67 environmental minutes

Want to spend your 67 minutes for Mandela Day doing something that is more environmentally minded? Here are some ideas:

  • Pick up litter. No need to go anywhere special – start right outside your own house.
  • Calculate your carbon footprint and then buy a tree (or two) from either Greenpop or Food & Trees for Africa while you plan how you’re going to reduce your footprint.
  • Install a low-flow shower head if your shower doesn’t yet have one. It’ll save you both water AND money.
  • If you don’t already have a separate bin for your recyclables, now is the time to get one and find a spot in your kitchen for it.
  • Go through your bathroom cupboard and get rid of anything that has microbeads in it, and then promise to not buy any more. 
  • Do an audit in your kitchen to see how many single-use plastic items you use – sandwich bags, clingfilm, straws etc. Figure out how you can swop them out for something better.
  • Plant a herb or vegetable as the start of a journey in growing your own food.
  • Buy yourself a reusable coffee cup and/or water bottle to use instead of takeaway cups or plastic bottles.
  • If you aren’t using energy-saving light bulbs then you definitely need to use this time to change them. This is a must.
  • Go for a walk around your neighbourhood and appreciate the world around you instead of heading to the shops and buying ‘things’. 

What am I going to do I hear you ask?
Well, we did spend 2 hours in the river this past Sunday and brought out 4.5 black bags of trash… and we’ll probably do it again this Sunday, so I will consider that my 67 (plus a bit) minutes.

Do you have any other ideas? Are you doing anything environmentally focused? Let me know.

The solastalgia is strong with me right now

The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Eco-system Services) released a new report this week that apparently warns that “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.” *

Solastalgia (/ˌsɒləˈstældʒə/) is a neologism that describes a form of mental or existential distress caused by environmental change. Wikipedia

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t read it. 

I haven’t even read any articles relating to it.  

Yes, I’ve seen headlines and I’ve seen lots of alarmist tweets. 

I’ve also seen many environmentalists online bemoaning the fact that, on the day the report was released, the UK Royals had a baby and that made more news headlines than this report did even though the report is arguably far more important to people’s lives than a newborn child.

Those same environmentalists would probably put me in the same category as the rest of the disinterested and myopic average population, and on first appearances, I wouldn’t blame them.

Truth is that I’m too overwhelmed by it all. I already know that we’re wrecking the world and everything in it. I feel that I will descend into even greater depths of depression about it all if I really get into the facts that this report highlights. I don’t need the detail to confirm what I know – not right now anyway.

I’m sure I’ll get over this currently highly solastalgic phase and read the report plus news articles in due time. 

Just right now, for my sanity, I need to protect my brain. 

*Quote from: Smart Water Magazine article

Visualising overpopulation, overconsumption

The Global Population Speak Out site has a number of rather scary images showing the impacts of overpopulation on our world. I’ve picked just one below to share with you – the one showing our computer waste (it felt appropriate seen as I’m always behind a computer, as I’m sure many of you are too.) Go take a look at all the other pics/postcards and think carefully about your impact on this world.

Trashing-Planet-Computer-Dump

Quote of the day

“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” – Gus Speth

Via Common Cause on Facebook

Latest IPCC report out. And it’s bleak.

IPCC 2013 report The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released their latest and updated report about climate change yesterday.  Admittedly I haven’t read much in detail, having just skimmed over the headline and summary documents, but I find it bleak reading.

The primary take-out, and one which every climate change justice group worth it’s salt is talking about, is that it is “now 95 percent likely that human spewed heat-trapping gases — rather than natural variability — are the main cause of climate change.” (quote via: The Atlantic). I’m sure the climate change skeptics out there are fuming at this statement and trying desperately to discount this news and confuse the public as they’re so good at doing, but here’s a brilliant excerpt from the Climate Reality Project that I find completely indisputable. Continue reading “Latest IPCC report out. And it’s bleak.”

Learning…

Just a quick little post to say I’ve been learning lots of late, which is why I’ve been sort of neglecting my blog. 

I’ve been finishing off an updated version of the Greening your Business online course that I did last year, which includes more information about living sustainably, as well as started on an introductory course to Green Building.

Then, next week I’m doing WESSA’s “Understanding Environmental Impact Assessments” course. This should be rather interesting, particularly in light of my involvement with Friends of Rietfontein’s fight against the proposed K60 road, but also just in general to understand the process of EIAs.  (PS: big thanks to my parents who very kindly offered to pay for this course for me).

Will keep you updated.

My theory about “green jobs”

Green JobsThere was a great article in the Mail & Guardian last week about humanity’s long slow suicide under the guise of the green economy – you know, the one that is going to save us all while simultaneously providing lots of new jobs. It reminded me about a theory I have about this promise of jobs that the new green economy is supposedly going to bring us.

I was actually given pause to think about this very issue earlier this year when I was interviewed by Terra Firma and while I ventured some of my thoughts, I don’t think I articulated it clearly enough. So to clarify, here’s my theory as it stands right now…

I believe that the idea/hope/dream that the green economy is going to miraculously provide more jobs is misguided. Yes, it certainly will provide some “new” jobs – but they will be “new” as in new technologies, new skill sets, new approaches, new job descriptions – not “new” as in additional job opportunities.

If we are to look at the industries involved in the green economy we see that they are the very same industries that already exist – energy, agriculture, water, construction, strategy, policy, consulting, waste management etc. The green jobs that we need to build a sustainable economy are not new jobs, they are existing jobs but with new training, new ideas, new understandings.

It’s all about reskilling. Builders will still build, but now they have green criteria to build to. Energy suppliers will still provide energy, but will use renewable sources. Landscape designers will still make pretty gardens, but now they’ll be more aware about water-wise plants and permeable surfaces. Electricians and plumbers will also still do their thing, only now they will install solar power or grey-water systems.

I will concede that there might be some small growth in artisan trade – hands-on work done by people without degrees or even formal education (which is great news for a country like SA) – but I don’t believe these will make a blip on the radar of formal job creation as a whole.

We need to realise that sustainability (and therefore by association, the concept of a ‘green economy’) is not a completely separate “industry”. To see it that way is to show a complete misunderstanding about what sustainability actually is.

Image via…