End in sight, warns EL nature activist
“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.
DIRE TIMES: Nature activist Antonio Tonin warns that mass starvation could occur by 2050.