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Mon Dec 31, 2012, 04:29 PM

2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world


2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world

Emissions are rising, ice is melting and yet the response of governments is simply to pretend that none of it is happening

George Monbiot
The Guardian, Monday 31 December 2012 13.30 EST

It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.

Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic's sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna such as rhinos and bluefin tuna were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening.

Their indifference was distilled into a great collective shrug at the Earth Summit in June. The first summit, 20 years before, was supposed to have heralded a new age of environmental responsibility. During that time, thanks largely to the empowerment of corporations and the ultra-rich, the square root of nothing has been achieved. Far from mobilising to address this, in 2012 the leaders of some of the world's most powerful governments the US, the UK, Germany and Russia didn't even bother to turn up.

But they did send their representatives to sabotage it. The Obama administration even sought to reverse commitments made by George Bush Sr in 1992. The final declaration was a parody of inaction. While the 190 countries that signed it expressed "deep concern" about the world's escalating crises, they agreed no new targets, dates or commitments, with one exception. Sixteen times they committed themselves to "sustained growth", a term they used interchangeably with its polar opposite, "sustainability".

More:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/31/year-abandon-natural-world

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