End in sight, warns EL na­ture ac­tivist

Daily Dispatch - - Life Style - TED KEENAN

“Look into your child’s eyes.”

At the re­cent Daily Dis­patch Afe­sis Pub­lic Di­a­logue Antonio “Toni” Tonin, an East Lon­don oc­to­ge­nar­ian en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist, hi­jacked the de­bate’s ques­tion ses­sion, and ap­pealed to both speak­ers and au­di­ence to take off their blink­ers and ac­knowl­edge that hu­mans had to re­think how they treated the en­vi­ron­ment, or “or the end is al­most in sight”.

He was ad­dress­ing guests Aubrey Mat­shiqi, Fe­rial Haf­fa­jee, Ebrahim Fakir, and Daily Dis­patch ed­i­tor Sibu­siso Ng­wala.

The ap­plause in­di­cated the im­pact of his mes­sage.

“As a pas­sion­ate observer of the hu­man race’s re­la­tion­ship to its en­vi­ron­ment for the last 65 years, the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing world lead­ers, has lost re­spect for our planet, and its nat­u­ral re­sources.”

Tonin is in his 80s, yet he spends his re­main­ing time as na­ture’s cru­sader, pas­sion­ately driv­ing his quest to make a dif­fer­ence, and goad­ing oth­ers to do like­wise.

“There are fi­nite re­sources,” he said, “and if we keep de­stroy­ing them at the cur­rent rate our chil­dren’s’ chil­dren will live on a grey, dead planet un­recog­nis­able to us. Cli­mate change sci­en­tists warn that the an­tic­i­pated cat­a­strophic 0.5°C av­er­age tem­per­a­ture in­crease, with the as­so­ci­ated dis­as­ters of melt­ing ice­bergs, in­creased de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and mas­sive storms, will be on us in 12 years, if we don’t do some­thing dras­tic,” he said.

Tonin says he tells any­one will­ing to lis­ten that they should look into their chil­dren’s eyes, and tell them, that as par­ents, they stood back and al­lowed it to hap­pen.

“Use of nat­u­ral re­sources has tripled in 40 years. Oceanic dead zones have quadru­pled in 60 years. Even with the ba­sic pho­to­graphic proof, such as glaciers shrink­ing, the mes­sage does not get across.

“The planet is dy­ing. By 2050, there will be two or three bil­lion more peo­ple. It’s com­mon sense that mass star­va­tion is around the cor­ner.”

His re­search re­veals that wa­ter in the ma­jor food pro­duc­ing ar­eas is be­ing used at 50 times its recharge rate. How­ever, to keep pace with food de­mand, farm­ers in south Asia ex­pect to use be­tween 80 and 200% more wa­ter by the year 2050. “Where will it come from?”

Tonin can be, by his own ad­mis­sion, ex­tremely stub­born.

So a bush­pig dis­cov­ered in 1985 when, out on a hike, he was at­tacked by one weigh­ing 60kg.

“I wres­tled it, and it ripped my arms to pieces. I thought I was go­ing to die.

“My shouts alerted a hiker, who man­aged to shoot it.

“I don’t give up, es­pe­cially when fight­ing for the planet.

“I owe that to the chil­dren,” the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist said.

Pic­ture: TED KEENAN

DIRE TIMES: Na­ture ac­tivist Antonio Tonin warns that mass star­va­tion could oc­cur by 2050.

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