By John Bell
For years environmental critics have been labeling international Climate Change summits as “failures.” With the just completed UN-sponsored Rio + 20 conference, the press release issued by Oxfam uses a more accurate term: “hoax.”
World leaders didn’t even pretend to care. They held a G20 economic summit in Mexico at the same time, fretting about how they were going to stop the “Greek disease” from threatening their profits.
World “leaders” like Stephen Harper are not only ignoring the growing climate crisis, not only obstructing any meaningful action to address it, they are doing all they can to make the problems worse. After all, there are petro-profits to be made—damn the consequences.
The latest issue of The Economist speaks for them, happily describing the rapidly rising air and sea temperatures in the polar regions:
“In the long run the unfrozen north could cause devastation. But, paradoxically, in the meantime, no arctic species will profit from it as much as the one causing it: humans. Disappearing sea ice may spell the end of the last Eskimo cultures, but hardly anyone lives in an igloo these days anyway. And the great melt is going to make a lot of people rich.”
The Economist is wrong of course—only a very few people will get rich by stoking the fires burning our planet. For the rest of us, to so cavalierly shrug off the destruction of indigenous cultures is to abet our own destruction.
The wrongheaded “solutions” put forward by the official UN “Green Economy Initiative” are in some ways worse than G20 inaction. They advocate putting “value” on every aspect of nature, and by that they mean a dollar value. They would accelerate the privatization of the natural world so that the “free market” can solve the crisis.
Groups like the UN Global Compact take “greenwashing” to new heights, appropriating terms like “sustainability” to mean unfettered growth. Spokesperson Gavin Power told The Guardian, “Companies like certainty and in areas where there is no pricing they are very vulnerable. It could potentially push up prices in some markets but better to pay more and have certainty of supply.”
It is ridiculous to expect that corporations, driven to accumulate profit or die, will suddenly exhibit “enlightened self-interest.”
Tens of thousands of activists, led by delegations of indigenous people from Latin America and around the world, also gathered in Rio to point to a different future. They marched through the streets and committed to defend the earth.
11-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney, of the BC Sliammon First Nation, ceremonially ripped up the official UN document, an image that led the Brazilian national TV news.
These are the people that will block the pipelines planned to market the Tar Sands’ toxic oil. These are the people who will tear down the Belo Monte dam that threatens to drown 600 square kilometers of rainforest and the indigenous communities within.
These are the people with whom we must all stand in solidarity for the sake of the planet and of basic human rights.