Returning from Rio: Have Governments Given Up On the Planet?

27 Jun 2012

It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth’s living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit in Rio last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth“, the primary cause of the biosphere’s losses.

The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.

The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront. We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.

We have used our unprecedented freedoms – secured at such cost by our forebears – not to agitate for justice, for redistribution, for the defence of our common interests, but to pursue the dopamine hits triggered by the purchase of products we do not need. The world’s most inventive minds are deployed not to improve the lot of humankind but to devise ever more effective means of stimulation, to counteract the diminishing satisfactions of consumption. The mutual dependencies of consumer capitalism ensure that we all unwittingly conspire in the trashing of what may be the only living planet. The failure at Rio de Janeiro belongs to us all.

It marks, more or less, the end of the multilateral effort to protect the biosphere. The only successful global instrument – the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer – was agreed and implemented years before the first Earth Summit in 1992. It was one of the last fruits of a different political era, in which intervention in the market for the sake of the greater good was not considered anathema, even by the Thatcher and Reagan governments. Everything of value discussed since then has led to weak, unenforceable agreements, or to no agreements at all.


Are women greener than men?

18 Jun 2012

When it comes to caring for the environment, is there a gender difference between men and women?

A growing body of social science research suggests yes. Women consistently rank values strongly linked to environmental concern — things such as altruism, personal responsibility and empathy — as more important than men do. They also say they see environmentalism as important to protecting themselves and their families.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found women are less likely than men to support environmental spending cuts and are less sympathetic to business when it comes to environmental regulation. They also have more positive feelings about environmental activists and are concerned about environmental risks to health, especially locally.

Women in industrialized countries are more likely to buy ecologically friendly and organic foods, more likely to recycle and more interested in efficient energy use, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And a survey of research by investigators at Stanford, Ohio State University and the Associated Press found women perceived greater vulnerability to risks and were more willing to pay higher income taxes and gasoline prices to protect the environment.

So where does that leave the dudes?


How long does it take to decompose? It’s frightening

14 Jun 2012

Look at this the next time you throw something “away”. Where is away anyway?


How the Collective Power of Women Can Change the World (Part 3 of 3)

14 Jun 2012

At a peace summit in Vancouver, the Dalai Lama made an extraordinary statement when he said that the world will be saved by the western women. This proclamation created a tsunami of responses in cyberspace. Can you imagine? The Dalai Lama saying it will be women that will save the world? As remarkable as this was to many, it was “duh” moment for me. I thought, of course, it’ll be women. We purchase 85% of the consumer goods in the United States. We can do right now by what we buy – and don’t buy. That was my “ah-ha” moment. That’s when I decided to write and speak on this topic.

Let’s look at the numbers. It is estimated that American women spend about five trillion dollars annually. That’s over half of the US GDP. We purchase everything from autos to health care. Here are some quick stats on our purchases:


How the Collective Power of Women Can Change the World (Part 2 of 3)

6 Jun 2012

by Carolyn Parrs

This is Part 2 of 3 on “How the Collective Power of Women Can Change the World”

Read Part 1

QUICKIE QUIZ #2: On April 26, 1777, who rode through the towns of New York and Connecticut warning everyone that the British were coming, and gathered enough volunteers to push back the British army the very next day? Not Paul Revere. It was Sybil Luddington who accomplished this feat at the ripe age of 16. Her ride was twice as long as Paul’s but unfortunately most of us never heard of it — or her.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” says poet, Maya Angelou. How important it is for us to be invited to the table – especially now. “The fortunes of nations are inextricably tied to the fortunes of women,” says Hillary Rodham Clinton in the foreword to The International Human Rights of Women. “It is this simple: where women flourish, her families flourish. And where families flourish, communities and nations flourish. Issues affecting women and their families are not ‘soft’ issues to be relegated to the sidelines of serious debate, rather, they are among the hardest and most important issues we face.”


How the Collective Power of Women Can Change the World (Part 1 of 3)

1 Jun 2012

by Carolyn Parrs

When sleeping women wake, mountains move.

~ Chinese proverb

No sunlight. No fresh air. Enclosed in darkness to plump up in an insanely artificial way. That’s the reality for most chickens being farmed today. And if the farmers under contract with the Big Boys do not agree to raise their livestock that way, “They hold their contract over their heads,” says third generation chicken farmer, Carole Morison. She was mad as hell and just couldn’t take it anymore.



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