These are photo’s taken by my father ,Robert Kingwill – who has farmed in the Karoo for 40 years. In the last few years, he has experienced unprecedented fires, floods, snowstorms and extreme weather. Look at what the floods did to the roads. No way round! My family were more isolated than ever. In the first picture a massive veld fire, which they had been fighting for days is jumping across the road.
As the weather gets stranger, and the predictions of the scientists who warned us about climate change start to take their cues and make their appearances in ways that affect our daily lives, one wonders if the leaders making the decisions to allow more pollution are getting uncomfortable? Or perhaps somehow they are not connecting the dots yet?
There are moments in time when the warning signs should not be ignored and when those moments coincide with massive global opportunities to do something about it, then the time for a big push out of complacency should be extra strong.
Not only is the weather strange – `I am sure I am not imagining that the sun shines with a new kind of dry, burning intensity on hot days… and is the wind is getting stronger? Or am I just getting older? Whichever it, is no one can deny that there has been another off-the- charts storm, which has killed an un-fathomable amount of people, and they seem to be happening more and more frequently. This time the Philippines is the crisis point, where the extra doctors and emergency supplies are being sent.
It is a bit overwhelming. One can just drink another coffee, and sigh… that luckily it’s over there, somewhere else. Or one can do what one would rather not have to do on top of the usual stresses and strains of daily life: take some personal responsibility. I know that’s asking a lot. But even when it’s over there, everything is connected. We are all connected, somehow, whether we like it or not, we are all affected. An injury to one is an injury to all. There are patterns of behaviour that we are all tied into one way or another, so acknowledging and taking responsibility for that would be a start to taking action towards a shift.
As we speak, there is an international conference taking place in Warsaw. It’s the 19th Conference of the Parties: (COP) meeting at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The leaders meeting there have the opportunity to do something radically to change the tide. They are holding our lives in their hands.
According to predictions 182 million South Africans will die prematurely during this centaury due to Climate Change. Not a very cheerful thought! In fact it’s terrifying, especially after seeing images of what the Philippines looks like after the storm hit.
What’s even less cheerful, is the fact that the South African minister of Environmental Affairs attending the conference in Poland this week, has had so many opportunities to change this outcome and at every turn, she has chosen to sign along the dotted line, giving the go-ahead for more carbon emissions to take place than ever before, for the sake of more money in the coffers, and possibly in her pocket. She seems to be like so many of us who are addicted to the comforts and conveniences of commercial escapism and collectable consumables, comfortably numb and in denial of the realities facing the people on the ground. (Well that’s how it looks from here.)
Prof. Patrick Bond– who is the author of “Politics of Climate Justice: Paralysis Above, Movement Below”, pointed out in an opinion piece in the Cape Times, that the above mentioned minister may have some trouble standing tall at the conference, specially in light of the fact that at an official pledge was made by our country some years back to cut carbon emissions radically by 2020, yet the actions and decisions our government is making for the sake of more money and “power” are leading to more and more emissions.
To list a few examples, he mentioned:
1. The government funded parastatal company that holds the monopoly on our power supply has been engaged in building not one, but two massive coal power stations which are still under construction with the budget of around R21 billion rands each. (They borrowed R38 bn from the world bank to do this, which caused such discomfort that even the U.S objected, and the president of the world bank Jim Yong Kim has since decided not to make financing available for this kind of polluting project ever again.)
2. The South African Government have agreed to build the worlds largest coal terminal at Richards bay to benefit 40 new coalmines, despite the health dangers to impoverished communities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Kwazulu Natal.
3. Our same minister – Edna Molewa of environmental affairs has also approved a licence for Coal of Africa’s Vele Mining project near Mapungubwe National Heritage site.
4. What’s more a large oil pipeline from South Durban to Johannesburg is under construction. (Much to the horror of the locals who are protesting it, due to its impact on their health when there are leaks. Asthma rates in South Durbs are shocking.)
5. And in spite of the slow roll out of renewable energy, our minister has agreed to allow companies such as Shell to Frack the ecologically sensitive, pristine Karoo for natural gas. The company may claim that emissions of Co2 will be curbed by natural gas, but research conducted with heat sensitive camera’s in the U.S.A have revealed that the pools of sludge and containers of chemical waste that is the by-product of the fracking and that are stored on site around the wells (are the Shell fracking promo guys wondering the Karoo informing the farms about that side of the story?) These reservoirs of chemical sludge- that they leave on the farmers land for years- give off massive Co2 emissions and the effects are devastating to human health, not to mention the way they scar the landscape and poison the precious water supply. (See Gasland- the documentary.)
Prof. Patrick Bond was one of the experts I interviewed for my documentary Buried in Earthskin. When I met him he had written at least 12 books, so by now the count is probably higher. He financial adviser to the ANC, in the days of “the struggle.” – A great mind and economist and widely respected. It is a pity that his warnings have not been heeded as he has been trying to warn the government for many years about so many highly risky short term gain-long term pain developements, to no avail. In the Cape Times, he pointed that South African industry is one of the worst polluters contributing to climate change.
Is our minister of environmental affairs aware of that as she attends the conference in Warsaw. Is she aware of what an important opportunity this is to save the world? Is she connecting the dots? But perhaps the passionate opening address of the Head of the Philippines Delegation- Sano Yeb Sano stirred something in her heart.
“So anyone outside” He challenged, “ who continues to deny and ignore the reality that is climate change, I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs. I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian Ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels, to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling sea ice sheets, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confront similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannahs of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the monster storms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Seaboard of North America, as well as the fires that razed Down Under. And if that is not enough, they may want to see what has happened to the Philippines now.”
He points out that as the Earth Warms up, more of these storms will take place and that the energy stored in the oceans will increase the intensity of typhoons – like the one his country and hometown had just experienced. This kind of thing will be come a way of life. He appealed to the world leaders begging them to take action; “We need an emergency climate pathway…” he said “we cannot solve climate change when we seek to spew more emissions. “
He explained that he had been waiting to hear from his own family, and so far had only spoken to his brother, who has not eaten for 3 days, due to food scarcity, and had been working day and night to help rescue others from the debris. Sano announced that during the summit, he would be commencing a hunger strike “until meaningful outcome is in sight. Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund as this process cannot afford a fourth COP in a row with the GCF empty. Until the promise of an operationalizsation of a loss and damage mechanism has been fulfilled: until there is assurance on finance for adaption: until we see real ambition on climate action in accordance with the principles of the convention…” He would starve until he saw these results.
“We can fix this,” he implored. “We can stop this madness. Right now. Right here, in the middle of this football field and we must stop moving the goalposts.” He exclaimed, aptly. “Let Poland be forever known as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness. If this is our imperative here in Warsaw, you can rely on my delegation. Can humanity rise to the occasion? I still believe we can.” He said. His speech was greeted by a standing ovation. I hope our South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa was listening. I hope she and her comrades will be moved to change their strategy at this momentous time. Will she realize that she holds so many lives in her hands, or will she remain blinkered by the push revenue (and all that stuff?)
And as we speak another very important opportunity is being missed, or should we say quietly sidelined: a new law that will make the South African energy grid open to independent service providers who may want to sell for example wind and solar power into the grid- has again been delayed.
In South Africa there is only one company that holds the power over our power grid. It is partially funded and owned by the government. If any independent power producer decides to build a wind farm or even generate extra energy by putting lots of solar panels on their property, they cannot sell the extra energy they do not use back into the grid with out paying feed in tariffs to Eskom, who control the grid, so this discourages renewable energy from becoming a viable business in SA, even though we are the perfect place for wind and solar power generation.
The company that controls our electricity supply has been focusing most of its time and energy on building large-scale coal and nuclear power plants to service industry, and the mines – although there are a few token wind and solar projects under construction (to keep the activists happy) However if the grid became an independent entity, and anyone could make a few extra bucks by selling their excess solar or wind energy back into the grid, we could slowly start cutting emissions. We could also make energy production a more community based project which would offer long term local jobs and income. (Which is always one of the false promise cards used for nuclear and fracking developements trying to win favour with the locals.)
Yet, for some reason the move to create this bill, named “The Independent System and Market Operator Bill” has been constantly held up and delayed. Lance Greyling, chief whip of the DA who has been an insider in the Cape Town Parliamentary scene for over a decade, says the bill has been removed from the debates schedule without consulting the portfolio committee on energy, where it was drafted last year and approved by the ANC (the Cape Times reported today in a small side column.) Greyling pointed out that Eskom has resisted this move for over a decade and the DA (Democratic Alliance) suspects that there has been ministerial interference in the processes of Parliament, to avoid Eskom relinquishing its control of the grid.
Okay so the opportunities are there for making the changes that could save us from living a hellish lifestyle, dodging devastating storms and extreme heat waves etc, which will cause the early deaths of millions in the future, but some people would rather just hold on to their power, no matter what. There is a big difference between external power and authentic power. External power is having power over others. And Authentic power is true personal power, which cannot be created through dishonest means.
Interestingly… Eskom has just been given a slap on the wrist for paying an independent spy company R10 million to spy on environmental organisations such as Earth Life Africa, Green Peace and Groundworks, who have been working to lobby against polluting developments such as coal and nuclear power plants in this country. I guess we always knew they were doing that, but at least now its out in the open, which is a good step in the right direction. They had to admit it and explain themselves. One step closer to transparency and accountability.
So back to that idea of taking responisibilty for whats happening on a personal level. I have just been reading this book called Zero Limits which explains the concept of clearing and cleaning old patterns of thought, which may on a level we don’t understand,be affecting our reality. Apart from cutting ones own personal carbon emissions in as many ways as possible, this mantra- declared to the divine matrix to clear the patterns of self-destruction causing humanity to destroy life on earth through selfish and fearful pursuits of power…
It does offer something simple one can do. It’s a bit like a prayer for the earth if applied to climate change.
The book describes a process called ho’oponona-an ancient Hawaiian healing method modernized and re-contextualized by a Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len .
The Wikipedia sums it up as follows: the main objective of hoʻoponopono is getting to “the state of Zero, where we would have zero limits. No memories. No identity.” To reach this state, which Len called ‘Self-I-Dentity’, one has to repeat constantly the mantra, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” It is based on Len’s idea of 100% responsibility, taking responsibility for everyone’s actions, not only for one’s own. If one would take complete responsibility for one’s life, then everything one sees, hears, tastes, touches, or in any way experiences would be one’s responsibility because it is in one’s life. The problem would not be with our external reality, it would be with ourselves. To change our reality, we would have to change ourselves. Total Responsibility, according to Hew Len, advocates that everything exists as a projection from inside the human being. As such, it is similar to the philosophy of solipsism, but differs in that it does not deny the reality of the consciousness of others. Instead, it views all consciousness as part of the whole, so using parts of the idea of holism: any error that a person clears in their own consciousness should be cleared for everyone. (See hononopono.org)
- Philippines delegate: We can fix climate (connecttheworld.blogs.cnn.com)
- Climate change worsening severe storm impact: UN (abc.net.au)
- COP19: report accuses sponsors of Warsaw climate conference of ‘greenwash’ (blueandgreentomorrow.com)
- Philipines envoy makes emotional plea to end climate change ‘madness’ (irishtimes.com)
- COP19: rich countries ‘have a moral responsibility’ to disaster-struck developing nations (blueandgreentomorrow.com)