A climate for success

2008-10-01 08:53
Michelle Garforth

As a conservation journalist, wild spaces and the creatures that inhabit them is the backdrop for my daily bush office, where I'm invited to observe the intimate governance and function of their eco-systems.

On the surface, it all seems to function rather well, as we take an annual vacation to the bush or a coastal resort, spending a week viewing large mammals, birds a twitter in their wetland habitats and watching dolphins surf the KwaZulu-Natal coastal warm waves.

Game rangers, veterinarians and dedicated volunteers appear to have it all under good conservation control, managing species population numbers through culling, cleaning penguins after oil spills; re-locating Ox-Pecker birds to KZN after numbers were depleted due to chemical intakes of cattle dip and surgically removing plastic from turtle's stomachs to prevent their death.

What must be noted is that the majority of these animal catastrophes are taking place due to human interference, be it through development and loss of wild habitat, never-ending pollution, litter and acid rain generated through carbon emissions.

We are responsible for most of the global warming effects observed over the past 50 years.

A carbon footprint is the environmental impact each human has - and it is measured in hectares. In the West our carbon footprint is now 22 hectares per person. The Earth's capacity is just 16 hectares per person! Makes you think.

A direct result, are disappearing animal population numbers and species becoming extinct on our watch. South Africa has had five species of frogs go extinct in the past eight years and considering frogs are indicator species as to the health of an eco-system, I am concerned.

Our amphibian friends are literally croaking to tell us something. Frogs breathe through their skins and the mucous mucosa of their mouths, making them susceptible to pollution in the waterways and wetlands.

Green problem solving

There are only 480 breeding pairs of Wattled Crane left in our wild wetlands - a cousin to South Africa's national bird, the Blue Crane, we should be sitting up and asking how we can limit our unsustainable flow of waste into their habitats. The list of effected species is endless.

Often the man in the street does not hear about the intense, micro-management, conservationists are striving to achieve, in an attempt to retain some semblance of a natural balance.

Of late, the mainstream press in South Africa has sporadically been reporting on various "green" stories. In my opinion, we are not nearly where we should be, but it is reassuring to know that we are certainly moving in that direction.

The fact that the climate on our Planet is changing is not a new concept.

So why should South Africans really be concerned about living a lifestyle that is a deeper shade of green?

For starters the developed countries got it wrong. Developing countries are afforded the opportunity to get it right. The continued snowballing use of natural resources, land and energy, how we travel, how we work, where we live, what we eat are all up for grabs.

May this blueprint of sustainable living be the proud stamp South Africa makes on the Planet. South Africans are the leaders on the African continent, often producing concepts and innovations that other African nations take their lead from.

South Africa should become a leader on green problem solving. There are many small business opportunities available to South Africans, concerning green living initiatives and small businesses are indeed the backbone of our nation.


South Africa's wetlands and wild spaces are vital to preserve as tourism is a major economic contributor - with internationals travelling here to view our unique biospheres and fauna. The Tourism industry sustains many small rural communities alongside Reserves.

Sustainable living in the 21 Century is the successful marriage of Technology's Benefits and the healthy Respect for Mother Nature. If we continue to hurt Mother Nature, we destroy our future life-support system. This is one riddle mankind must solve, finding a harmonious way of living with our Planet.

Climate Change is a planetary issue - and solving the problem connects all humans across racial and cultural barriers.

It is simple to be greener. In fact many rural South Africans are already living a "lighter shade of green".

Each of us just needs to consume less. If we do, we cut back on man-made chemicals that sustain modern life, but pollute the only things that we need: Air; Water; Soil; Food; Healthy bodies.

We should urgently take responsibility and embrace the simple tips that will show Mother Nature a bit of Respect.

  • Michelle Garforth is a highly respected international TV anchor, producer and journalist.

    Send your comments to Michelle.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

  • Join the conversation!

    24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

    We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
    Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

    AB praises selfless skipper

    2010-11-21 18:15

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Inside News24

    Traffic Alerts
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


    Create Profile

    Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

    Please provide a username for your profile page:

    This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


    Location Settings

    News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

    Facebook Sign-In

    Hi News addict,

    Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

    Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.