04 July 2010

Can't Win for Losing — Why Do We Ignore the Principles of Sustainable Development at Our Peril?

from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
As reported by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (June 2010, No growth in total global COemissions in 2009), the economic downturn in late 2008 and 2009 meant that the world's developed countries (OECD nations and Russia) spewed 7 percent less carbon dioxide than the year before — a dramatic decrease. This is the first time since the 1992 recession that global CO2 emissions have not increased. Good news, right? (Oh yeah!) "This would have been the largest drop in more than 40 years because the global recession froze economic activity and slashed energy use around the world."

However, the CO2 emissions of China and India increased 9 percent and 6 percent respectively — strong increases. 

The result? No growth in CO2 emissions last year, but no decrease either. China and India completely nullified the drop in emissions in the developed nations. Global emissions of carbon dioxide have therefore remained constant. (And if we want to avert global climate catastrophe, we have to get our carbon emissions down to virtually zero. Obviously, our math sucks.)

This also means, obviously, that we have done a very poor job of teaching about and insisting on sustainable development and its principles as a discussion, planning and decision-making framework. Sustainable development, which was introduced to the world at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, has been around for almost 20 years — and still we have developing nations developing in ways that aren't sustainable ... while we in the developed parts of the world continue with our unsustainable growth. 

Ah, it's all nuts. Just nuts. Why can't we all grow up and learn to get along ... like Wombat says?

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?