Greed threatens environment - Tutu

2011-05-03 14:30
Desmond Tutu has given his support for Earth Hour. (AP)

Desmond Tutu has given his support for Earth Hour. (AP)

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Cape Town - Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has warned that greed is a serious threat to attempts to make progress in protecting the environment.

"Our desire to consume everything of value, to extract every precious stone, every drop of oil and every creature from the sea knows no bounds," said Tutu.

He was speaking at the celebration to mark 50 years in conservation for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and said that companies threaten future generations with a rush for short-term profit that has created an "environmental disaster".

"This quest for profit subverts our present and our future. There are too many people who are getting better and better at exploiting the environmental heritage which belongs to us all. We are not heading for an environmental disaster - we have already created one."

Tutu, who won a Nobel prize for peace, lamented the inequalities of modern society, with an increasing population that results in environmental damage.

Population growth

"We are meant to live in a world which we share, and we are meant to live as members of one family. And yet whenever we look around, isn't it devastating to see the inequities and levels of poverty?

"Our population is increasing, environmental degradation is increasing. How do we resolve these inequities when all we are told is growth, growth, growth?" said Tutu.

Some commentators have suggested that curbing human population growth is the best way to avert climate change, arguing that competition for resources puts more strain on the environment, but Tutu said that the earth could sustain people, but not greed.

"There is enough for everyone - but not enough for our greed," he said. "There's enough for us all to live a full life - so why do we want to destroy the only home we have?"

The WWF was founded in 1961 and in 1986 changed its focus from wildlife to wider issues of the environment and has been a persistent campaigner for more informed, sustainable environmental practices.

Recently, the organisation suggested that South Africans were not paying the true cost of water and the country should aim for 100% renewable energy within a few decades.

"When WWF was founded there were no ministers of the environment and no environmental treaties. Today such ministries are found in governments worldwide, and treaties are increasingly used to govern and protect the environment," said WWF International President Yolanda Kakabdse.

The organisation has the support of the Swiss government.

"The protection and sustainable use of natural resources is one of the most pressing issues today. Thanks to WWF we have learnt we have to take a holistic approach to the environment," said Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey.


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