By Hannah Miller
June 20, 2012
The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is an instantly assembled city of 50,000 of the most environmentally attuned members of our species. It is clumped by institutional affiliation, political inflection, age, and profession, strewn about the vastness of the jungle mountain mega-city of Rio de Janeiro and, apparently, managed with the same techniques that the United Nations uses for refugee camps. This is not entirely inappropriate, because all environmentalists are refugees. All human beings are refugees, actually, but only environmentalists know it.
The Earth Summit is physically divided into two camps of white tents: There is the U.N. Summit, which is very removed from downtown and rigorously guarded a la District Nine, and the People’s Summit, which has more informal dress and little orange signs hanging from some of the trees that read AREA DE CONVIVIENCIA or “Area of Conviviality.”
Everything is here – dashikis, Pakistani cameramen, Wen Jia-Bao. Every language is here. Every monstrous accidental thing that human beings are doing to the soil or the frogs is documented in bad Powerpoints made by beautiful, fusty academics; and so is all the work that is being done to bring back the soil and the frogs … by German scientists who study Indonesian fishermen, Peruvian organic-farm economists, scientists and the skeptics, the international aid groups…