Over 50,000 lawmakers will meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, this week. It marks the 20-year anniversary of the first Earth Summit. Topics will include ending fossil fuel subsidies, reducing plastics pollution in the oceans, and protecting ecosystems that risk extinction from population growth. A top concern is the preservation of the Amazon, threatened by Brazil's own government, which plans to build 60 damns in the country's backyard, including the $11 billion Belo Monte project. These environmental issues, however, are overshadowed by economic uncertainty and expectations remain low.
“The European Debt crisis, U.S. joblessness and even the Chinese economic slowdown has sapped some people’s enthusiasm,” said Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation.
As policymakers try to solve world poverty without exploiting the planet's resources, here's a telling infographic from Al Jazeera highlighting growing greenhouse gas emissions: