''Don't curse the darkness, light a candle.''

Einstein said, 'You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.'

WHY WAS "MESSENGERS" CREATED?

People live within the limits that they set themselves. The Johannesburg Earth Summit is a chance to break those boundaries and protect the most important thing on this planet: the planet itself.

The Messengers campaign aims to challenge people's perspectives on sustainability and development. Both the Messengers and the Earth Summit are not about environment versus development or ecology versus economy. Contrary to popular belief, these issues are not mutually exclusive and the Earth Summit is about finding solutions to ensure that there is a positive correlation between the two.

Some people will think that it is na´ve of a young girl to think that she could have any impact on such issues and that it is na´ve to think that this planet can function any other way. I wish to question their definition of naivety. To me, it seems na´ve to carry on the way we are when it is estimated that in 25 years two thirds of the world's population will be suffering from extreme water shortages.
To me, it seems na´ve to carry on the way we are when human activity has destroyed almost one third of the world's national wealth.
To me, it seems na´ve to carry on the way we are when it is estimated that between one third and two thirds of the whole world's plant and animal species will be lost in the second half of the next century.


Am I truly blind when I see that we can and must put the environment on the international agenda in order to make this world a better place? Read any newspaper, watch any news programme, look around you and you will see that there are fundamental problems with our world today. The evidence is everywhere. Think about what is happening while you read this article now. As you read this, one billion people are going hungry. One quarter of the world's population does not have enough clean water to drink. For every second that you spend reading this two US football pitches worth of rainforest are destroyed.

Yet, while these problems occur, whilst we know that fossil fuels are running out and simultaneously warming our planet, 95% of the world's energy is obtained from the burning of fossil fuels and during the 1990s the World Bank subsidised fossil energy seven times as much as renewable energy projects. Even the Johannesburg Earth Summit will produce 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases. It is therefore imperative that the Summit is productive and that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that at the next summit there will be alternative, economically viable energy sources available to support it.

Yet the Messengers campaign is not supposed to focus on the negative, it is supposed to focus on the potential. Globalisation has been responsible for a deterioration in many people's quality of life, yet I believe it has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to everyone if harnessed in the correct way. The environment is, after all, a truly global issue; no country can insulate itself from the actions of its neighbours. The environment is a global responsibility yet governments today focus on a national rather than a global scale. If people realised that their national bonds, although important, come second to their global bonds the world would be a better place. The bonds that matter to people should not be so much that they are French, Indian, English, African or American, but that they are all human. We are all equal in the flow of radiation, whether you are a homeless person or Bill Gates. In the face of famine and flooding, in the path of disease and poverty, all humans are equal. You cannot, after all, eat and breathe paper bank notes. As (some person who I can't remember the name of but will find out the name of) once said, 'I am I plus my surroundings and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.' It is clear that we cannot keep blindly following this path without stumbling. The path we have taken has meant that the income gap between the top and bottom fifth of the world's population has jumped from thirty to one in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1997. According to Renato Ruggiero, former director of the WTO, the path that we have taken has resulted in 'developing countries losing seven hundred billion dollars annually in earnings due to trade barriers of industrial countries'. If we follow this path the demand for water in India will be 50% more than the available sources by 2025.

These facts that might cause you to gasp and then dismiss now are the facts that we, the next generation, will have to live with, the problems that we will inherit. Now is the time to follow a new path. Now is the time to admit that there are fundamental problems with the world that we live in. Now is the time for everyone to come together as equals and write a new and more hopeful chapter in natural and human history for our children, and our children's children.

Now is the time to take it to Johannesburg.