Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rio Minus 20

It is against the background of repeated failures in almost every aspect of the environment that the Rio+20 conference took place. The messages of gloom and doom have never been clearer. The planet has never been under such massive pressure. Humanity faces its biggest threat with climate change. It is urgent to reduce global warming by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, but since 1990 emissions have increased by almost 40 per cent. A report by the UN and over a thousand leading scientists showed that as much as two thirds of the world's ecosystems services - on which we are directly dependent for our survival - are threatened or in serious decline. In just 15 years global demand for natural resources has doubled. By 2030, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy, and 30 per cent more water. It may not be the end of the world but may well be the end of society as we know it. The soil is being degraded, the water supply depleted, the air polluted, the minerals and ores exhausted. We're not behaving sustainably. We're using our resources faster than the earth can provide them.

The lack of political will shown by the world’s governments to address environmental degradation is obvious to all. What governments do seem to agree on is the need for each country to interpret the concept of a green economy according to national priorities that leaves it up to each country to define what is meant by a green economy. Discussions have so far been focused on the pricing of eco-system services, the new financial markets to be developed and opened up. But the the destruction of ecosystems and the capitalist exchange economy are inseparable parts of the same problem. The capitalist system depends upon growth and accumulation to sustain itself.

 An ecological sound socialism is the necessary transformation to an environmentally sustainable economy. In order to avoid catastrophic and irreversible environmental destruction, world socialism will establish global sustainability strategies, based on science. The principles for sustainable development will be  translated into practice. The world has never needed socialism as much as today. When crises occcur, we come together very effectively and very quickly. During a war, during natural disasters, the best is often brought out in people. We survive and flourish because we look after each other. The bigger the crisis, the better we behave (although it is not always universal, of course.) It is surprisingly easy and fast how we could achieve real change. We could cut climate emissions 50 percent in the first five years and eliminate them on a net basis within 20 yrs, according to some studies. We can dramatically transform our production methods with existing proven technology. The only thing we really need to change is how we think. We need to recognise that spending more time helping each other, more time learning, more time involved in community are the behaviors that actually bring a better quality of life.

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