September 5, 2002

Johannesburg Summit on the Environment

Environmentalists Leave Disappointed

Leaders of Johannesburg summit
The United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, took place from August 26-September 4, 2002 — and the result is grim.

The goal of the Summit was sustainable development, rather than protection of the environment, yet development can only be sustainable if the environment is sustainable.

Ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the only "progress" in saving the environment has been almost exclusively in the areas of agreements and planning. Optimistic goals for actually reversing global warming, species extinction, and the wasting of natural resources were undercut and made meaningless by the Bush administration's refusal to participate.

The fact remains that the earth may be entering its first major extinction phase since the dinosaur age. Fisheries are overfished, forests have shrunken, and rare habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate. Fossil fuel emissions have grown worldwide, especially in the U.S., and as global warming continues there is more extreme weather.

Environmentalists feel a sense of urgency, saying the window of opportunity for solving these global problems is closing fast. Yet, the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, made clear in pre-Summit meetings that it would not sign any new agreements, and in fact would prefer to overturn many of those reached at Rio.

Rather than leading the way, the Bush administration is perceived by critics to be isolationist and out of step with world concerns. With the U.S. committing no new resources, entering into no new agreements, and providing no leadership, the chances of reversing the damage humans have done to the earth, barring a miracle, are small.

See Drunvalo's editorial.

For a more complete report, with extensive research and references, please see Bush Administration Downplays Need for Rio-Plus-Ten Global Summit.

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