The US and the European Union want to turn the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg which is supposed to tackle environmental protection and the eradication of poverty into a forum for “free trade”. Powerful lobby groups representing the interests of the giant monopoly corporations have descended upon Johannesburg to impose their “free market” globalization agenda on the summit. They are pushing for the compulsory implementation of the free trade regime that favors the imperialist countries but for voluntary compliance with any measure that might be prescribed to protect the environment and alleviate poverty.
The imperialist countries are most responsible for the degradation of the world’s environment and wasteful consumption of the world’s resources.
Union Carbide, a giant chemical firm, was responsible for one of the world’s worst environmental disasters that happened in Bhopal, India where over half a million people were exposed to lethal gases that leaked from its pesticide factory. Over 20,000 people have died since then and over 150,000 of the survivors remain chronically ill with about 30 persons dying every month nearly 18 years after the disaster. Dow Chemical the largest chemical corporation in the world, which now owns Union Carbide, has refused to accept criminal liabilities. Ironically, the President of Dow Chemical, William Stavropoulos, is participating in the WSSD as a member of the executive committee of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
We have the science and technology to solve poverty and hunger in the world. But capitalism which puts profits before people prevents this from happening and is responsible for the great inequalities that exist in the world today.
Statistics show for example the stark inequality in consumption. Twenty percent of the world's people in the highest-income countries consume 86% of the world’s goods -- the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%.The richest fifth consume 45% of all meat and fish, 58% of total energy, 84% of all paper and so on. Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics--$2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide basic education for everyone in the world. Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream--$2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.
While leaders of the other imperialist powers under pressure from world public opinion are attending the WSSD and are expected to go through the motions of making loud promises about saving the environment and alleviating poverty, George W. Bush would not even bother obsessed as he is with his “war on terror”. While the attention of the world is on Johannesburg, Bush and his side-kick Cheney are going around rattling their saber and telling the world about their determination to rain bombs on Iraq.
We should tell these warmongers that their country is not only the biggest polluters and poisoners of the environment but has wrought the most devastation on this earth and the people of the world through its wars of aggression and intervention using the most sophisticated and destructive weapons of mass destruction.
Ten years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on environment and development, we find today the further degradation of the environment, worse poverty and greater inequalities. For the world’s poor, forums such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development cannot offer a long term solution vulnerable as they are to the manipulation and control of the powerful imperialist countries. At best, they serve as venues to expose the ills of the capitalist system and the need to create a better world. Sustainable human development is impossible under capitalism. #
International League of People’s Struggle
31 August 2002