We can’t delay bid to save Earth

2008-03-30 00:00

The phenomenon of unintended consequences is as common as humankind’s proclivity for playing Russian roulette with the future of the Earth.

There are plenty of examples to illustrate the point, perhaps best articulated by the growing concern over the environmental and ecological threats facing humanity and the planet we call home. Much as some scientists point to conditions and circumstances beyond people’s influence as far as global warming is concerned, there is equally persuasive research that holds humanity accountable for climate change.

Make no mistake, plenty is being done to better understand mitigating processes and remediation measures across the globe. Volumes are being said and written on these subjects, with one central theme emerging — trust in the invincibility of science to solve the problem, or to at least make life bearable.

We wonder about this arrogance though, and not only because of its propensity for dumping the sins of fathers on future generations.

A drive to the Pietermaritzburg dump illustrates the point amply. Here we have a facility that daily receives tons of all sorts of discarded waste that is conveniently placed out of sight, unless one is resident in Sobantu, which boasts a panoramic view of the site.

Quite what legacy is being brewed in this generation’s filth is not clear, but already we sense a public comfort in talk about harnessing the methane, as if that would neutralise any possible future perils. Fact is, we just don’t know, and caught in the headlong rush for economic growth and development, we’re unlikely to do more than crisis manage circumstances as they happen upon us.

Consider the laudable efforts to plant trees, in their hundreds of thousands, as carbon sinks, as a means to absorb atmospheric CO2. This is a most inspiring picture, so much so that we forget to investigate the rest of the story.

Perhaps we should, not to rubbish carbon sinks, but as a criticism of peoples’ cowardice not to face the future with a conscience.

For instance, critics of sequestration claim that we’re laying traps for future generations. They doubt whether CO2 storage can really be made permanent, at a minimum for tens of thousands of years, and question the untested effects of slow leakage through soils and catastrophic leaks from pipelines.

They also want to know what happens to the stored carbon when trees are felled, and whether underground storage proposals are at all viable.

Not all is lost, though, if measures such as carbon capture are seen as a means towards an end, and not the end in itself.

Tackling our problems now should be the end we’re striving for if we don’t want the end of ourselves.

Ruffled feathers

Last week’s item about the Bill Barnes Crane and Oribi Sanctuary on the doorstep of Nottingham Road ruffled the feathers of several people involved with the rehabilitation and rescue of wild animals.

It was reported that legislation specifically prohibited the keeping of wild animals, even those ones unable to return to the wild. The correct version is that draft legislation pertaining to the keeping of non-releasable wild animals in captivity is provided for, but only under the most exceptional and stringent conditions. The proposed legislation is still being contested by breeders, rehabilitation workers and the like in what clearly is a highly emotive matter with far-reaching implications.

For a clearer understanding of the debate, pop in at crane and oribi sanctuary’s open day on Saturday, April 5. The sanctuary is on the western edge of Nottingham Road, near the Gowrie Estate.

Holiday frustration

One constituency not happy with Friday, May 2 being proclaimed a public holiday is the business community.

A statement by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry voiced its dissatisfaction and frustration at yet another disruption to productivity.

May 2 has been proclaimed in view of March 21 being a "double" public holiday — Good Friday and Human Rights Day.

Bloody plight

Blood stocks are desperately low, and one has to wonder about the heartlessness of a retail outlet at Liberty Midlands Mall that forced the blood service to move its station from the familiar Pick n Pay entrance to a makeshift site in the car park.

Notice of the unexpected change came via an SMS, and we understand that the move was prompted by a complaint from a shop.

It will please the outlet, then, to know that the team now taps about half the blood they did before, that conditions in the mobile unit are cramped, and that the staff deserve a medal for doing what they can under the most trying circumstances.

We also hope that the retail outlet’s owners don’t need blood in a hurry.

Pronel pummel

Let it not be said that Pronel doesn’t take the modern scourges of stress and depression seriously. Pronel staff are forcibly de-stressed by its in-house massage therapist who also outsources her services on site. At R100 for a 45-minute session, Busi’s expertise represents superb value. We know, and we’re going back soon for more of the same.

Phone Mandy on 033 345 7670 for an appointment.

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