It is great to share the world with doers, and Greenpeace has done a great deal of good over the years in places like the Amazon, however I sometimes their own agenda seems to override their rationality, the recent Eskom take over being a case in point:
South Africa has two things in great supply: natural resources and unemployment. Coal mining is labour intensive and so it is natural that the government would want coal power stations, so long as we have it I’m sure they will continue to support that industry over more labour efficient power supplies, such as renewable power sources. It is a travesty of this world that all the alternative power sources share this labour efficient trait, but one that Greenpeace must remain cognitive of. We should be using the wind and solar more, and I have every belief that we will in the future, but until we have no option but to use these power sources the government will in all likelihood create jobs over being as environmentally as Greenpeace would like it to be.
Like unions, Greenpeace would rather make a big show decrying what they see as wrong, rather than getting involved in solving these problems at the coal face, as it were: the community that works for the coal mines also live near it, and survives off it, both through employment and though the use of coal in their homes. According to studies by UCT and Wits the smoke generated by this inefficient heat source in their homes is a larger health hazard than the much larger but more efficient power stations that they work for.
If Greenpeace really wanted to help solve this problem they would be having petitions signed and have research conducted, then submit these documents to the appropriate authorities, then publicising the facts for all to see. This must be complimented with a solution to the unemployment the closed coal mines would cause, because wind and solar won’t create the same amount of jobs that would be lost, well not in this country or in that labour sector.
While dealing with the source of their grievances they could then get involved in a far more boring, less public but most important problem that they are trying to address: improving the quality of life for the people living in the affected areas, by helping them use healthier heating and cooking solutions in their homes, such as electricity, or Jiko stoves. They could help people build houses that are both ventilated and insulated, and educate them on how to live healthier lives. Will Greenpeace become famous like this? No, but then Mother Teresa didn’t seek fame, but famine prevention.
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