When will we learn

It has often been said that those who don’t learn history, are doomed to repeat it. We as a species are currently on this path, we are destroying our future.

While walking along the coast in the Transkei I got to thinking again…….

I was marvelling at the rolling green hills coming down gently to greet the ocean. Smooth, covered in short grass. The local indigenous cattle scattered over the countryside, quietly grazing away. Small huts and villages dotted all over the landscape. Idyllic, peaceful, painted in bright colours. Pink, green, blue and yellow, almost as though the only paint available were in these four colours. The cattle lazing around on the beaches like lizards in the sun. The scene is stunning, unique.

Then it dawned on me, the trees and natural vegetation were absent. The population density high. Many of the slopes showing mass erosion. The landscape so different from what it should be. Historically, the area was heavily wooded with dense vegetation and indigenous forests. As I strolled along I noted the plastic trash accumulating on the high tide mark. As striking and beautiful as the scene was, it was also a sign post of destruction and pollution.

We as people, as a species are the most destructive creatures on earth. We are locusts, destroying everything in our path, consuming 100% of everything we touch. Global warming actually started in earnest at least five or six hundred years ago. It is entirely false to lay global warming at the feet of the industrial age. All across Europe there was a frenzy of cutting down the forests. During the medieval ages most of the forests across Europe were slashed and burned to create agriculture land. At the height of the great age of ship building, most of Europe’s forests were already gone. Competition rose to colonise new lands in order to rape them for their resources.

Wood being one of the primary resources. South Africa’s great forests were decimated during this time for England’s huge appetite for wood, in order to build ships, furniture, railways, mining, housing and finally fuel.

The discovery of oil and use of coal helped to accelerate global warming. The industrial revolution did not start the global warming trend, it just gave it the means to accelerate climatic change. The destruction of our forests was the single greatest contributor to global warming. Why are forests so crucial to this question of global warming?. For a start the forests act as a carbon sink, absorbing half the worlds CO2. The other half is locked in by the oceans of the world. CO2 contributes about 4% to the total green house gases, water vapour contributes over 90%. It does not take a genius to realize that even if we stop all CO2 production tomorrow, it would be impossible to stave off global warming. The critical key would be to stop clearing the forests and start re-establishing them.

Secondly, the forests act as a huge pump that drives the global weather systems. As the forests transpire and pump billions of litres into the atmosphere, they create clouds causing a temperature differential that drags moisture in from the sea. When the clouds become saturated, it rains, lowering the temperature and replenishing the water tables. Over the next several years this water heads back to the ocean. As the temperature rises again, so the pump goes into its next cycle. The thing that drives everything and makes all eco cycles work is the sun. It is the forests’ ability along with all other plant life to convert the sun into energy that drives our world.

Excess energy gets stored in fossil fuels. Not only have we stolen and destroyed our forests’ ability to convert energy, we have steadily depleted the excess reserve we had stored in fossil fuels. Nature works in complete cycles, always replenishing what she takes. We as a species have moved from an age where we were in sync with nature, never taking more than was absolutely necessary. We are now on a linear path steadily consuming absolutely everything that can be monetised. Like locusts we only move on when everything is destroyed.

Biofuel as an alternative is a farce. In order to plant these crops, we continue to destroy the forests in order to clear land for the biofuels. Already we are failing to feed the world, yet we are converting more food crops over to biofuels. In the process we are destroying the fertility of the soils as we deplete the micro nutrients. There is no cost effective method of producing synthetic fertilizers to compete with nature. Consider the number of products derived from the petro-chemical industry. Plastic is a major spin off of this industry and no part of our lives is left untainted by it. Fertilizers, crop chemicals, solvents, pesticides, paint, building materials and the list goes on. Too much of our economy is connected to oil, and money drives the world.

Nuclear energy is not the answer, it cannot be scaled cost effectively with our current technology. Nor have we discovered reliable methods to dispose of the radioactive waste. Wind-farming and solar are barely fee-sable as there returns are only marginal over the cost of production. When Governments roll out these figures, they bathe us in a lie. What is not factored into these equations is the full cost of production from mining the materials, to manufacturing the components. The cost in pollution, land degradation and water consumption is also not factored in. The cost of disposal once these products reach the end of there design life is also not taken into account. Very often this is dumped on some other poor nation.

When all is said and done, the western world is the worst environmental offender. The more affluent and industrially advanced a country is, the more it contributes to the destruction of the planet. The rest of the world pays the price. The easiest, fastest and most effective action we can take is the total cessation in consumption of all indigenous forests. An active drive financially incentivised to re-establish forests and natural woodlands. Our governments WILL NOT SOLVE THIS ISSUE, CORPORATES WILL NOT SOLVE THIS ISSUE. Capitalism is driven by greed and consumerism drives the quest for money.

Do not leave it to others to fix the problem, they won’t do it. The nature of modern economies means that “if it pays it stays, if its a loss pass on the cost”. We, you and I need to take a stand and RADICALLY reduce what we consume. If we refuse plastic bags, the market for them disappears. Only consume and buy what is necessary for your basic needs and well being. The next time you go out and have the urge to buy something, ask yourself one question. Do I really need this? If your answer is no or you are indifferent and you still purchase it, then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

I am not saying we must return to the stone-age, but we must for our own survival and the survival of our children and grand children reduce our consumer attitude from WANT to NEED.

I am reminded of the fate of Easter Island. When the Polynesians first arrived, they found an island covered in forests with rich organic soil. A veritable paradise. They cut down the trees to build, clear land, build sea going canoes to fish and create scaffolding in order to raise their monuments. To those people, the island was a closed microcosm of mother earth as they were confined to that island. With globalism we are in the same position today. They flourished for a time and the population increased, still they consumed more.

At some point the islanders would have realised that their resources had disappeared and no more would be forth coming as they could not get off the island. They knew that their existence was coming to an end, there was no other world to go to. Still they cut down the last tree, still they killed the last bird, still they raped the soil until they eventually became extinct. Did their leaders fix it, did their gods fix it?. Instead they blindly carried on knowing they would die. We are in the same position now, we have one world and we are killing it. Still we lay the problem at the feet of our governments.

When they came for the Jews I did nothing for I was not a Jew, when they came for the Muslims I did nothing for I was not a Muslim. When they came for the Christians, still I did nothing for I was not a Christian. When they came for me I cried in despair for there was no-one left to speak for me.”


2 Responses to “When will we learn

  • Anna Sekoto-Sacre
    8 months ago

    Wow! What a brave man you are Dean! Good job!
    I’ve been using jute bags for my shopping. It is depressing that we ‘re not all on the same page-saving our precious planet. Greed, irresponsibility and ignorance are truly deleterious. I totally agree with you, if we don’t change our attitudes towards making this planet a better, environmental-safe place, we’ll all end up in a pit of fire.
    Thanks for your touching, aspiring, informative, awakening, poetic, yet still vehemently entertaining and real articles!
    Good luck with your adventurous expeditions. Can’t wait to read more and follow you.

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