Twenty years ago I was 13 when the first Earth Summit took place in Rio. As a child who is a part of the generation that has grown up entirely under dire environmental threat, I can tell you that I was paying attention and hopeful at the summit’s outcomes.
Present system crisis, both environmental and economical, matches with the reference scenario outlined in the 1972 book “The Limits to Growth”, by a group of researchers of the MIT. Climate change, natural disasters, wars, natural resources reduction, economic and financial crisis, democracy and political, systems crisis, poverty, hunger and famines, over population… While these crisis are acknowledged by almost everybody there is a tendency to consider them separately. The Limits to Growth team’s approach, in 1972 and in 2012, shows that all these crisis are different parts of a single big problem… The documentary “Last Call” shows the urgency to listen to this message of warning, in order to pursue a new model of equity and sustainability, before it’s too late.
Countries will be asked this summer to sign up for 10 new sustainable development goals for the planet and promise to build green economies at the first earth summit in 20 years.
According to a leak of the draft agenda document seen by the Guardian, they will also be asked to negotiate a new agreement to protect oceans, approve an annual state of the planet report, set up a major world agency for the environment, and appoint a global “ombudsperson”, or high commissioner, for future generations. Dozens of heads of state, political leaders and celebrities are expected to go to the UN’s Rio+20 sustainable development meeting, to be held in Brazil in June.
Unlike the 1992 earth summit when over 190 heads of state set in motion several legally binding environment agreements, leaders this time will not be asked to sign any document that would legally commit their countries to meeting any particular targets or timetables. Instead, they will be asked to set their own targets and work voluntarily towards establishing a global green economy which the UN believes will reduce poverty and slow consumption.
Dr. William Rees is a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia and former director of the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP). He is the originator of the “ecological footprint” concept and co-developer of the method… We ask Bill about the reasons we’re in denial and how we could start adapting to our ecological challenges through a new cultural narrative.
Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that’s equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.
Paul is an independent writer, activist, and adviser on a sustainable economy.
You can read more about his work and ideas hereand here.
"It is hard for people to see that the assumptions, patterns of behavior, and structures that led up to both the environmental and economic crises are not the same ones that will support us in addressing these two important areas for change. We cannot continue to do what we have always done and expect different results. We need new thinking; new ways of living and working; new social, organizational, and economic structures to move us toward a sustainable future. To overcome this “allergy” to global warming and immunity to change, we need to raise the levels of awareness, talk about the need to change, and bring our big assumptions into conversations that can stimulate new action."
"The inevitable conclusion is that the issue of sustainability will eventually reach and even dominate the American political agenda. It will not be defined by a smaller economy, but a different sort of economy: With more resources devoted to preserving the planet and its productive capacity. There is a paradigm shift underway toward a sustainable, renewable economy. You see it in many cities, communities and in a growing number of corporations. Support for sustainability is more common among young people than old people, and it is as much a cultural and social mindset as it is a political motivation. In fact, at this point, the political force of sustainability is latent rather than manifest. But it is coming. At its core will be a new form of consumerism and new modes of production. Production will be more efficient and renewable. Consumers will resist goods and services that are not sustainable. Our political and regulatory institutions will both lead and follow these new realities. Unfortunately, this will not happen during the presidential election year about to start. But it is in our future."
The final paragraph of Steven Cohen’s current article in the Huffington Post, ‘Sustainability, Politics, and Consumerism’. Cohen is the executive director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City.