The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes
“I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers, ending poverty and in finding treaties, what a wonderful place this earth would be.” These are the words of Canadian Severn Suzuki, who delivered a speech at the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janerio. By then she was only 12, but she went down the history as the girl ‘who silenced the world for 5 minutes’. Now Suzuki is 32 years old and is a mother of two. After 20 years she is going to make another speech yet again in Rio Summit. She is going to ask the leaders what has changed in all these years.
We have only 18 years till the earth’s resources to drain
Both the planes flying Rio de Janerio and the hotels there are fully booked this week. Don’t misunderstand, all of these people are not going there for the beautiful beaches of Rio, a city that is 30 degrees even in winter. The people are flocking to Rio because of United Nation’s summit. More than 50 thousand people will discuss how to merge the concepts of economical growth and the happiness of the 7 billion people in the world for two days.
Green economy is a brand new expression. There are tons of definitions made for it. But all of these definitions converge on the idea of “realizing that the earth’s resources are finite.” World is getting more and more crowded every day. And this increases the demand on the natural resources. However, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warns that a big threat is ahead. If we keep on using all these natural resources at this speed, we will drain them by 2030. This means that we have only 18 years left to save the world.
Green economy in, capitalism out
Green economy, which is the main agenda of Rio Summit, is an attempt to be a remedy for both economical crises and food and climate crises. However, there is a precondition for that: “The current economic structure should be changed completely.” Leaders now agree that economic growth and development are two separate things. The countries should grow, but this should not hurt the future generations nor the environment. For example China, whose economy is on the rise for years, often comes under fire for harming nature. On the other hand, South Korea emerges as the country which has done the most successful transition to green economy.
So how can a country achieve development? There are some prerequisites of course. Environment should not be polluted. Energy should be used efficiently and alternative energy sources like solar and wind should be preferred. Furthermore recycling should become widespread. However, even all of these are not enough. In a country that adopts green economy, life standards should not be low. This means that there should not be a huge income gap between the rich and the poor.
So one might say that green economy is silently fighting capitalism that only worships profit and constantly creates crises. For the leaders that promote this idea, green economy is in, capitalism is out…
Special protection for the grass at the environment summit
More than ten thousand people who will attend the conference, but choose not to stay in the hotels will camp in Rio. Most of them are young activists. Peasants and indigenous people will also join them. But all eyes are on their campground; Flamengo Park. During the summit of 1992 thousands of people camped in the same place. However, the damage they had given to the grass created big tension in the country. Now everyone wonders what kind of precautions the government will take to stop the same thing from repeating.
Here is Severn Suzuki’s 21 million times watched speech at the 1992 Rio Summit
“Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it. I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day — vanishing forever.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.
I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you!
You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.
If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty, ending poverty and in finding treaties what a wonderful place this earth would be!
You grownups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words.”