Planet can’t sustain people’s greed


“We have probed the earth, excavated it, burned it, ripped things from it, buried things in it, chopped down its forests, levelled its hills, muddied its waters and dirtied its air. That does not fit my definition of a good tenant. If we were here on a month-to-month basis, we would have been evicted long ago ”– Rose Bird, chief justice of California Supreme Court.

In my opinion in the influentia­l Frankfurte­r Allgemeine Zeitung in the 1980s, I pointed out that so-called first world countries criticise developing countries for the way they manage the environmen­t vis-à-vis the need for socioecono­mic wellbeing of human settlement­s. Sometimes tough choices have to be made to the detriment of the environmen­t. Europe and other developed countries made those choices centuries ago and destroyed forests and wildlife for “progress.”I challenged developed countries to put their money where their mouths are and, instead of criticisin­g from afar, to assist the countries that now have the same needs they had centuries ago.

I said it is particular­ly relevant, given how European and other countries had stripped Africa and the Americas from their natural resources – also because of the impact of climate change in which industrial­ised countries played a huge role. We are squanderin­g the heritage of future generation­s. Our planet can provide for our need, but not for our greed. We live as if there is no tomorrow.

Dawie Jacobs,Sterrewag

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