Mikhail Gorbachev, who heads up Green Cross International, has talked of the squandering of opportunity and the irresponsibility of leaders who have ignored the pressing need for action over climate change and world poverty, and who have created the global financial crisis: he contrasted the “optimism and hope” of the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago with the “cynicism and despair” of the one to come. His is a powerful and compelling indictment, and also a truthful one.
While the refusal of China, the US, Germany, the UK and many other countries (all of whose leaders will not bother to go to Brazil at all) to think strategically and long term, to listen to expert advice on what is the most serious challenge confronting us all and to prioritise actions sensibly, is disappointing – possibly dangerous – it would be wrong to blame them for a blinkered, selfish, subjective approach to the needs of the planet. We are responsible, for we have accepted, condoned, a process of government which is flawed, distorted, unfair and unkind, and still do. Every person who voted for Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Bush, Blair……made a choice which is reflected in the debacle of this Rio Summit.
I learned very recently that Al Gore, when Vice-President, authorised the building of a satellite in 1998 to observe global warming in action from deep space; George Bush cancelled the project and the costly satellite, which could have given us incredibly vital information about climate change and solar flares and much more, was mothballed. Gore had vision: imagine how different our world would be if he had become President, as he so nearly did. It was so close and such an opportunity missed – and where, today, is there a world leader who truly understands?]]>