20 June 2012

Rio + 20 = Too Much


If the environmental impact of Rio +20 mirrors the flow of emails announcing it, then we are all well and truly screwed.

The insanity of hosting this conference in the least sustainable part of one of the world’s least “sustainable” cities has not quite caught on in the official announcements. Somehow, a city with no recycling program, with no food security program, with clogged traffic arteries, a huge housing deficit, no program to check if the subsidized closed condo complexes are connected to municipal sewage lines, somehow, this classifies a place as “sustainable”. It must be the massive military occupation that makes this word fit. Or perhaps filling hotel rooms is a way to “green” a city. Or perhaps slapping some grass on rooftops and creating false environmental certifications, contracting foreign universities to collaborate with business magnates or embarking on repetitive cycles of creative destruction lead business and policy elites to say things like:


Leakages. Right. I also understand that North Korea has issues with their voting machines.

For the thirty-odd people that are not in Rio de Janeiro this week for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development [sic], the Cupula dos Povos, the C40 Mayor’s conference, Humanidade (still not sure what that is), and three days of mayor-decreed holidays,  you are missing out.  The city’s avenues are shutting down periodically and emphatically for the comings and goings of super, extra-important and very, very special people. On every corner in the Centro and Zona Sul there are huge men standing around with even bigger guns, showing the path to Barra de Tijuca where tens of thousands of Brazilian army regulars are patrolling. Every few minutes a helicopter with snipers sitting in the open door putters past my window. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I perceive as the rank hypocrisy of Rio+20 and what I perceive to be the complete green-washing of what has become a global business conference. We all know that in the midst of an economic crisis, the first items to be cut are international holidays (unless paid for with public funds), environmental protection measures, education and health care. The order and depth of the cuts vary, but is always the same. “Austerity” is just another word for nothing left to lose. I think that’s a Joan Baez tune.

So is this clusterbumble of an event designed to make the world conscious about environmental issues, or is it a chance to get us to resolve our problems through the more efficient implementation of technological and technocratic solutions to a narrative of collective doom articulated by prophets of globalization? It is probably something in between those two poles, but both are being stroked by conservatives.

The raising of environmental consciousness is, of course, necessary and right. However, unless that consciousness is decoupled from acts of consumption then it continues the same patterns that have made that consciousness necessary in the first place. That is, if we think that buying carbon offsets and engaging cycles of creative destruction is a way to solve environmental problems, then I am going to change my last name to Bloomberg. The mantra of sustainable development depends on cycles of ever-increasing growth, not wealth re-distribution or re-allocation or alternative use. Reducing the divide between rich and poor will never enter the equation @ Rio+20. Building a discursive platform that “everyone” (except us) can agree upon while sustaining economic growth, ensures that the status quo will be maintained, an essentially conservative position. Does it matter whether or not we collective act upon the carefully crafted words of Rio +20? Or have the words been so carefully crafted that they will have no effect other than to assuage our collective iphone guilt? Is there an app for that? Can I buy carbon credits with the money I get from selling my Exxon shares?

The other pole dancers are those who see the era of capitalist developmentalism with certain nostalgia and want to slap a certificate on their old products to continue business as usual. It is right and proper that the conference is happening on an overdeveloped wetland with massive sewage, transportation, social and housing problems. The lack of irony is as profound as the lack of honest intention. We can market the solutions to death. As my colleague Leo Name pointed out recently, what happened to Chlorofluorocarbons? Remember how bad those things were? Then there was a solution, HCFCs, just a little more expensive. Now, HCFCs are bad, so we need another, yet more expensive solution, HCFC+. I prefer leeches, thanks. Stick ‘em right on that old air-conditioner.

I’m going to process this Rio+20 mess by avoiding it entirely. The alternatives being proposed at the Cupula dos Povos are much more interesting and the massive marches happening today from the Vila Autodromo to the Rio+20 site, despite intentional sabotage from the city, are an expression of a human consciousness that goes beyond mercantilist logics which is where we need to go to arrive at solutions for problems that may or may not be collective, depending on your ability to buy yourself a motorcycle escort, helicopter flight, or clean glass of water in Barra de Tijuca.  


No comments:

Labels

2014 World Cup Rio de Janeiro Maracanã FIFA 2016 Olympics 2016 Summer Olympics Eduardo Paes CBF Copa do Mundo 2014 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Ricardo Texeira World Cup 2014 Vasco da Gama 2010 World Cup White Elephants mega-events APO UPP BRT Brazil football Flamengo Lula Orlando Silva violence ANT Aldeia Maracana Carlos Nuzman Dilma Eike Batista Rio 2016 Sergio Cabral 2007 Pan American Games Campeonato Carioca Corruption IOC Jerome Valcke Novo Maracanã stadiums BOPE BRASIL 2016 Brasil 2014 Engenhao Joao Havelange Maracana Policia Militar Vila Autódromo Aldo Rebelo Botafogo Henrique Meirelles Medida Provisoria Metro Revolta do Vinagre Sao Paulo Sepp Blatter World Cup 2010 forced removal Carnaval Elefantes Brancos Fechadao Marcia Lins Minerao Morumbi Odebrecht Porto Maravilha Rio+20 Romario Security Walls South Africa South Africa 2010 TCU Transoeste protests public money public transportation slavery transparency x-Maracana Andrew Jennings Argentina Audiencia Publica Barcelona Brazil Carvalho Hosken Comitê Popular Confederatons Cup Copa do Brasil 2010 Cost overruns Crisis of Capital Accumulation EMOP FERJ Favela do Metro Fluminense Fluminese Fonte Novo IMX Jose Marin Leonel Messi London 2012 Marcelo Freixo Maré Museu do Indio Olympic Delivery Authority Perimetral Rocinha Soccerex Transcarioca bicycles consumer society debt idiocy militarization transportation 1995 Rugby World Cup 2004 Olympics 2015 Copa America Banco Imobiliario Barcas SA Belo Horizonte Bom Senso F.C. Brasilerao CDURP CONMEBOL Champions League. Mourinho Complexo do Alemão Copa Libertadores Cupula dos Povos ESPN England FiFA Fan Fest Istanbul 2020 Jogos Militares John Carioca Kaka Manaus McDonald's Obama Olympic Village PPP Paralympics Providencia Recife Russia Salvador Soccer City Taksim Square Tatu-bola Urban Social Forum Vidigal Vila Olimpica War World Cup Xaracana attendance figures cities corrupcao drugs estadios football frangueiro futebol mafia planejamento urbano police repression porn privitization reforms shock doctrine taxes 201 2010 Elections 2010 Vancouver Olypmics 2013 2018 World Cup 2030 Argentina / Uruguay ABRAJI AGENCO ANPUR ANT-SP Amazonia Ancelmo Gois Andrade Gutierrez Anthony Garotinho Arena Amazonia Arena Pernambucana Athens Atlético Paranaense Avenida das Americas BID Barra de Tijuca Blatter Brasil x Cote d'Iviore Brasileirão 2013 Brasilia Brasilierao Bruno Souza Bus fares COB COI COMLURB CPI CPO Cabral Caixa Economica Canal do Anil Cantagalo Celio de Barros Cesar Maia Chapeu Mangueira Chile 2015 Choque do Ordem Cidade da Copa Class One Powerboat Racing Clint Dempsey Comite Companhia das Docas Copa do Brasil Corinthians Cuiabá Curitiba Dave Zrin David Harvey Der Spiegel Eastwood Edge of Sports Escola Friendenrich Expo Estadio Expo Urbano FGV Fonte Nova Gamboa Garotinho Geostadia Ghana Globo Greek Debt Crisis Greek Olympics HBO Hipoptopoma IMG IPHAN ISL Iniesta Internatinal Football Arena Invictus Istanbul Itaquerao Jacque Rogge Jefferson John Coates Jose Beltrame Julio Grondona Julio Lopes Julio de Lamare Knights Templar Korea Lei Geral da Copa MAR MEX Manchester United Mangabeira Unger Maracanã. Soccerex Marina da Gloria Mexico Milton Santos Molotov Cocktail Mr.Balls Neymar Nicholas Leoz Nilton Santos Olympic Flag Olympic Park Project Oscar Niemeyer Pacaembu Pan American Games Parque Olimpico Pernambuco Plano Popular Plano Popular do Maracana Plano Popular do Maracanã Play the Game Pope Porto Alegre Porto Olimpico Porto Seguro Portuguesa Praca Tiradentes Preview Projeto Morrinho Putin Qatar Quatar 2022 RSA Realengo Regis Fichtner Roberto Dinamite Russia 2018 SETRANS SMH Santa Teresa Santos Sao Raimundo Sargento Pepper Security Cameras Smart City Sochi 2014 South Korea Stormtroopers São Januário São Paulo Teargas Templars Tokyo 2020 Tropa do Elite II Turkey UFRJ/IPPUR URU USA USA! Unidos da Tijuca United States government Urban Age Conference VVIP Via Binário Victory Team Vila Autodromo Vila Cruzeiro Vila do Pan Vilvadao Vivaldao Volta Alice Wasteland Workers' Party World Cup 2018 Xavi Zurich apartments atrazos barrier beer bio-fuels bonde capacities civil society comite popular copa sudamericana crack crime dengue dictatorship estádios favelalógica feira livre fiador flooding freedom of information furos geral graffiti guarda municipal host city agreement identity infrastructure ipanema istoe labor rape riots schedule school shooting security segregation social movements stadium state of exception supervia tear gas ticket prices torcidas organizadas tourism traffic tragedy trash trem-bala velodromo wikileaks xingar