There is a perfect storm building in South Africa. Three events, which are all linked, are creating conditions that are stressing the poorest of the poor communities in unprecedented ways. What are they?
- According to a Greenpeace analysis based on satellite data, Mpumalanga Province has been identified as the world’s largest air pollution hotspot, resulting in thousands of premature deaths. Mpumalanga is home to 12 coal-fired power plants which are emitting the greatest amount of nitrogen dioxide in the world. The satellite data show that Johannesburg and Pretoria are also affected by the pollution which blows across from Mpumalanga.
- South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is heavily investing in new fossil fuel mega-projects:a US $10 billion coal-fired power plant and fracking rigs and pipelines in two of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the country. Ramaphosa’s pro-corporate stance is focused on reviving the lagging South African economy, despite potentially devastating environmental effects. This in a country that could easily convert to solar and other renewable energy sources if there were the political will.
- The International Research Institution of Climate and Society (IRI) say that it is highly likely that El Nino will arrive in South Africa over spring and summer, 2018-19.Typically this results in warmer temperatures and less rainfall. One of the strongest El Nino events of the last 50 years occurred in 2015 and had devastating impacts on harvests and food security. It now looks like a second El Niño in four years could exacerbate the problem.
How does Permaculture factor into this scenario? Permaculture is a system of ecological design as well as a global movement of practitioners, educators, researchers and organizers, bound by three core ethics: care for the earth, care for the people and care for the future. The permaculture movement offers vital perspectives and tools to address catastrophic climate change. Permaculture integrates knowledge, experience, research and practices from many disciplines to restore landscapes and communities on a large scale.
The impacts of climate change fall most heavily on frontline communities, who have done the least to cause it. Mpumalanga Province is home to 10 of our 15 Permaculture Explorers sites. Now, more than ever, we need to embrace techniques and practices that enable us to mitigate and adapt to climate change. “The crisis is grave, but if together we meet it with hope and action, we have the tools we need to create a world that is healthy, balanced, vibrant, just, abundant and beautiful.” (International Permaculture Convergence: over 600 people from 70 countries)
Zingela Ulwazi intends to do our small part through our Permaculture Explorers project. Watch this space for more information on our plan. You can learn more about our work at www.zingelaulwazi.org.za