Monday, July 09, 2012

rio revisited

I was not in Rio for the original Earth Summit in 1992.  Neither was I invited to Rio+20.  In fact, the closest I got to Rio was writing a chapter on Rio as a one of the gateways for my Tourism text Gateways to Discovery being released this fall -- so I was thinking about Rio but not one of the 50,000 delegates in attendance.  Funny, after a lifetime career in the field of resource management and sustainability, I don't make the top 50,000 to receive an all expenses trip paid by somebody else but after 6 years of blogging I make the world's top 250 climate skeptics: oh, the vagaries of fame and fortune.

Sidebar: best line of the year from the movie Contagion. 
Character 1: "you're not a writer!" 
Character 2: "I am . I blog". 
#1: "Blogging is not writing: its graffiti with punctuation."

Anyways, back to my musing on Rio and now Rio+20.  I was pondering what to say when I read this excellent summation by Peter Foster:
  • The failure of Rio does not mean disregard for “The Environment.” Environmental protection is a branch of human protection. The environment has no value except for what it means to humans. The outrage that this observation will promote serves to prove the point. The environment can no more value itself than it can express outrage. Human development inevitably involves disturbance of land and potential pollution of air and water. The issue is never people versus the environment. It is the interests of some people vs. the interests of others. The question is one of balance, and that pollution should not be suffered without compensation. A bigger question is one of entirely bogus eco scares being manufactured as a rationale for payoffs to the very kleptocrats who are responsible for global poverty.
  •  The Rio+20 text was originally sold as promoting “The Future We Want.” However, the “We” in question was always a self-selected group of UN bureaucrats, alarmist NGOs, corporate rent-seekers and main chancers whose interests were sharply at odds with those of ordinary people. Rio+20’s failure should be celebrated as The Future We Avoided.
Good stuff. Accurate, pithy and just a little acerbic.

I was going to add some more of my own commentary when I read this by Ben Pile:
  • A lot is expected of ‘science’. However, the failure of Rio+20, like the failure of many global conferences to produce agreements, such as the meetings at Durban, Cancun and Copenhagen, reveals once again that the real function of ‘science’ is a fig leaf for their delegates’ bad faith. 
  • Rio+20 was the ideal marketplace for such bland pieties. It’s not as if economic growth, short- or long-term, is a problem the UK enjoys. Politicians and ‘thinkers’ who lack the ideas necessary to produce positive change – growth – turn the concept of growth into the enemy. The anti-growth lobby congeals at events such as Rio, where there’s ample opportunity to swap ideas about how to turn their own mediocrity into a worldwide political project under the pretence of ‘saving the planet’. In reality, the desire for powerful global political institutions owes much more to politicians’ own domestic crises of legitimacy than it does to any real threat to the world’s rivers, trees and oceans.
  •  By winning whatever passes for the hearts and minds of the political establishment, environmentalism has been installed throughout political institutions without ever having won a democratic contest of its ideals. Such is the extent of this insidious colonisation that any public debate about the future, especially of energy policies, is already prefigured according to environmental precepts.
  •  This assumption that the masses are suffering from consumption addiction allows world leaders to step in and make the big decisions about the future on our behalf. Yet conferences like Rio+20 are not about protecting us plebs; these shindigs are really about protecting the elites.
  •  NGOs are only too happy to help. As I have argued previously on spiked, environmentalism has comprehensively failed to establish itself as a popular movement. Instead, environmental NGOs – a pale imitation of mass movements – were given access to political institutions to overcome the disconnect between political elites and the public. As ‘pressure groups’, they pretended to be holding governments to account, but by raising the issues the government wanted to identify with, NGOs were actually doing governments’ bidding.
  •  This supranational institution-building needs its own legitimising basis: environmental crisis. And this is where the science is recruited. Scientific organisations all over the world plan for years to produce the most ghastly predictions from measurements of our relationship with the natural world.
Thank you Ben.

The context within which both Rio and Rio+20 should be viewed is a wider worldview which recognizes the role contemporary environmentalism now plays within politics.  It is the de facto moral agenda for political poverty. The science does not require nor compel the subjugation of the human race by elites.  There are no limits that are not ideologically created by the self-serving political elites seeking to impose them on humanity. The world has spent 2000 years finally learning how to take the majority out of the default condition of human existence: poverty.  The methodology is political freedom, followed by economic freedom, followed by the opportunity for entrepreneurship and technological advancement.  Given choice and opportunity, the vast majority of the human race has proven they will choose advancement and with that advancement, both a compassion for the rest of the human race and an increased concern for the health of their environment.  In human history, no authoritarian, centralized elite or government has ever succeeded in doing the same.

About the only other thing history has proven as totally unnecessary? Global gabfests in exotic locations at tax payers expense by phony-baloney hacks.