Episode 9 – 29 June Recap of your favorite news bits!

Some “dirty” news! Did you know that some of the highest levels of poisonous gases in the air are found above Witbank, in Mpumalanga? Apparently the levels of chromium and barium were so high that an EU research team’s instruments was unable to take accurate measurements! The team spent two years gathering data from the coal-rich catchment area of the Olifants River to determine whether environmental and social offenses were taking place. Now yes, it’s great to know that the EU is taking environmental legislation, human rights and sustainable development very seriously, but it doesn’t really help the people living in Witbank!  Worst of all, the report said nothing about what was going to be done about these crazy high levels of heavy metals, which I just find unacceptable! Read more….

And I get the chance to boast about a friend of mine! Environmental campaigner Jonathan Deal was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in the fight against fracking in the Karoo. Each year, the Goldman Environmental Foundation selects grassroots activists from around the world to honour them for their work. With an individual cash prize of $150 000 (close on R1.5m), it is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism in the world. Some of you may remember that I covered the “Fracking” story in 50|50 last season.

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Fracking is a technique they use to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Environmental groups believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air. And Jonathan  has been fighting against fracking for years. Although he did succeed in securing a moratorium, it was lifted in September last year so I think this prize money will go a long way to help him continue appealing the issuing  of licenses.

“feel-good” story to share from the Karoo where CapeNature has acquired five farms to expand their nature reserve to over 215 thousand hectares.  This is great news for the leopards in the Klein Karoo because now they are able to roam unhindered for 300km! As the CapeNature ecologist said: “It’s quite incredible to think that a leopard can walk basically from Anysberg all the way to Baviaans without stopping.” The new reserve, called the Grand Canyon, was bought by the World Wide Fund for Nature SA.

I also came across this terrific blog that had me thinking all week and I’m sure Cole won’t mind me sharing it with you. Cole works at the Mkhuze Game Reserve where he spends a lot of time with their pack of African wild dogs. He was in his 4×4, just “hanging” with them and as each dog passed his window they each stopped and looked up at him and all he wanted to do at that moment was know what was going through their heads. The crazy thought stayed with him and the next morning he asked the conservation volunteers, “if you had one question for the Wild Dogs, what would it be”? One of the volunteers said she would ask how they feel about this big white thing with four wheels following them around every day. Another said she would ask what was their favourite food, and another brought up the topic pups and whether they are looking forward to the birth, which I thought was very sweet! I guess it’s natural for us humans to want a deeper connection to wild dogs because we already think we “know” what our pets are thinking – at least I do! Cole is right…. Imagine the breakthroughs we could make if we were allowed one question. Think how this could benefit us in defending Africa’s Wild Dog population. Or better yet, imagine if we could give the Wild Dogs’ one piece of advice. We could tell where there are potentially high snare areas. We could tell them a good place to den or perhaps tell them how to avoid areas with high predator activity?

I want to leave you with the message of the Dalai Lama  which he gave at an environmental summit in Portland, Oregon just a couple of days after the CO2 hit the 400 mark:  he asked the audience to imagine what the world would look like if each of the two billion people in India and China had a car  – just like the people in “so-called developed countries.” Just to find the space for so many cars would be difficult.   As the Dalai Lama says: “We must think about these problems that are coming; they are inevitable.” He was quick to focus on education as the only way to navigate the coming challenges.  He encouraged long-term thinking and said that this was the essence of being human beings. He felt the existing education system was not adequate as it’s very much oriented toward material values. “Just to think of yourself, is foolish, selfish,” he said. “One company, one family, one individual who always consumes – more greed, more greed more greed, regardless of other consequences – this is a mistake. Inner wealth – human affection, human friendship, these are the most important.”

Are there any specific topic/s you would like me to cover? Drop me a line!

And remember take care of the earth, and she will take care of you!