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Environmental Matters: Working Together Saving Tomorrow Today

Climate change is such a huge issue that it requires strong, concerted, consistent and enduring action by governments – Peter Garret.

Picture appropriated from ZMEscience.com

If you are one of those individuals who really cares about what is going on in the world, you would know that the blogpost title comes from a slogan of the biggest climate change conference which starts on Monday in Durban, COP17/CMP7. Dear reader, let me take a liberty of shedding a light on what this conference is and what informed its inception. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, the parties being the 195 nations that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. UNFCCC is convention that was conceived in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. At that time, world leaders met in Rio, under the UN, to rethink economic development and find a path that would address the issue of climate change and environmental sustainability.

Few days ago, on my facebook page I asked who is this celebrity guy much anticipated by Durbanites called COP17/CMP7? The response to the question was negative – if there was one at all. It became apparent to me after such a reluctant participation on that status update that my generation is becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Oh yeah, we buy our drinking water in bottles. We litter. We do not recycle nor reuse papers. We print emails. We eat genetically modified organisms. and yet we are generation that is supposed to be well-informed because of the resource we poses in the form of internet and smartphones. In all those acts I have mentioned, I am embarrassed to state that I am guilty as charged.

For many young people the subject of climate change is relatively new and to a large extent its relevance is not clearly understood. Whether young people are apathetic when it comes to such issues is a different story, what is needed is the awareness on this topic. Our Universities and residences can play a significant role in continuing the discourse on climate change long after the COP 7 conference has ended.

Environmental experts and activists say that climate change promises threat of varying magnitude to the planet earth. At the same conference in 1992, in Rio De Janeiro, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, an environmental activist delivered a speech on climate change from a perspective of a teenager. She was 12 at the time and at age 9 she had founded the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues. The video summarizes the dangers of climate change so profoundly that it went viral with well over 8 million hits.

In her address she told the delegates that:

“I am only a child Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words.”

Watch this video, and be informed on matters affecting the environment. The video quality is not that good but the message is of top-notch quality.

To echo her sentiments, the challenges are great, but if we accept individual responsibility and make sustainable choices, we will rise to the challenges, and we will become part of the positive tide of change.

Let us treat the environment with harmony, dignity and tranquility which it deserves.

Source:  Time Magazine, UNFCCC, COP17/CMP7 conference website, Wikepedia, News 24.

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Politics, Uncategorized

 

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My South Africa

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Free .

By the power that might be, what will happen if South Africans can take diversity as a point of departure? I mean we need to start embracing diversity as a solution to real problems (more about that in future articles). Oh thanks to South Africans such as Prof Jonathan Jansen, who despite all the odds see all the beauty in this country.

He wrote a very moving article about South Africa. here’s  to me, sharing a thought-changing article……Enjoy.

My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker’s children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.

My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them – with the permission of the givers – to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer’s wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.

My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentleman’s game. It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighters outside his home.

My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery. It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the ‘Prime Evil’ in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.

My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school everyday, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.

My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kennilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.

My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country whose deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o’-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.

Source: This article first appeared in the January issue of Mango Juice, an in-flight Magazine.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in General, Leadership

 

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