level of life.

Biodiversity is also being hit hard, and soon we will begin to see the effects of our carelessness as more and more species of plants, insects and animals disappear for ever. 

But can we expect governments to address these problems comprehensively, not on your life! As an example let me use the oil producing countries and the oil industry. They refuse to even hear about removing the subsidies on fossil fuels – why? Because the former will sell less oil and the latter will make less profit!

The World’s Plastic Islands

Knowing full well about the country-sized gyres that have become floating islands of discarded plastic in all our oceans, does any government look to ban a simple thing like the plastic bag – No? Why? – Because it is being blocked by the plastic industry.

The Brazilian government has the power to stop illegal loggers and farmers devastating the forest with their activities, but do they do it – no! Why? – Because there’s money in it.

Biodiversity Loss

Why don’t the fishing nations crack down on illegal fishing and declare far more areas of our oceans protected in order to allow the fish stocks to recover? Why are the Japanese still allowed to ignore the ban on hunting whales with the laughable excuse that ‘its for research’?

We all need to put some serious thought into these problems and force governments to take positive action to save the planet, for if the scientists are correct, we have a very small window of opportunity to act before its too late.

Roy. 

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