Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 29, 2012

I Am Sorry

I was in Rio for the first Earth Summit.

Most of the world’s leaders came too. We all huddled, participated and negotiated treaties on climate change, biodiversity and desertification. Staying up and pulling all nighters to draft long documents clearly full of controversy — yet agreeable in that spirit where EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE. The Earth Summit concluded with REAL HOPE and the story of our success was transported around the world and remained a headliner for months across the globe, spurring many new actions, from new TV channels to  organizations and action was fast & furious….

This was the birth year of the Environmental Parliament too.

We schemed, we planed, we de-radicalized and mainly worked, inspired and aspired.

We were young…

I felt part of history.

Living, Loving, Longing…

Living in the moment, working and aspiring with great comrades and lovers…

Loving every minute of it…

And longing for the change we saw as inevitable…

Back then, Maurice Strong, the secretary-general of the First Earth Summit event, admitted to failure upon completion of the negotiations amongst the largest assembly of world leaders in history. He admitted failure, because the First Rio Earth Summit gave us an agreement, without any commitment.

Attended by 114 heads of state and government, the summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, approved the giant Agenda 21 document, intended as a blueprint for a sustainable future, plus the Rio Declaration and a statement of forest principles. More the 150 nations signed conventions on climate and biodiversity.

But as Secretary General of the Summit, Maurice Strong told delegates in his closing address: “We don’t have the means to carry any of it all through” and the agreement documents were vast, fuzzy worded and full of controversy. And no nations had yet opened their purse to help put things right.

Still we were full of HOPE.

What a difference 20 odd years make.

Today all that HOPE has been squandered.

Because this time around and with the new  RIO + 20 EARTH SUMMIT, the final softly softly corporate sponsored and self muted “declaration” was stitched up by corporate sponsors, PR drones, Advertising lip gloss chicks, UN personnel, civil servants and assorted McDonald’s fast food servers, and junior Coke execs, copy pasting it all, just the day before the modest crew of second-tier politicians arrived to parrot their part of it.

Naturally, there was not even a place on the agenda for the ministers to discuss the new mealy mouthed declaration, and thank God, they didn’t. Instead, they spent three days reading canned statements, often used and reheated older speeches, and some hastily thought responses. Otherwise, the weather was fine, so they went out to eat a lot, they drank Caipirinha cocktails, went shopping, hit the beaches, dined the WAGs and after the junket holiday weekend — they went home. Nobody stated on to review the carnage.  Because by lunchtime on the final day of the conference — the place was empty. There was nothing to stay for. There were no bodies lying on the battlefield to be counted and buried…

This was a rather quiet and sanitized Waterloo moment. The Emperor is really naked – so what?

Nobody’s particular blood was spilled inside the conference hall in Rio. Yet all of us are bleeding from newly opened wounds in the Matrix of Life… All this bloodshed went unseen in Rio but it represents a tidal wave all around the world. And the cries of the species under threat of extinction aren’t heard here, yet provide a Clarion Call for those of us pure enough to listen.

The millions of species of LIFE already lost since the first Earth Summit in Rio back in 1992 are eerily silent.

Nobody was left back… in Rio + 20 to sum things up.

And nobody to take stock of the failure and admit defeat…

An assembly of 50,000 participants to discuss saving the world would seem like environmental profligacy at the best of times, yet when the outcome is so mind numbing and the expectations so infinitesimal, the absurdity of the wasted effort is amplified.

What on Earth did we think we were all doing here?

Sex on the beach.

Yes. That was the only good thing here…

And people literally dove in the sand for it.

Maybe since that was the favourite cocktail of choice for all the delegates who ventured out to Ipanema beach in the South and beyond.

Still nobody was self deluded enough to expect RIO+20 to turn up miracles, but even the most modest hopes were dashed. The Environmental Parliament and other IGOs along with most all NGOs that are usually adept at finding crumbs of comfort at the end of these long Environmental conferences seemed either dumbstruck or suddenly gone autistic in their lamentations.

The clear red hot anger made people seem mad. Some of the natural scientists were the angriest lot and not only because of what they daily see out there in the Natural world being destroyed, but by the destruction of HOPE this Earth Summit represented. Because a lot of things have been trashed in the past two decades including millions of species of LIFE, along with the aspirations of sustainability. Yet trashing HOPE is the end result. The absolute END. Because as we all know, HOPE is the last one to die. HOPE dies…

And then there’s nothing left.

We are using resources twice as fast as we were doing back in 1992. Carbon dioxide emissions are up by more than 40 per cent and for the first time in history we have more than 400 ppmv of carbon in the Atmosphere, leading to four degree warming and accelerating the greenhouse effects.

Still – some will say – at least now, we know better how to handle the mess we created…

And maybe we will rely on Technology to sort this thing out. Technology like Climate Rockets, Seeding clouds, enhancing the albedo effect, explofing nukes high up  the atmosphere and causing Nuclear Winter. And many other harebrained Cooling Methods, and Tech Fixes, like Geoengineering short term fixes, Green economics fixes, Accounting like the Stern report fixes, Earth engineering, and  even old fashioned Miitary Action, are all on the table. And some of these are maturing ideas… Yet they are maturing as terrible short term plan B options, and may soon grab the headlines as they cause further damage to an already tipping overly fragile Ecosystem.  One thing this whole arsenal of technological marvels might produce is this. It might provide for us, the comparable costs, the clear means and the figures to see in a cost benefit spreadsheet analysis, the picture of the value of REAL CONSERVATION. To help us SEE clearly, that old fashioned CONSERVATIVE environmental protection is a good and prudent  investment. It is not a cost to our economies but rather the GREATEST ASSET. It is just a small conservative insurance premium based on proper risk analysis, solid actuarial data, and statistical science.



For people to understand this with actual figures is golden.

But that is another bridge too far…

The Environmental Parliament along with most environmentally aware leaders of communities around the globe and their green advisers, understandably fears this RIO+20 failure may be terminal.

Yet, I believe that we can and must harness this death, in order to reignite lost HOPE.

Like a death in the family, brings everybody together, let’s get together and talk. Let’s talk about our FAILURE, admit it, and then go out and reverse it. And celebrate. Celebrate the reignition of HOPE.

And the aspirations of 20 years ago can and will be reignited because with new “old school” activism blended with advocacy, and civil disobedience, using science and technology, we do have the power to transform the way we govern ourselves, the way we consume, the way we do business and we can make it all benign for the ecosystems we depend upon to survive. We can part the waters. We can turn the tide back.


Only if we all work together…

And if anyone really looks hard for glimmers of hope, like the starry luminescence in the night surf, when swimming the beaches of Rio, we can report that there are already some feeble signs of light. Luminous signs of hope.

One is that people are now finally aware that the Ecosystem they rely upon for their survival is their own. It is a part of them and they are part of it. A huge realization this one for anyone of us.

Second is the localization of Action.

Third is the radicalization of Youth and how can that be harnessed to benevolent forces

Fourth is the Sincerity of understanding this FAILURE has brought on all of us.

Fifth and final is that consumption has peaked in the industrialised world.

But with the fast rising third world’s population and the commensurate rise of the Middle Class in Billions of people, any optimism is certainly premature and misguided.

Instead we should use this saturation of the consumer class, and the satiation of it’s ravenous appetites, as a lever mechanism to the advantage of nature, by turning people into experiencers instead of consumers.

Turning people into spirituals, instead of consumers.

Turning people back into beings…

What a dream…

Yet time is running out as the rising tides manifest. Earth waits for no one.

We should be in no doubt, about the urgency of the matter at hand. Common action cannot wait either…

Because right now as we are turning up the Earth’s thermostat by more than three or even four degrees and as we create a warmer climate, and atmosphere — we are really tampering with Earth’s life-support systems. And not in a good way. We are destroying their capacity to bounce back. Ergo – killing them permanently.

And when the oil companies show up to claim their Greenwashing credentials in RIO+20 along with all those other Big Businesses that trash the planet, and when they usurp the UN mechanism and put together flashy events like the World Climate to pat themselves on the back, we are there to protest and bring a sense of reality back to the game. We are bringing to the streets of rio over One Hundred Thousand strong army of people under the banner of the Environmental Parliament. Because at the end we are one. Polluters, consumers, activists, politicians, bureaucrats, UN workers, diplomats, street sweepers, recyclers of the vast garbage slums and the bottom of the pyramid refugees in the favellas of Rio. We are all one in this and our responsibility to act is shared.

Make no doubt about it. There is no duality here. We are all together in this. There is no division. Just a gap of understanding. And what my friends and my enemies share is that understanding. Only the later are misinformed…

Yet what is most dismaying here from the outcomes of the RIO+20 Earth Summit of 2012, is that the chasm between what we could achieve and the political will to do so has grown abysmally deep and wide.

RIO+20 offered no bridge to this divide and we are now on our own.

Still nobody from the UN Secretary General and the Earth Summit leaders, all the way down, never admitted defeat and failure. They explained things away as a success…  As if they were living on another planet and the events last week in Rio didn’t happen to them…

Unlike 20 years ago the current crop of leaders is not strong. They are weak. They are unable to articulate and communicate reality. And when you don’t see reality – you are bound to keep on failing.

Unlike that, we are fully cognizant of our tremendous failure of leadership.

Speaking for the Environmental Parliament — I can say:


Am Sorry.


Awfully Sorry my friends. Am Sorry because we didn’t do enough. We didn’t work harder. We didn’t organize and we didn’t lobby harder. In the end of the day, I am Sorry for failing all of You…


Speaking for myself, I can say:

I accept all blame. I shall take the lessons and vow to Fight on with fresh wisdom, renewed vigor and new resources.



I am So Sorry.

And will do my utmost to reverse this failure of leadership on my part.

And am certain that I will.

May God give me time, bestow my heart with Compassion and my hands with the giant lever of leadership to uplift People’s Consciousness.

And if you feel this way too…

Step up here.




And please  come give me a hand.




Yet before we write it all off and chuck the lot into the sea, we need to consider the future in light of the past.

Because the First Earth Summit in 1992, was a success winning the hearts and minds of so many of us and creating incredible energy to move forward…

I know it did this for me.

So before we hang our hat and give up in dismay and decide to go fishing — we should look at the farthest past and see how other magnificent civilizations like ours went wrong and fizzled out.

Was there any great moment of awakening?


Was there any moment of recognition of were we went wrong?


Will there be such an AHA moment for us to give us the balls to switch course and stop our imminent demise?


Will we “Man Up” and face the music?


Not if we just blindly follow the same trends outlined in the last centuries of our industrial development…

Will we Survive?

No. Not, instead, we’ll all go the way of the Easter Island civilization, and slink back into oblivion to make way for something else.

Will we go out with a bang?

No. We’ll go out Quietly…

Like a mouse. Same way our leaders lead today.

Careful here. Refrain from judgement about our self importance, because at the end of the day, this is how civilisations end.

Much like last week’s RIO+20 Earth Summit.

Quietly, with nary a murmur.

Civilizations end and are forgotten just because of inaction.

They never go out with a bang — nary a whimper.

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