An altogether strange week or so since my last post. The world seems to be descending into chaos, environmental disaster, racism and guilt.
KL was covered in smog a few days ago, and in places the pollution index exceeded safe limits. I hadn’t quite counted on this level of pollution when moving here. The air was thick and blue – from the condo window, downtown was totally obscured by a creeping menace – causing us to shut the windows and hunker down as if there were a plague coming. Indonesia is blamed for its slash and burn policies resulting in plumes of smoke towards Malaysia. Burning their pristine forest to make way for plantations of palm oil and cattle ranches is helping to prop up their economy, but boy those pesky Indonesians are a nuisance.
Rio+20, the circus-like summit of environmentalists, policy-makers, business leaders, media and oceans of hangers-on – all there to (erm…sip caipirinhas? watch the girls go by on Copacabana beach?) get a meaningful agreement on climate change and sustainable development – has unfortunately passed most people by and is already looking like a failure. Rio+20 as a news item is competing with the economic collapse of two of Europe’s proud nations, genocide in Syria and the football. With the Greeks and Spanish queuing up at soup kitchens, it’s not surprising that environmental austerity measures perceived to be curbing standards of living are seen as a bum note. The trade offs are short-sighted but it’s a reality we continue to fight against. Read the rest of this entry