Environmental Ponderings-20

Theme – Krantzkloof A Nature Reserve near Durban

“…As we distance ourselves further from the natural world, we are increasingly surrounded by and dependent on our own inventions. We become enslaved by the constant demands of technology created to serve us…”

David Suzuki

David Suzuki is a Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist who has inspired me, personally and professionally, for many decades. As a modern-day thinker, he has frequently spoken about the importance of keeping sight of human dependence on the Environment for the survival of humankind.  As an environmental activist, he has spoken out frequently about the human impacts resulting in climate change and the importance of communing with Nature and the Environment.

I thought about Suzuki when I heard that the previously harmonious relationship between Ezemvelo Wildlife and the Kloof Conservancy was deteriorating. It appeared that Ezemvelo Wildlife (the managers of Krantzkloof Nature Reserve) was not listening to calls from the surrounding communities for better access to the reserve. Fencing and gates were becoming onerous and limiting community access. Whilst issues such as crime and non-payment of entry fees are important, it is also important for managers of reserves to listen to their users and work with them to improve access and usage.

If all humans disappeared today, the earth would start improving tomorrow. If all the ants disappeared today, the earth would start dying tomorrow.

David Suzuki

Krantzkloof enables us to refresh our contact with the environment and remind us that we are part of Nature, not controllers of it. Our “stuff” pollutes, poisons and contaminates the organisms and ecosystems that depend upon Nature for survival. If we lose sight of the basics which support our survival, extinction starts to become a reality.

That contact with our natural environment through, for example, visits to Krantzkloof or other conservation areas is a way of refreshing and reminding us of the environment that we ultimately depend upon. This can be carried forward by the reminder that we should do our best to plant indigenous and endemic species in the spaces and areas that we occupy. (And, of course, remove the exotics!)

Planting native species in our gardens and communities is increasingly important, because indigenous insects, birds and wildlife rely on them. Over thousands, and sometimes millions, of years they have co-evolved to live in local climate and soil conditions.

David Suzuki

Going back to a part of Suzuki’s first quotation, “the constant demands of technology” create pressures on resources and energy, resulting in the severe impacts that we are experiencing due to climate change. The recent release of the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report in August 2021 has underlined this. The report and its supporting documents make heavy reading, but the World Resources Institute has published an article called “The 5 Big Findings from the IPCC’s 2021 Climate Report”. The five findings are: –

1. We’re on course to reach 1.5 degrees C of warming within the next two decades.

2. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century is still within reach but requires transformational change.

3. Our understanding of climate science — including the link to extreme weather — is stronger than ever.

4. The changes we are already seeing are unprecedented in recent history and will affect every region of the globe.

5. Every fraction of a degree of warming leads to more dangerous and costly impacts.

It is now critical that we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and cut back on unnecessary use of energy. Whilst it is difficult for individuals to influence fossil fuel usage, everyone CAN cut back on unnecessary waste of energy. The obvious strategies include saving energy by cutting wastage (don’t leave lights and appliances on unattended or unused), switching to using solar geysers, planning car trips to carry out multiple tasks, saving on extra journeys, and using low energy or energy-efficient appliances and equipment.

As Kloof residents, we are fortunate to have a nature reserve (Krantzkloof) right in the middle of our suburb. It’s there to help us understand the world we live in and give us the pleasure, relaxation and inspiration to ensure that our place in the Environment is as a part of the Ecosphere, not a consumer of it. Furthermore, by saving energy, we can all do our part in reducing the human impacts causing climate change.

Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social, and spiritual consequences. It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that underlie our lifestyles.

David Suzuki

Arend Hoogervorst is an environmental scientist with 40 years of experience in South Africa in environmental management and sustainable development in local and central government, commerce and industry and private practice.

© Arend Hoogervorst, 2021.