|Dark clouds gather over the fifth day of meetings in Durban South Africa, where the world's leaders met to discuss Climate Change.|
It became crystal clear to me on this project through Southern Africa that there is an urgency to stop the runaway greenhouse effect, a very real need that is having dire consequences for people across this region and the rest of the world. I have argued on this blog and in my writing for both Global Post and Link TV that one of the reasons we are in a downward economic spiral is because we are using our planet's resources unsustainably. Higher food prices, especially basic commodities like corn and wheat, mean less cash in the financial sector and less money everywhere to fuel further growth. Check out these well-made graphs tracking food prices worldwide. World corn and wheat prices have again shot up by 50% in the last half of 2011, and are higher now than in 2008, and this will again have a knock effect in virtually every part of our global economy.
In the project I spoke to Dr. Anthony Turton, an economist and water resource manager who looks at water and food security through the lense of National Security. This former secret service operative helped bring the ANC and and National Party together for a dialogue in the 1980s, and eventually helped unveil the new constitution in South Africa in 1994. He is not an environmentalist, but a realist who at one time received funding from the national and international security establishment to look at environmental problems as national security issues. He says "Our global economy is a subsidiary of our global ecosystem". When the ecosystem declines the economy will too, and it is my opinion -and many others that this is exactly what is happening right now.
Barring some game changing energy technology or a cataclysmic event in our personal, political or environmental horizon, it seems we are stuck with government inaction at the highest levels for the next twenty years at least. However, as I learned at COP17 and in my work, many people are already working across the world at changing the status quo from the bottom up. Small energy projects in places like Mozambique, China's emergence as a huge developer of green energy technologies, grassroots recycling movements, buying an electric car, these are all part of the way we can start to live sustainably with our planet today. It is obvious that we the people are the only ones who can make change happen now, and the sooner we get started the better.
|The Rooftop of the Re-Purpose Center in Durban. Cabbages and other foods complement local plants and a chessboard in this roof-top garden right in the center of the city.|
At the Repurpose Center in Durban a group of concerned citizens and architects got together with the city of Durban to help revitalize the city center, provide more jobs, and create rooftop gardens that preserve endemic South African plants while providing nutrition for underprivileged communities. This center is an example of exactly how grassroots movements can become mainstream and make a huge difference in their communities. With enough projects like this, humanity can learn to become better stewards of our environment, and create the changes that will make us all more healthy, happy and help us look after our global ecosystem -and in turn our economy.