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Opinion, by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The One Big One: Was the Rio+20 Conference a success, a failure, or something in between? Ten serious questions follow, then ten more (perhaps) less serious:
1 ) Assuming you regard Rio+20 as a failure, do you believe the title of Gabriel Garcia Marques’s novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” is relevant?

The Curmudgeon, also known as Michael Royster.
The Curmudgeon, also known as Michael Royster.

2 ) Should the UN ever again mount a mega-million dollar multinational meeting like this?
3 ) Was the motto “The Future We Want” a very bad choice, because it implies putting off till tomorrow what ought to be done today?
4 ) Why did the Times, the NYTimes, the LA Times, and all the Posts and other “important” media outside Brazil simply ignore this conference?
5 ) Why don’t many people like the phrase “green economy”?
6 ) (With a preamble): Fifty years ago, Economics 101 courses taught the dilemma known as “guns vs. butter” — whether ‘twas better to spend on armaments or on food production. Is it fair to say that nowadays, the dilemma seems to be “trees vs. butter” — whether ‘tis better to chop a tree and plant food, or hug the tree and preserve nature?
7 ) (Another preamble): In the Great Depression, FDR began public works projects designed to kick-start a stalled economy; many of these projects (e.g. immense power-generating dams like Hoover) are now condemned as anti-environmental. In a world where economies are falling like dominos, is Brazil right to give priority to public works projects designed to kick-start a stalled economy (e.g. immense power-generating dams like Belo Monte) even if they are condemned as anti-environmental?
8 ) Why haven’t all those sincere people who attended the Earth Summit twenty years ago been able to develop sufficient political power to do something since then?
9 ) Is there a way, during the coming decade(s), to overcome the political/economic fault lines between: (a) the “developed” powers, a/k/a colonialists; (b) the “emerging” powers, a/k/a BRICS; and (c) the “poorest” a/k/a powerless countries?
10 ) Can “civil society” do at least some of the things governments are unwilling or unable to do to preserve the future environment?

But enough sobriety!:
1 ) Why is putting a Chinese bureaucrat in charge of the Conference not quite the same as putting a fox in charge of guarding the henhouse?
2 ) What reason do you ascribe to Hillary Clinton staying in Rio for only 17 hours and thrice that at the G20 in Mexico?
3 ) The defrocked Leonardo Boff preached that the Abyss is nigh if we continue capitalists; does he (or you) believe that socialism (e.g. Soviet Union, China) is a more environmental friendly system?
4 ) Should we slaughter all the cattle in the world to cut down on CO2 caused by their flatulence, and if so, whose herds should we start with?
5 ) How much did the Brazilian National Industrial Council and behemoth banks like Bradesco spend proclaiming (mendaciously) how green they are?
6 ) Greenpeace has a ship called the Rainbow Warrior; does that strike you as more or less strange than calling the Colt 45 a “Peacemaker”?
7 ) Why do women march topless to protest a lack of women’s rights in a country governed by a woman, who has greatly increased the number of women in positions of power?
8 ) Should the Governor and the Mayor be impeached for decreeing that civil servants ought not work during Rio+20?
9 ) Does anyone know a better English equivalent for the phrase “ponto facultativo” than “playing hooky authorized”?
10 ) Before you went down to the Vic Muniz Aterro project to contribute garbage/trash/rubbish to the “art work”, shouldn’t you have read “Les Mains Sales” by J-P Sartre?


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Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, moved here thirty-plus years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)

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The Curmudgeon moved to Rio almost forty years ago, and has pretty much remained here ever since. He’s been writing political commentary for The Rio Times for almost seven years. He used to refer to himself as a WASP (look it up) but doesn’t any more because it embarrasses him.

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