As I sit down to write what should be the most current-news-relevant article of this month's Worldwatch Institute newsletter, I am mostly struck with an overwhelming sense of dread that I am in over my head. It is as if a team mate has struck the perfect corner kick, and I need only deflect the ball off my head and into the goal, but somehow find myself lost, at the halfway line, and facing the wrong direction. Alas, I should stop volunteering good ideas on the eve of pressing deadlines, especially when there are football games to be watched.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is touted as being the greenest and most sustainable in history, with the final to be powered by solar energy. Indeed, the sustainability program is both formidable and impressive, at least on paper. A quick perusal of the official World Cup website's section on sustainability reveals that considerable effort has gone into at least the outward appearance of sustainability.

Of course, everything is not all right in Brazil, where the population struggles with extreme poverty and inequality, made all the more stark in contrast to the lavish stadium facilities which have been erected within a stone's throw of the favelas. This is to say nothing of the enormous profit that (non-profit organisation) FIFA itself extracts from tournament while simultaneously leveraging their negotiating power to get tax breaks (they pay almost no taxes on the money they earn in Brazil), as well as changing the nation's very laws to accommodate sponsors (prior to the World Cup, the consumption of alcohol in stadiums was not permitted for safety reasons).

But surely a small amount of bad (or even a large amount of it) shouldn't detract from the progressive steps made in the name of sustainability and environmental conservation. You've got to take the good with the bad, right? At this point, I am reminded of a rather nice quote from Øystein Dahle at Worldwatch Institute's own State of the World launch in 2012: "Climate change is not the problem - the planet has a fever - it is merely a symptom of a bigger problem". Looking at it in this light, FIFA's sustainability solutions seem much more like band-aids than real long-term fixes.

By focussing too much on sustainability for the international stage in the narrow context of the World Cup, Brazil has ignored enormous problems on its own home front. 'So what' if the World Cup is sustainable and solar-powered? It only lasts for a month. The legacy it will leave will be the ultimate badge of dishonour signifying our continuing inability to step back from our small bubbles of attention and influence to see the bigger picture and to do the right thing for everyone, and not just some arbitrary division of 'us' (vs 'them').

Undoubtedly the team that will eventually lift the trophy will consist of a group of extremely talented footballers, but I would bet that it won't be a team composed entirely of forwards, or of goalkeepers for that matter. It will be composed of a team in which every player plays his part for the benefit of the team. A team in which no player decides that they don't want to play all of a sudden, and certainly where no player decides to go against their own team (and in the context of this metaphor, the Brazilian team's own goal in the opening game is perhaps worrying sign). For a team to be successful, they must all at least be on the same page. The protestors marching down the streets of Brazil are unequivocal evidence that humanity is unfortunately not yet on the same page - not everyone on team Brazil gets to have possession in the game, it seems.

From a young age, we are taught that competition is good, and to a certain extent, it is. We play sport, and through competition with others, we are pushed to become better. In the grown-up world of careers, we are constantly competing with others and if we do well, we are rewarded with status and riches, much in the way that animals and plants are rewarded with food and being able to pass on their genes. However, I fear that we have become so caught up in our own small bubbles of competition, that we have unknowingly turned it into a competition to consume all of the earth's resources the quickest.

In 2007 I visited Brazil for the first time, and while I was there, I attended a football match between Flamenco and Botafogo at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio. While it is well-known that the Brazilians love their football, I was surprised at how poorly each of the teams played. Each individual player possessed a great deal of skill, but as the clock slowly wound down, they each held the ball for a little too long, and tried to do a little too much on their own. What inevitably followed were embarrassing misses and tactical errors. You see - individuals each striving for their own selfish goals doesn't get you very far, and can bring you into conflict with the overarching goal of the team. It's about time we grew up and learned to do our part, because we are all members of team earth, and we all share the same goal of survival - as a team, and we must do it fast - the clock is winding down.