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Peter Jay Brown Headshot

The U.N. 'Sustainability' Conference -- What Are We Sustaining?

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As delegates from around the world gather in Rio (de Janeiro) for the U.N. "sustainability" conference we have to ask ourselves: 20 years after they first met, what has changed?

I say little or nothing.

Although the idea of being green appeals to the masses, it does not fit the program of those in power. Power and money depend on growth -- the growth of populations, the growth of industry; grow, grow, grow.

Where does sustainability fit in?

We hear daily how my generation has mortgaged our children's future, but to the masses, this deals mostly with money. Financial deficits are important, but what about our children's fresh water? What about our children's clean air or natural food?

Other than from "tree huggers" such as myself, we hear little about this, and when we do it is always of secondary importance to how "we will pay for it." Human societies everywhere are built on constant growth, but now that we are hitting the population wall out of the woodwork come the neo-conservationists. These are folks who dismiss the idea of wilderness conservation in favor of promoting what in nature benefits us: humans. Now that we have reached limits, should we only be concerned with the plants and animals that benefit mankind? Are the ideas of biodiversity, interdependence, and finite resources ideals to be sacrificed or ignored?

No, they are not.

Technology, although nice, is not the answer. Just because we can play God and produce designer foods, "fake" meat in factories, and unusually fast-growing fish, should we? This is a question that each of us needs to answer before it is too late.

My answer is HELL NO! History tells us that humans do not play God well and that most human accomplishments can be easily overcome by nature. Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, we as the human species are rushing toward a "designer nature."

Perhaps there is no real wilderness left. Man has spread like a virus across the world and now we are left with glorified zoos instead of real, pristine nature. Some are large zoos for sure, but zoos nonetheless. The neo-conservationists tell folks like me to "get over it"; man has won. If nature dies, there's nothing to worry about, because we are smart enough to make it better, right? Better for man, that is, to hell with animals or plants. Poison ivy must be on earth for a reason, but it's not good for humans so they whack it. Sharks are scary so they whack them too... shark fins are tasteless anyway and the Chinese can boil fingernails in water to get the same flavor, so who needs them?

Let's just hope the same brain trust that imported cane toads to Australia to eat sugarcane beetles, is not the same brain trust that will decide our future.

Cane toads are destroying Australian eco systems countrywide and humans can't do a damn thing to stop them. Google "cane toad" and then imagine the future on the path we are on as humanity marches on.

I'll stick with the old idea of wilderness and will keep up the fight.

For the rest of you who would rather give in because it's comfortable or whatever, hopefully you can invent healthy avatars to populate the garden of Eden that governments and industry invent, but be prepared to live your artificial life in a climate controlled, air scrubbed environment. Even the popcorn you snack on while playing your life will be fake.

I say, enough is enough is enough.

It's time to get outside, experience real nature in all its diversity, mystery, and (yes) danger. Once you do, all the fake food and fake nature will seem empty. At that time if we have not destroyed it all, many more will join me in fighting and advocating a real sustainable and diverse future where humans are a part of nature, "on the bus" so to speak, instead of diving the damn exhaust spewing monster willy-nilly... no brakes, all gas!

Let's hope we do better in the next 20 years than we have done in the past 20. If and when the last tree falls, I, like the Lorax, will be chained to it... I hope not alone.

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