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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 07:52 PM

Monbiot - After Rio, Now We Know - Governments Have Given Up On The Planet

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.)

EDIT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/25/rio-governments-will-not-save-planet

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Reply Monbiot - After Rio, Now We Know - Governments Have Given Up On The Planet (Original post)
hatrack Jun 2012 OP
kestrel91316 Jun 2012 #1
RobertEarl Jun 2012 #12
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #2
joshcryer Jun 2012 #5
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #3
joshcryer Jun 2012 #4
Nihil Jun 2012 #7
joshcryer Jun 2012 #8
Nihil Jun 2012 #6
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #9
The2ndWheel Jun 2012 #10
RobertEarl Jun 2012 #11

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 08:22 PM

1. If they have given up, that means civilization has no future. And if that's the case, I for one

would greatly appreciate it if they would repeal useless laws like those against cannabis, and consensual sex, and gay marriage, etc etc etc. So what if gay marriage destroys heterosexual marriage if there will be no humans to get married soon?

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 11:26 PM

12. Good point

They allow coal burnings into the air. Our water to be polluted. Nuclear radiation "at set limits".

... the bombs bursting in air, while all thru the night our pot laws are still there!

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 10:53 PM

2. In order to "give up" they'd need to be on the planet's side to begin with.

They have not given up, they never intended to save the planet in the first place. Their intention has always been to monetize it. If that leaves the little people choking in the smoke and flames, and drowning in rising, acid oceans - well, it's nothing personal, just the cost of doing business...

TK was right, you know.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:31 PM

5. +1, exactly. And the enablers? Those saying that solutions were capitalistic / profitable.

No, the solutions are not capitalistic or profitable. It requires sacrifice and compassion. That simply isn't in line with capitalist destruction of the planet.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:06 PM

3. Was it too much to have asked?

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?

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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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:30 PM

4. Geoengineering will save us!

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 04:50 AM

7. Not even in jest Josh ...

... certainly not in this already depressing thread and especially as it is
obvious that this is exactly what is planned for the next phase of
"asset-stripping".

What is it about the corporations & politicians?

Can they genuinely not understand the issues involved and so have to
fall back to the security blanket of a spreadsheet showing their personal
income projections?

Do they have no concept of the suffering that they are causing now
and that they will most certainly cause in the future?

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Response to Nihil (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 05:46 AM

8. Oh, no jest intended. The capitalists have already figured it out.

They have no intention of leaving the fossil fuels in the ground. Geoengineering is what they think will solve the problem that they have created.

Generally speaking, renewable energy will only come online to a significant extent as we require it, maybe a tiny bit before. We might leave a bit of fossil fuels in the ground. But not much. I expect we won't leave any but the hardest to exploit fuels.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 04:45 AM

6. One of his best pieces

> 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 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.


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Response to Nihil (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 06:40 AM

9. I have to agree.

It's sad that it takes something as final as his realization of the defeat of humanity to bring out his best writing.

When a tireless fighter like Monbiot gives up, it's a pretty sure sign that the game is over.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 09:34 AM

10. Governments are as much part of the machine as anything

This machine has thousands upon thousands of years of history, complexity, and momentum behind it.

Governments need the same growth corporations do, which is the same growth that people need, which fits nicely together, since people make up governments and corporations.

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 11:23 PM

11. Say What?

The PTB will not stop what it is doing. Really, we've known this for years. All actions to get them to stop killing the planet's life have been pissing in the wind. And i am just now drying out.

Since they seem to be throwing common sense right out the window, it makes me wonder if they know the gig is up and they are just going to grab all they can while they can in order for them and theirs to survive.

I gotta get a new set of friends.........

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