The number of people in the United States who deny that human behaviour has any effect on climate change has grown alarmingly in the past two years. It shows what money, vested interests and false advertising can do! Awareness of climate change keeps on growing in the rest of the world.
“We’re facing a planetary emergency” says Owen Gaffney of International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
The frequent news reports with pictures of people whose lives are torn apart make it hard to avoid the reality. Deadly and violent weather – floods, earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, hurricanes and the sinister rising of sea levels force us to take the warnings seriously, rather than dismiss or play them down as in the recent past.
Elimar Pinheiro do Nascimento, director of the University of Brasilia Sustainable Development Centre, states: “Democratic regimes don’t appear to be capable of adequately addressing the issue of climate change, because of the short-term political dynamic, since environmental problems take decades to solve. Democracy is about freedom, and protecting the environment is about survival.”
Our democratically elected governments cannot see beyond their own noses, or not beyond the next time they must face their electors. So where does that leave us?
In financial crises, specialist economists shape the decisions that governments make. Central banks can adopt often unpopular monetary measures, even despite pressure from national governments. But in this deeper crisis which threatens the future of our entire planet, we don’t see environmentalists and climate experts called in to advise on what action should be taken.
If we are to have a future we will need statespersons, not bureaucrats. But dare we hope for leaders to emerge who are able to withstand the pressure from corporate driven political decisions, to ensure our survival?
We must find new mechanisms to create policies with a long-term focus to solve our environmental problems.
Prior to Rio+20, the world’s scientific community will give a comprehensive “state of the planet” assessment at the “Planet Under Pressure” conference in London Mar. 26-29. Nearly 3,000 experts from around the world will provide a report card on the health and threats to the Earth and make recommendations on what must be done to avoid disaster.
One of the first things a maturing human community must do is solve its international governance problems. Thirty leading experts on international governance are unanimous regarding the failure of the current United Nations approach of one country, one vote and the requirement of consensus before taking action or making significant decisions. ”One country can hold the entire world hostage.”
The Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer is considered the world’s most successful environmental treaty. It doesn’t use the traditional U.N. system. Decisions are made only when the majority of both the industrialised and developing nations agree. The U.N. climate negotiations need such a decision making process.
Maurice Strong who led the Rio 1992 Earth Summit had this to say: “We must rise above the lesser concerns that preempt our attention and respond to the reality that the future of human life on Earth depends on what we do, or fail to do in this generation. What we have come to accept as normal is not normal…
We must deal with this as the most dangerous security issue humanity has ever faced, with the very conditions necessary to life on Earth at risk.
Rio+20 will require a degree of cooperation beyond anything we have yet experienced at a time when competition and conflict over scare resources is escalating….The decisions and policies which determine our impacts on sustainability are primarily motivated by economic and financial considerations. The importance of the actions to be taken at Rio + 20 requires that they be firmly rooted in our deepest moral and ethical principles. – UN General Assembly Rio +20 Event, New York, October 25th, 2011.
The world has seen major changes since 1992. Today more and more people think of themselves as ‘global or planetary citizens’. With knowledge comes responsibility. Remember, there is a voice that is stronger than the power of money or the force of corporations! That is the voice of truth and moral decency.
Rio + 20 will need all the prayer and our best efforts if it is to succeed in avoiding disaster for the earth and all who call the Earth “home”.
It’s time to speak up and let our governments know what we expect of them to prevent the threat of global disaster. Tell them not to play politics in Rio. Tell them to remember that we have only one planet and we are all involved! It’s time for us to speak up!
Passionists International hopes to have a significant presence in Rio.
Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
Kevin Dance, C.P.