20 years ago, the ecological crisis was already quite evident. Enough for world leaders to worry about it, and to call for a global “Earth Summit”.

At the time, humanity yearly consumed resources and caused pollution at a rate that Nature could regenerate in approximately one year time. But it was clear that this rate was growing. The environmental crisis was growing and the unsustainability of the (even then) current way of life was obvious.

The response of the Earth Summit in Rio (1992), was the launching of the concept of “sustainable development”. The concept was based on three “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars”: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. The basic idea was that the three are compatible, and that there does not need to be a contradiction between economic development and protection of the environment.

Evaluating the “pilars”

20 years is quite some time to see if a proposed scheme works, so, time for an evaluation of the evolution of the three interdependent pillars:

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When explaining a certain sensitive issue to their children, many parents start explaining the story of the birds and the bees. It seems this makes things less embarrassing and less difficult.

Well, today the world faces a very embarrassing and a very difficult issue: the green economy. And indeed, the easy way to understand it is through the birds and the bees!

The green economy is all about putting a price and selling ‘ecosystem services’. Everything Nature does for humanity has a benefit, and should be priced in order to be protected. To come back to the birds and the bees: the birds feed themselves mostly with insects, without them the world would be plagued by so many insects we could not live quietly. In fact the birds play many roles: as predators, pollinators, seed dispersers, seed predators, etc.

The bees are even more important: they assure the pollination of at least one third of all the food production. Without bees, no pollination, and no food.

So, humanity has to be very thankful to the birds and the bees. But according to the green economy promoters, this thankfulness must be expressed in monetary terms. More »