They are already dying from the effects of environmental destruction in poor countries, but that makes no difference because they are powerless. By the time it starts to hurt large numbers of people in powerful countries, 20 or 30 years from now, most of the politicians who conspired to smother any substantial progress at the Rio+20 Earth Summit will be safely beyond the reach of any law. But eventually there will be a law.
You can’t just blame the economy: Rio+20 would probably have ended just as badly if there had been no financial crash in 2008.
Twenty years ago the issues of climate change, biodiversity, preservation of oceans and forests, and sustainable development were relatively fresh challenges. Moreover, the world had just emerged from a long Cold War, and there was plenty of energy and hope around. Now everybody understands how tough the challenges are, and how far apart are the interests of the rich and the poor countries.
We now have a 20-year history of defeats on this agenda, and there is a lot of defeatism around. Politicians are always reluctant to be linked to lost causes, and the struggles against poverty and environmental destruction now seem to fall into that category. Thus we sleepwalk towards terrible disasters – but that doesn’t absolve our leaders of responsibility. We didn’t hire them to follow; we hired them to lead.
- Gwynne Dyer << NZ Herald