Earth Summit 101

A Jedi’s primer to the meeting in Rio

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News flash: World leaders will gather in two short months at the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the future of the planet. You may have caught the news stories last week about President Obama’s failure to RSVP. You’re forgiven if you missed them. You’re not the only one who just said, “Earth Summit, what?”

But this is for real. And there are a few things that you, good Jedi knights, ought to know about it.

1. It’s kind of a big deal.

The Earth Summit, which comes along once every decade or two, is a chance for world leaders to sit down and consider where Spaceship Earth is headed, and whether we might be wise to chart a different course.

The original Earth Summit, held 40 years ago in Stockholm, Sweden, marked the first global effort to address the mess we humans were making of the planet. The second Earth Summit was held in Rio 20 years ago (which is why this year’s summit has been given the idiotic nickname “Rio+20”). That conference resulted in a major commitment to protect biological diversity and the climate change framework that led to the Kyoto Protocol.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.