Twenty years ago the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro marked the ascension of environmentalism as a political force in international affairs. That conference in 1992 produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. At the time, Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute crowed, “You cannot go to any corner of the globe and not find some degree of environmental awareness and some amount of environmental politics.” Flavin added that with socialism in disrepute, environmentalism is now the “most powerful political ideal today.” At the conclusion of the Rio +20 Earth Summit, it is clear that that is no longer so.
The largest United Nations conference ever—featuring more than 50,000 participants from 188 nations —was a flop. For most of the environmentalist ideologues at the Rio +20 conference the only question was whether it was a “hoax” or a “failure.” Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking preferred "hoax" while "failure" was Greenpeace spokesperson Kumi Naidoo’s dismissive term.
Looking back the failure of environmentalism as an ideology looks inevitable since has misconstrued the causes of many of the problems to which it claims to have a solution. At the close of the Rio +20 Earth Summit last Friday, environmentalism reached its highwater mark and is now ebbing as a political force internationally. It will be interesting to see in which direction those cherishing a permanent animus against democratic capitalism will go.