Rio+20 summit, rhetoric, religion and deaf ears

There are 64 sources listed on the Google News online page today relating to the environment and the imminent staging in five weeks time of the Rio+20 summit. I read the Guardian article which starts like this:

Twenty years on from the Rio Earth summit, the environment of the planet is getting worse not better, according to a report from WWF.

Swelling population, mass migration to cities, increasing energy use and soaring carbon dioxide emissions mean humanity is putting a greater squeeze on the planet’s resources than ever before. Particularly hard hit is the diversity of animals and plants, upon which many natural resources such as clean water are based.

Here are some headlines from the other 63 sources:

Global biodiversity down 30% in 40 years

Earth in Crisis as wildlife numbers plummet

Report calls for action at Rio to reverse biodiversity free fall

Another Earth needed to meet human demands for natural resources

WWF: Over-consumption threatens planet

The world is not enough: soon we’ll need three earth planet Earths

Global and regional urgency to tackle climate change

China’s hidden waterways – a canal outside Beijing

The list goes on and we have heard and read it all before. The only change is upwards and the different names of species dying. Koalas extinct in 50 years; tiger and tuna decline sounds global alarm. Urban pollution is unmanageable in many areas. Pollution of ground water is on the rise.

I note that my home country has risen by one point to become the seventh–worst polluter on Earth. What a terrible statistic and in such a fragile ancient land. Australia certainly has had the highest ecological footprint per capita for some years now – it appears to be getting worse. The population growth in Australia is only just on the wane from the past 6 years. What is going on? Economic growth isn’t the sole reason.

The sun is good though.

It is very hard not to be depressed by this as I am also contributing to over-consumption on this planet as an inhabitant living in a  developed nation. Meanwhile, as a species, we keep breeding, all the while chasing a healthy longevity. It just isn’t sustainable.  I used to think, and still do really, that education, the free supply of contraception worldwide and open, free access to family planning clinics would curtail our global population and highlight the damage we are doing to our planet. We have needed to do something for so long that now we appear to be numb to the consequences of our behaviour. This article from January 2006 is as true to day as it was 30 years ago. Then, two years later there was another article this time relating more closely to the UK.

I see now that that process will take too long. The staggering rise in global population since we have learnt to use antibiotics reducing infant mortality and increasing longevity will always outstrip the slower educative process in teaching people to understand and training them to understand the disaster we are facing. It seems to be difficult for people to step outside their own comfort zone

It seems to me that contraception on a global scale is the best option we have available at this stage. Contraception has come a long way since the condom and the even the pill. Now, subcutaneous implants with an efficacy period of up to five years are available. I saw a TV programme where women in Rwanda were tackling the problem head on. What is going on there is a small ray of hope. I fear it won’t be anywhere near enough to inspire other African countries where poverty is rampant and natural population controls diminish with medical technology. The competition for scarce resources may propel population control forward as it is doing in Rwanda but it’s no guarantee.

Rwandan kiddies. At least they are happy.

Add to that the irresponsible teachings of religion on sex and sexual ethics with the rise of HIV and the future situation worsens. I listen to the Pope pontificating about sexual abstinence and I nearly fly off the handle. The man is a fool and very dangerous. He constantly sidesteps the contraception issue and the problem of HIV. At least the Italians have enough sense to ignore him and keep their annual population growth rate to 0.42% in 2011 according to the CIA and down from 0.65% in the World Bank figures for 2009.

It isn’t that far off before we really do run out of arable land, water availability and other resources. I feel so very sad for my grandchildren and their prospects.  It is worth remembering David Suzuki’s daughter Severn addressing the summit in Brazil in 1992. That was the Rio Earth Summit minus the +20 that it is today.

I know all the experts try to keep their chin up but even the optimistic David Attenborough looks grim when he talks about population, resources and habitat loss.

And it makes me feel more grim as well.


2 comments on “Rio+20 summit, rhetoric, religion and deaf ears

  1. Rosie says:

    You have just put together a whole bundle of my thoughts, worries and wonderings about the crisis in sustaining our planet with its peoples, plants and creatures including pets, with its lifestyle and increasing consumption of everything. Thanks, and I might just use it to create some ‘found poetry’ for the next gathering of Kinwriters – if I may?

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