By Khanyisile Msebenzi
In the space of two weeks we have had commemoration days that remind us about the pressure we humans have put the Earth under. We have had World Recycle Day, World Water day and this Saturday 30th March, we have Earth Hour.
Earth Hour is an international initiative to get the world talking about our connection to nature and why we need to take better care of nature. As the website says:
“We are the first generation to know that we are destroying our planet. And we are the last that can do anything about it”earthhour.org
This is a scary thought. If we don’t change our behaviours, we would be directly to blame by following generations for the destruction of the planet because once the planet changes it will be changed forever.
Earth Hour 2019 with its campaign ‘#Connect2Earth’ aims to build mass awareness on why nature is important and create an unstoppable movement for nature similar to when the world came together to tackle climate change.
How Are We Destroying Earth?
Everything on Earth is interconnected, every single organism matters to keep the whole planet healthy and thriving. Single-cell organisms that we can’t see with our naked eye matter and have an important role in keeping everything on Earth healthy. Yet, as humans we are conducting ourselves in a manner that is destroying many, many organisms and environments. We are over-fishing, we are over-farming, we are using too many toxic chemicals, we are de-foresting, we are causing the extinction of hundreds of species every year!
South Africa Is Not Immune
We are already feeling and experiencing the effects of our destroying Earth, climate change is being felt by everyone and is already having devastating effects on some communities. In South Africa we are also experiencing the effects of climate as weather patterns have changed and are affecting our ability to provide clean water for all citizens as well as food.
South Africa is already teetering on the edge of climate change, our country is arid and semi-arid, and the areas that grow food are just suitable enough and get just enough water in good rain years. A slight change in weather patterns could have devastating effects for food security and the economy.
On a daily basis and individual basis we are destroying Earth by purchasing and using plastics that are polluting and strangulating nature. We are buying foods from companies that are using toxic chemicals, we are buying genetically modified foods that destroy natural environments, we buy foods that require too much water, we buy foods like meat, especially beef, which is causing mass deforestation. We drive cars and use transport and fueling systems that cause too much pollution. We are not questioning corporates and governments on why they aren’t doing better. We are all contributing to destroying Earth and we all, each and every person can do something differently to cause less destruction to the planet.
See here for our easy suggestions on using less plastic for instance.
We Will Be The Biggest Losers
There is nothing special about humans in the grander scheme. We may be the most intelligent species on this planet right now but the planet has restarted itself before and it will restart itself if we don’t start treating it better. Think about the ice age and the age of dinosaurs. There have already been 5 mass extinctions on our planet, where life almost perished and had to start all over again. Although the Earth suffers she is much stronger than us, she can start over and create a suitable environment for new life to flourish. So it’s not really about Earth, it’s about the human species, if we don’t change how we do things we will cause our own extinction, and this is something that can happen as soon as in the next two or three generations, our damage to nature and Earth will be irreversible.
Earth Hour is about making ourselves conscious, and everyone around us, to start being activists to save the planet and save ourselves. A start is to join everyone and switch off all electricals for an hour on Saturday evening 30 March 20h30 – 21h30. It should be easy for us, we have just come from a bout of loadshedding that has been leaving us in the dark for hours.