While it is easy to understand why so many environmentally concerned people are fearful and pessimistic, these attitudes detract from the goal of improving our environment. Fear is well warranted, we are on the verge of a widespread ecosystem collapse and we have reached 400 ppm of atmospheric C02 in the arctic. However, rather than just ask how bad things are, we should be asking how we can best address the calamities we face within the time we have available.
Fear mongering does not move us forward, if anything, it alienates people who most need to be brought into the discussion. The reaction to Rio+20 is a great illustration of the point. The summit in Rio has been justifiably described as “weak,” ”remarkably listless,” and a ”disappointment.” Sometimes the zeal of some environmentalists makes it hard for them to recognize progress. The business community’s commitments were the one bright spot at Rio, nonetheless they too were subjected to a barrage of harsh criticisms. One article suggests that progress at Rio was derailed by big business. Some even dismissed the entire process, claiming that the summit was hijacked by powerful corporations.
Peter Bakker is head of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and he flatly rejects the criticism that the 1,000 businesses that attended Rio were not serious about creating change. As Bakker points out, there are good businesses that work to be more sustainable and there are bad businesses that work to undermine progress. “The 20 percent of really bad guys we need to regulate out of existence…You can go home from Rio totally frustrated and create absolutely nothing, but if you see the result as half full, despite the disappointment, you will see hooks for processes, dialogues and for agreements around targets,” Bakker said.