I think I’m burned out on Rio+20 already

The giant, carnivalesque global environmental summit Rio+20 started rolling this weekend and the official, high-level talks start tomorrow.

Unless you’re really following environmental affairs, this grand meeting may not even hit on your radar. And, to be honest, it probably shouldn’t.

It seems much of the environmental community has low expectations for this year’s conference. Environmental problems are as intractable as ever. Nations continue to struggle with economic matters.

As the name implies, Rio+20 is part-anniversary, part-debrief, part-”let’s find a way forward” from the landmark 1992 Rio Earth Summit officially known as the the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. Certainly in the last 20 years there have been successes, particularly at the local and national level, but on the international stage, collective action on the environment has largely been ineffective (and I’m being kind).

Though I wish it were otherwise, I don’t have much faith in the international system. Certainly I think attempts to workout problems collectively are necessary and applaud people who will spin their wheels and beat their heads against walls. But I see fundamental flaws as well. The system is broken and it seems to like it that way.

So Rio+20 will likely be all show with a rather weak finish. Sunita Narain, head of the Centre for Environment and Science, has a salient commentary in the centre’s magazine Down to Earth.

But, truth be told, I’m already burnt out on trying to monitor Rio+20 from India. My own thoughts are below:

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A plea from the uninsured…

Today, in Washington, D.C., on the floor of the chamber of the U.S. House, your elected officials will tilt on the topic of health care. This is being billed as a marquee showdown, an epic vote.

I’ve read through parts and summaries of reports from the Congressional Budget Office and followed the big news outlets now and then, but I can’t claim to have been very diligent. I also will note that this blog is mostly a-political. After the better part of four years as a political reporter, I find politics vital but bluster and bombast all the same.

But I will offer a personal plea now for calm, cool reason. And for compassion. And for common sense, which tells us the system is broken for more than 30 million Americans, myself included.

I will try to be brief:

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