By David Suzuki (excerpted)
“Representatives from more than 150 nations gathered in Rio de Janeiro the week of June 21 for Rio+20, also known as United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. There’s lots of talk. We’ve been hearing about the green economy, the business opportunities of including the environment in financial transactions, the need for technological innovation to overcome major ecological challenges, the financial mechanisms needed to spur innovation and proper corporate behaviour to move toward a sustainable future.
We heard it all before in 1992, when Agenda 21, a massive blueprint for a sustainable future, was adopted and soon after spurned by most rich nations because it cost too much (0.7 per cent of annual national GDP).
Once again, delegates have arrived with expense accounts and fancy hotel accommodations to discuss yet another statement, building on the failed statements of the past while the world confronts a biosphere even more severely damaged by millions of acres of destroyed forests, two billion more people, and atmospheric carbon concentrations nearing tipping-point levels. In 1992, 1,700 senior scientists from around the world and more than half of all Nobel prize winners alive at the time released a document called World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, which stated, “No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.”
Despite the urgency of the plea, the international community has failed to respond adequately. Humans have reached, or perhaps exceeded critical tipping points in disrupting some of Earth’s great cycles (carbon, nitrogen, water) and have torn at ecosystem and species diversity that are the key to cleansing and replenishing the atmosphere, water and soil.
In all the political posturing and lobbying by corporations, there is simply no comprehension of what the real crisis is: We humans have become so numerous and technologically powerful, so impatiently demanding and servile to a destructive global economy built on a corporate agenda, that we are undermining the life support systems of Earth.”