UN Earth Summits: how the rot set in, by Aurélien Bernier (Le Monde diplomatique


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Black tide: cleansing a Brittany seashore after the sinking of the Torrey Canyon, March 1967

Philippe Le Tellier · Paris Match · Getty

In 1967 Sweden proposed a world convention on the atmosphere to the United Nations. Although the chilly struggle was then the all-consuming subject, industrialised nations have been beginning to focus on environmental points in a public well being context.

Within the mid-Nineteen Fifties a critical neurological dysfunction had began affecting the fishing communities of Minamata Bay in Japan. It took scientists till 1959 to find out the trigger: mercury discharged from a close-by chemical plant that solely closed two years later. On 18 March 1967 the supertanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off the Scilly Isles (UK), inflicting an enormous oil spill on the French and British coasts.

In the meantime, books on environmental points have been receiving unprecedented media consideration in america. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) condemned intensive farming practices and using pesticides, demonstrating their impression on wildlife, particularly birds. Barry Commoner’s Science and Survival (1966) warned of the environmental impression of some fashionable industrial applied sciences and of fallout from nuclear bomb assessments.

The UN’s ‘atmosphere and improvement’ convention, the primary in a collection of what at the moment are often known as Earth Summits, took over 4 years to organise. The duty was entrusted to Maurice Sturdy, a well known Canadian oil and mineral businessman who grew to become administrator of the Rockefeller Basis in 1971 however was involved about environmental points: Sturdy and some different industrial capitalists noticed air pollution and the exhaustion of pure sources as a risk to the world financial system.

Geopolitical elements sophisticated the planning. Japanese Bloc nations have been concerned within the discussions however withdrew when the UN invited West however not East Germany to the summit (neither state was a UN member till 1973). In the end, debate was formed by the North-South divide: with many former colonies having solely just lately gained their independence and the chilly struggle spreading to the worldwide South, (…)

Full article: 2 466 phrases.

(1‘Report of the United Nations Convention on the Human Atmosphere, Stockholm, 5-16 June 1972’, United Nations, New York, 1973.

(2‘The State of the Atmosphere 1972-1982’, UNEP, Nairobi, 1982.

(3‘Report of the United Nations Convention on Atmosphere and Growth, Rio de

Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992’, United Nations, New York, 1993.

(5‘The Founex report on improvement and atmosphere’, Founex, Switzerland, 4-12 June 1971.

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