Rio is on again. From June 20-22 there is yet another big cheese gabfest meant to save the planet. The Rio+20 is the fourth “Earth Summit” – the first of which took place in 1992. Rio+20 is the abbreviated name of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
A UN website describes this as follows: “At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet.
“The official discussions will focus on two main themes: how to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty; and how to improve international coordination for sustainable development. It is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a sustainable future – a future with more jobs, more clean energy, greater security and a decent standard of living for all.”
As with so many of these sorts of get-togethers, there is a fair amount of good intentions mixed in with a lot of dodgy science, reckless economics, and Big Brother coercive utopianism. These things tend to promise much and deliver little.
A number of informed commentators have already been assessing this meeting, and their wisdom is worth recording here. Alan Caruba speaks of “Earth Summit Babble”. He says that plenty of dodgy predictions will be made here, with few of them worth taking much notice of.
“A 550-page preparatory UN report, put together by ‘600 experts’, the Global Environmental Outlook—intended to soften up global suckers—predicts that Earth’s environmental systems are nearly at ‘their biophysical limits’ thus subjecting the Earth to ‘irreversible and possibly cataclysmic world changes’ and ‘If humanity does not urgently change its ways’ it is doomed.”
Where have we heard all that before? All this scare-mongering is really about one thing: “Ever since the early days of environmental hysteria just about every awful scenario cooked up in the fevered brains of the Greens has become front page news. There is method to their madness and it comes down to a simple equation: Scaring People Equals Money and Power.
“Environmentalism is all about controlling you while picking your pocket. By any other name it is Socialism or its big brother Communism. It depends on lies backed up by a massive propaganda machine, funded by ultra-wealthy foundations, by governments who support Green programs of all sorts, and by the members of an endless succession of environmental organizations….
“Does it surprise anyone that the Earth Summit is calling for a ‘climate fund’ and wants nations to kick in $100 billion? The proposal for the fund called ‘The Earth We Want’ covers an extraordinary range of topics that includes gender equality, woman’s empowerment, and all the usual social justice and environmental clap-trap that is intended to ensnare everyone in a web of laws, regulations, and treaties aimed directly at eliminating the freedoms the West has and that many in other parts of the world want. There is one good reason to not ignore the Earth Summit. They are telling you just what kind of an Orwellian and totalitarian world they have in mind for you.”
Realist environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg describes how people will suffer – not from supposed catastrophes – but from the faulty policies being proposed here: “Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat. Even if we assumed – unreasonably – that it caused all deaths from floods, droughts, heat waves, and storms, this total would amount to just 0.06% of all deaths in developing countries. In comparison, 13% of all Third World deaths result from water and air pollution.
“So, for each person who might die from global warming, about 210 people die from health problems that result from a lack of clean water and sanitation, from breathing smoke generated by burning dirty fuels (such as dried animal dung) indoors, and from breathing polluted air outdoors.
“By focusing on measures to prevent global warming, the advanced countries might help to prevent many people from dying. That sounds good until you realize that it means that 210 times as many people in poorer countries might die needlessly as a result – because the resources that could have saved them were spent on windmills, solar panels, biofuels, and other rich-world fixations. But of course, poor countries’ tangible pollution problems are not trendy, and they do not engage outspoken campaigners, media, and governments the way that global warming can.
“Nowhere are the failed priorities better illustrated than in the UN’s official, colorful ‘Rio+20’ leaflet. Here, the UN helpfully provides a layman’s explanation of the summit, along with examples of its envisioned ‘green economy’ in action. We see scary pictures of dry riverbeds (the result of global warming), along with plenty of pretty solutions like wind turbines and solar panels.
“The problem is that green energy mostly is still much more expensive, less effective, and more intermittent than the alternatives. Yet, the summit literature claims that it will boost economic growth and eradicate poverty. But seriously, why do well-meaning First Worlders think that the Third World should have energy technologies that are more expensive, feebler, and less reliable than their own?”
He concludes, “In a world plagued by serious problems caused by air and water pollution, this breezy focus on trendy topics and unrealistic solutions is deeply disturbing. A disconnected global elite is flying to Rio to tell the world’s poor to have a solar panel. Rather than pandering to advanced countries’ obsessions, Rio+20 could do more good for humanity – and the planet – by focusing on the top environmental problems and their simple solutions.”
Finally, David Rothbard and Craig Rucker also speak to the faulty agendas being pursued here: “Rio+20 is clearly not about enabling countries, communities, and companies to do a better job of protecting the environment while helping families climb out of poverty. Instead, it is about using sustainable-growth pieties to target development projects, limit individual liberty and market-based initiatives, and provide sufficient wind and solar power to make modest improvements in the developing countries’ living conditions — all the while ensuring that poor families never become middle class, and that communities never conquer poverty, misery, and disease.
“Advancing ‘social equity’ and ‘environmental justice,’ as Rio+20 aims to do, will result in perpetuating poverty for developing countries and reducing living standards in wealthier countries. The goal is to ensure more equal sharing of increasing scarcity — except for ruling elites.
“The real ‘stakeholders’ — the world’s poorest people — are barely represented at Rio+20. The proceedings are controlled by bureaucrats who do not know how to generate wealth, who generally oppose efforts by those who do know, and who see humans primarily as consumers and polluters, rather than as creators and innovators, protectors and stewards.
“If Rio+20 achieves what its organizers have set out to accomplish, citizens of now-wealthy nations should prepare for new assaults on their living standards. People in poor nations should prepare for demands that they abandon their dreams for better lives. This is neither just nor sustainable. The radical Rio+20 agenda must be rejected — and constructive alternatives found.”
Quite so. But don’t expect our elites who are soaking up the rays on Rio’s nice beaches to pay any attention to these warnings. They are having too good a time – at taxpayers’ expense – to want to cut this vacation short.