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Rio-20 Summit


John Dolva
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Havana. June 22, 2012

Cuba aspires to good sense and human intelligence prevailing over irrationality and barbarity

Speech given by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers at the Rio-20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, June 21, 2012, Year 54 of the Revolution

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MR. President;

Your Excellencies:

Twenty years ago, on June 12, 1992, in this same conference hall, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz stated, and I quote, “An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: humanity.” End of quote.

What could have been considered alarmist, today constitutes an irrefutable reality. The inability to transform unsustainable models of production and consumption is threatening the balance and regeneration of natural mechanisms which sustain life forms on the planet.

The effects cannot be hidden. Species are becoming extinct at a speed one hundred times faster than those indicated in fossil records; more than five million hectares of forests are lost every year; and close to 60% of ecosystems are degraded.

In spite of the landmark signified by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 38% from 1990 to 2009. We are now moving toward a global increase in temperature which will place at risk, in the first place, the integrity and physical existence of numerous developing island states and will produce serious consequences in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

A profound and detailed study undertaken during the last five years by our scientific institutions is in basic agreement with reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and confirms that, during this century, if current trends are maintained, a gradual and considerable rise in average sea levels will take place in the Cuban archipelago. This forecast includes the intensification of extreme meteorological events, such as tropical hurricanes, and an increase in the salinity of underground water sources. All of this will have serious consequences, especially for our coastal areas, so we have initiated the adoption of appropriate measures.

Equally, this phenomenon will have serious geographic, demographic and economic implications for the Caribbean islands which, moreover, must confront the inequalities of an international economic system which excludes the smallest and most vulnerable.

The paralysis of negotiations and the lack of an agreement which could make it possible to halt global climate change are a clear reflection of a lack of political will and the inability of developed countries to act in accordance with obligations concomitant with their historical responsibility and current position. This has been demonstrated in this meeting, despite the extraordinary effort made by Brazil, for which we are grateful.

Poverty is increasing, hunger and malnutrition are growing and inequality is expanding, aggravated in recent decades as a consequence of neoliberalism.

During these 20 years, wars of a new kind have been launched, focused on the conquest of energy resources, as was the case in 2003, on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction which never existed, and the recent war in North Africa. Acts of aggression against Middle Eastern countries which can now be discerned will be compounded by others, with the objective of controlling access to water and other resources in the process of being exhausted. It must be made clear that attempting a new division of the world will unleash a spiral of conflicts of incalculable consequences for a planet already seriously insecure, and moreover, sick.

In the last two decades, military spending has grown to the astronomical sum of $1.74 trillion, almost double that of 1992, which is leading to an arms race in other states which feel threatened. Two decades after the end of the Cold War, against who will these arms be used?

Let us stop the justifications and egoisms and seek solutions. This time, everyone, absolutely everyone, will pay for the consequences of climate change. Governments of industrialized countries which are acting in this manner should not commit the serious error of believing that they can survive a little longer at our cost. The waves of millions of hungry and desperate people from the South toward the North will be uncontainable, as will the rebellion of the peoples in the face of such indolence and injustice. No hegemonism will be possible then. End the plunder, end war, let us advance toward disarmament and destroy the nuclear arsenals.

We are required to make a transcendental change. The only alternative is to build more just societies; to establish a more equitable international order based on respect for the rights of all; to ensure the sustainable development of nations, especially those of the South; and place advances in science and technology at the service of the salvation of the planet and human dignity.

Cuba aspires to good sense and human intelligence prevailing over irrationality and barbarity.

Thank you very much (Applause).

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It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth's living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit in Rio last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue "sustained growth", the primary cause of the biosphere's losses.

The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.

The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront. We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.

We have used our unprecedented freedoms – secured at such cost by our forebears – not to agitate for justice, for redistribution, for the defence of our common interests, but to pursue the dopamine hits triggered by the purchase of products we do not need. The world's most inventive minds are deployed not to improve the lot of humankind but to devise ever more effective means of stimulation, to counteract the diminishing satisfactions of consumption. The mutual dependencies of consumer capitalism ensure that we all unwittingly conspire in the trashing of what may be the only living planet. The failure at Rio de Janeiro belongs to us all.

It marks, more or less, the end of the multilateral effort to protect the biosphere. The only successful global instrument – the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer – was agreed and implemented years before the first Earth Summit in 1992. It was one of the last fruits of a different political era, in which intervention in the market for the sake of the greater good was not considered anathema, even by the Thatcher and Reagan governments. Everything of value discussed since then has led to weak, unenforceable agreements, or to no agreements at all.

This is not to suggest that the global system and its increasingly pointless annual meetings will disappear, or even change. The governments which allowed the Earth Summit and all such meetings to fail evince no sense of responsibility for this outcome, and appear untroubled by the thought that if a system hasn't worked for 20 years, there's something wrong with the system. They walk away, aware that there are no political penalties; that the media is as absorbed with consumerist trivia as the rest of us; that, when future generations have to struggle with the mess they have left behind, their contribution will have been forgotten. (And then they lecture the rest of us on responsibility.)

Nor is it to suggest that multilateralism should be abandoned. Agreements on biodiversity, the oceans and the trade in endangered species may achieve some marginal mitigation of the full-spectrum assault on the biosphere that the consumption machine has unleashed. But that's about it.

The action – if action there is – will mostly be elsewhere. Those governments which retain an interest in planet Earth will have to work alone, or in agreement with like-minded nations. There will be no means of restraining free riders, no means of persuading voters that their actions will be matched by those of other countries.

That we have missed the chance of preventing two degrees of global warming now seems obvious. That most of the other planetary boundaries will be crossed, equally so. So what do we do now?

Some people will respond by giving up, or at least withdrawing from political action. Why, they will ask, should we bother, if the inevitable destination is the loss of so much of what we hold dear: the forests, the brooks, the wetlands, the coral reefs, the sea ice, the glaciers, the birdsong and the night chorus, the soft and steady climate which has treated us kindly for so long? It seems to me that there are at least three reasons.

The first is to draw out the losses over as long a period as possible, in order to allow our children and grandchildren to experience something of the wonder and delight in the natural world and of the peaceful, unharried lives with which we have been blessed. Is that not a worthy aim, even if there were no other?

The second is to preserve what we can in the hope that conditions might change. I do not believe that the planet-eating machine, maintained by an army of mechanics, oiled by constant injections of public money, will collapse before the living systems on which it feeds. But I might be wrong. Would it not be a terrible waste to allow the tiger, the rhinoceros, the bluefin tuna, the queen's executioner beetle and the scabious cuckoo bee, the hotlips fungus and the fountain anenome to disappear without a fight if this period of intense exploitation turns out to be a brief one?

The third is that, while we may have no influence over decisions made elsewhere, there is plenty that can be done within our own borders. Rewilding – the mass restoration of ecosystems – offers the best hope we have of creating refuges for the natural world, which is why I've decided to spend much of the next few years promoting it here and abroad.

Giving up on global agreements or, more accurately, on the prospect that they will substantially alter our relationship with the natural world, is almost a relief. It means walking away from decades of anger and frustration. It means turning away from a place in which we have no agency to one in which we have, at least, a chance of being heard. But it also invokes a great sadness, as it means giving up on so much else.

Was it too much to have asked of the world's governments, which performed such miracles in developing stealth bombers and drone warfare, global markets and trillion-dollar bailouts, that they might spend a tenth of the energy and resources they devoted to these projects on defending our living planet? It seems, sadly, that it was.

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Yes, and what exactly he's fiddling with. The people who prefer to put the fire out?

Anyway, It (imo) ties in with :

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=17765&st=90#entry255431

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Rio+20: Disappointing

Joaquín Rivery Tur

CRITICISM of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, have rained down from the moment that the draft version was known until the definitive document was signed.

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and UN

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said,

"Let me be frank: our efforts have not

lived up to the measure of the challenge,"

(…) "Nature does not negotiate with

human beings."

Evo-Morales-28.jpg

Evo Morales recalled the message of the leader

of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, to

the Earth Summit in Brazil 20 years ago,

"End hunger and not humanity…

Pay the ecological debt, not the external debt."

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Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa emphasized

that a document of principles was approved,

which anyone could sign, but asked,

"Where are the concrete commitments?"

Barack Obama did not even attend the event; neither did Angel Merkel, David Cameron and other European leaders in general.

However, there were other voices with more prestige and more forceful arguments than the absentees.

Bolivian President Evo Morales recalled at the Conference the message of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, to the Earth Summit in Brazil 20 years ago.

"End hunger and not humanity… Pay the ecological debt, not the external debt," affirmed Morales, recalling Fidel’s words and noting in reference to these recommendations that, at this stage, the capitalist debt is unpayable.

The Bolivian leader attacked the so called green economy proclaimed by developed nations, calling it a new mechanism for subjecting the peoples and anti-capitalist governments, and noted that capitalism promotes privatizations, the mercantilism of biodiversity and the genetic resources business.

The green economy is making nature a merchandise and converting every tree, every drop of water and all natural beings into a merchandise, subjecting them to the dictatorship of the market, which is privatizing wealth and socializing poverty, he added. In his speech, Morales criticized environmentalism as an imperial strategy which quantifies every river, lake, plant and natural product and translates them into money and business profit, temporally safeguarding them for their future private appropriation.

"Capitalism is no solution at all, if we wish to pass into history we must establish economic, ecological and social policies directed at saving life and humanity, and re-launch ourselves toward humanity," Morales concluded.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa stated that the rich countries bear the most responsibility for environmental degradation on the planet.

He stated that Ecuador had aspired to a document that would enshrine the rights of nature, in order to save it, "now that financial rescues are in fashion."

In an interview with the Telesur network, Correa emphasized that while there is no change in the relations of power, there will no agreement to reduce net emissions into the atmosphere or to declare the universal rights of nature, as Ecuador proposed.

It would be difficult to reach a spontaneous and genuine commitment because the rich countries are consuming the environment of the poor nations, he noted.

Referring to the "green economy", Correa said that the concept, as managed by the developed countries, is an attempt to incorporate environmental assets into calculations of the gross domestic product, under the pretext of reducing contamination. In order to lower pollution levels, he commented, one has to change the notion of development based on materialism, accumulation, and consumerism into another, which would allow for sustaining the planet, such as the concept of development in harmony with nature, as advocated by indigenous populations.

"How can one understand multimillion bank rescues and not multimillion environmental rescues?" he asked.

Thanking the Brazilian government for its political will in organizing the summits, Correa observed that they have little value; however, "the problem is not a technical one, but a political one." For the Ecuadorian President, changes in the relations of power must be brought about by citizens of First World countries who are exploited by the system.

He observed that anyone can sign a document of principles, but asked, "Where are the concrete commitments, where are the emission limits, compensation for contamination, new international agreements, new binding concepts of compensation for net emissions avoided?"

For the Ecuadorian President, the four cardinal points are: "A change in the economic system; in the social context of poverty, inequality is incompatible with conservation; in the environmental context, the rights of nature itself and changing our vision of nature. And the fourth, the cultural dimension."

Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated: "Let me be frank: our efforts have not lived up to the measure of the challenge," (…) "Nature does not negotiate with human beings."

The Rio Summit on Sustainable Development document is "disappointing" given that, 20 years after the Earth Summit, the most pessimistic trends noted in 1992 have become a reality.

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Rio+20 Breaking News: Activists who spoke at the Peoples’ Summit killed

Cross-Posted from Front Line Defenders, June 28th, 2012

See Action Alert in Next Blog Post

mr_joao_luiz_telles_penetra_june_27.jpgJoão Luiz Telles Penetra. Photo courtesy Front Line Defenders

.

EJOLT partner Professor Marcelo Firpo has just send us a sad message:“I was with two fishermen on 19 June in a meeting at Peoples´Summit discussing the impacts of big projects (basically oil, mining and steel) in Rio de Janeiro State. Three days later they disappeared when went to work. They have just been found dead. The media is considering this case without importance and we will need more national and international pressure in order to protect other people and to investigate who have killed them.”

.

On 24 and 25 June 2012 the bodies of human rights defenders Mr Almir Nogueira de Amorim and Mr João Luiz Telles Penetra were found following their disappearance on 23 June 2012.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, or “Pituca” as he was known, were both leaders of the Associação Homens do Mar – AHOMAR (Association of Sea Men) which was set up in 2009 to defend the rights of the fisher-folk working in Rio de Janeiro, and particularly those affected by the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras. Since the founding of the organisation its members have reported being subjected to death threats, physical attacks and killings. According to AHOMAR’s members, the attacks are perpetrated by people linked to death squads, security guards hired by the companies in charge of building pipelines and militias operating in the region.

On the afternoon of 25 June 2012, João Luiz Telles Penetra’s body was found on the banks of Guanabara Bay by employees of a shipyard. The fisherman’s corpse was bound at his hands and feet by rope. The previous day, at around midday, the body of Almir Nogueira de Amorim was found tied to his boat. He had bruises on his neck and the boat had several holes in the hull.

On 22 June 2012, at approximately 4:00pm, Almir Nogueira de Amorim went to João Luiz Telles Penetra’s home in Ilha de Paquetá, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, to collect him to go fishing. It is common practice for fishermen in the region to go at that time and return late at night or early the following day. When they had not returned by the following day, local fishermen and fire fighters began a search of the Guanabara Bay.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim was a founding member and vocal activist of AHOMAR. João Luiz Telles Penetra was the leader of the association in Ilha de Paquetá and had been a key figure in a new campaign launched by the organisation. He led the struggle against Petrobras’ construction plans in Guaxindiba river, located within the Área de Proteção Ambiental Guapimirim (Environmental Protected Area of Guapimirim). The oil company wants to deepen the river to create a waterway, which would eliminate any possibility of fishing in these waters.

Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra are not the first members of AHOMAR to be murdered. On 19 January 2010, fisherman and human rights defender Marcio Amaro was assassinated one day after a demonstration organised by AHOMAR took place in front of the Petrobras headquarters in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Prior to his killing Marcio Amaro had filed a formal complaint concerning the presence of unlawfully armed men in Petrobras construction sites in Guanabara Bay. On 22 May 2009 Paulo César dos Santos Souza, former treasurer of the association, was killed in front of his wife and children after being shot in the head five times. The crime occurred six hours after a government inspection decided to stop the pipeline construction due to irregularities. To date no one has been brought to justice for these killings.

The president of AHOMAR Mr Alexandre Anderson de Souza, has been under the National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders for the past three years. However he, and his family, still face many risks. Reportedly at least three other leaders of AHOMAR received death threats in recent months. Even with the high rate of violence in the region of Mauá and all the threats faced by human rights defenders, the only police station covering the region was shut down on 13 February 2012.

Front Line Defenders believes the murder of Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra is directly related to their human rights activities, in particular their work to defend the rights of the fisherfolk in Rio de Janeiro, and is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of their family members and other members of the association.

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http://climate-connections.org/2012/06/29/rio20-breaking-news-activists-who-spoke-at-the-peoples-summit-killed/

Corporations are KINGDOMS ,speak out against the King and you will pay.

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Edited by Steven Gaal
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What's the cost of highlighting Mining practices around the world? Mongolia is interesting to look at as its modern history is fairly recent and therefore documented.

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The Disappearing Rainforests

  • We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
  • One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second with tragic consequences for both developing and industrial countries.
  • Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land is perceived as only the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies, and land owners.
  • Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation.
  • Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
  • Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations, even by world giants like Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal.
  • There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
  • In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.
  • Most medicine men and shamans remaining in the Rainforests today are 70 years old or more. Each time a rainforest medicine man dies, it is as if a library has burned down.
  • When a medicine man dies without passing his arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants.

Source:

http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm

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