Heedless consumption of resources is “a global suicide pact”

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 31 January 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for “revolutionary action” to achieve sustainable development, warning that the past century’s heedless consumption of resources is “a global suicide pact” with time running out to ensure an economic model for survival.

"We mined our way to growth," "We burned our way to prosperity."

“Let me highlight the one resource that is scarcest of all: Time,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a session devoted to redefining sustainable development. “We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change. Time to ensure sustainable, climate-resilient green growth. Time to generate a clean energy revolution.”

Calling sustainable development the growth agenda for the 21st century, Mr. Ban recited a litany of development errors based on a false belief in the infinite abundance of natural resources that fuelled the economy in the last century.

“We mined our way to growth,” he said. “We burned our way to prosperity. We believed in consumption without consequences. Those days are gone. In the 21st century, supplies are running short and the global thermostat is running high.

All this now needs rethinking to secure the balanced development that will lift people out of poverty while protecting the planet and ecosystems that support economic growth, he told the assembly of heads of State and government, international economists, business and industry leaders and civil society.

“Here at Davos – this meeting of the mighty and the powerful, represented by some key countries – it may sound strange to speak of revolution,” he said. “But that is what we need at this time. We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action. A free market revolution for global sustainability.

“It is easy to mouth the words ‘sustainable development,’ but to make it happen we have to be prepared to make major changes – in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life. We have to connect the dots between climate change and what I might call here, WEF – water, energy and food.” WEF is also the acronym for the Davos World Economic Forum.

Source: UNEP

Pakistan has second highest rate of deforestation

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 10 July 2010

Speakers including experts here at seminar on de-forestation issues, were of the view that Pakistan’s timberlands are in urgent need of protection and conservation by the concerned authorities, in order to discourage de-forestation and illegal chopping of trees for timber and other uses. “The major threat to Pakistan’s forests is uncontrolled and indiscriminate cutting of trees for living purposes and timber products”, the experts and participants of a seminar on the issue of “Research-based policy dialogues for sustainable forest governance”, said experts.

The event was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Swiss National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR North-South). Talimand Khan, Coordinator, Survey Unit, SDPI, conducted the proceedings. The participants were of the view that there was dire need to find out alternate and sustainable livelihood methods to ease pressures on this precious natural resource.

Pakistan, they observed is having the world’s second highest rate of deforestation, leading to the wholesale disappearance of trees, shrubs and ground flora together with the vertebrate and invertebrate fauna they normally support.

The principal cause of deforestation in Pakistan is the consumption of fuel wood and timber (primarily for house hold firewood) and it exceeds production in all the four provinces except in the relatively sparsely populated Northern Areas, they remarked.

This consumption, they said was expected to increase in line with the growth of population, illegal logging, unsustainable use of natural resources and the minimal participation in reforestation programmes. The participants were also of the opinion that conservation and livelihood of people residing in forestlands needed to be linked in addition to determining the status of forest owner and land tenure for proper forest management. Participants of the seminar presented different views in regard of deforestation.

Talimand Khan in his remarks asked the participants as well as authorities to explain only the truth for the conservation of forests. He said that there are de-facto owners who are not interested in saving forests as trees do not legally belong to them.

Dr Babar Shahbaz, from Agricultural University, Faisalabad, claimed that despite allocation of huge amounts to forest departments “We are second highest in forest degradation in the world”.

Source: The News

India now worlds 5th biggest polluter

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 May 2010

India is the world’s fifth-biggest polluter, a new study confirmed on Tuesday, with its greenhouse gas emissions growing by more than 3 percent annually between 1994 – 2007.

Ganges River pollution

The Asian giant is also suffering from the effects of global warming such as rising temperatures and sea levels along its coasts. The study represents the first update to an assessment of India’s air emissions that was done 16 years ago. More than 80 scientists from 17 institutions across India were involved in the study, said Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister.

The sectors that showed the most significant annual growth in emissions were cement production, 6 percent; electricity generation, 5,6 percent; and transport, 4,5 percent, said the study, which was released by India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.

India’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions were roughly 1 360 kilograms in 2007, according to the study. That’s small compared to China and the US, with 4 763 kilograms and 19 278 kilograms respectively that year. The study said that the European Union and Russia also have more emissions than India.

Still, pollution is causing India’s environment to erode significantly, the study said, underscoring the need for India to take action. Continuous warming and the changing rainfall pattern “may jeopardise India’s development by adversely impacting the natural resources such as water, forests, coastal zones and mountains on which more than 70 percent of the rural population is dependent,” the study said.

Temperatures in India, which already suffers from economically debilitating heat and drought, could rise by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (3,6 F to 7,2 F) by 2050, the study said. In addition, the study says, India’s coastal waters have risen between 1,06 and 1,25 millimetres per year over the last four decades, the study said, threatening life along the coasts.

UN scientists says greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide – emitted mostly by burning fossil fuels for electricity and transportation – are causing climate change that threatens potentially catastrophic environmental damage such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

A conference in Copenhagen in December failed to reach a new legally binding treaty after two years of UN-sponsored negotiations.

Last week, some 40 nations agreed to take individual steps to fight global warming but made little progress during a three-day meeting near Bonn, Germany, toward a new international climate change treaty.

– Sapa

Biodiversity lost at unprecendented rate

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
02 February 2010

In her speech at the launch of the ‘International Year of Biodiversity’ the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, stressed the need to take steps to protect the biological diversity of Earth.

Fynbos. South Africa's Western Cape is a hotspot of biodiversity and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

“Biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate….We are witnessing the loss of the very services on which livelihood systems depend. Our communities are being affected by erratic weather patterns, they become displaced and there is the scramble for natural resources, clean water, air and food”

She stated that our current consumption patterns will require the resources of 2 planets by 2030, and that humanity’s continued existence is under threat.

Noting that this was an opportunity to raise local awareness of the importance of biodiversity for our health, wealth, food and survival she pointed out that “South African society should strive for a more sustainable use of natural resources and for a reduction in habitat loss and climate change”.

Natural disasters, poverty and shrinking water resources were noted as some of the areas where innovative solutions were needed.

Sonjica called upon all communities to “jealously guard their natural resources” against the actions of “unscrupulous people who loot our natural resources to a point of depletion”. Rural development was singled out as a priority as these areas are often the biodiversity hot-spots.

Land redistribution was also noted as a priority.

Read the full speech: DEAT