The Rio+20 summit that closed last week was supposed to update and progress the ground-breaking global commitments made 20 years ago. Did it succeed? Er, no. Not only were the existing commitments not progressed, but it seems as if the summit agreement has made things worse? Why?
Instead of promoting sustainable development (roughly meaning pursuing economic, social and environmental goals together and making sure we pass on the earth to future generations in a fit state for them to live in), it replaces it with the term ‘sustained growth’ (roughly meaning continuing the approach that has destroyed natural resources, altered our climate, poisoned and emptied our seas of fish). The few positive commitments are so weak (‘we encourage’ rather than ‘we will’) or hedged about with qualifications or delays (like the one on protecting the ocean) to be meaningless. Many commentators predict that we’ve probably only got a century of a decent planetary life left.
But should we all give up on trying to protect the environment? No. Just because our so-called leaders don’t care about the environment or our children’s futures does NOT mean that ordinary people, companies and organisations don’t. Its through the actions of those like Finisterre, Patagonia, Surfers Against Sewage, Surfrider Foundation that surfing can set a good example. Ordinary surfers can make a little bit of effort and help clean up the ocean and beach. This week the Museum of British Surfing (represented by yours truly) picked up a major national award for its sustainability and social outreach work.
Because surfers spend so much time immersed in the extremes of nature we will experience the degrading environment before most. If we choose to we can show the leadership to bring us back from the brink.