Recently I put a post on Facebook that I had successfully completed 5 months as a vegetarian. Many people responded to that post. It is almost as if collectively as a species, we sense we are in danger.
In my world there are red lights blinking:
* South African National Parks allows the Knysna Elephant to go extinct.
* In Kenya, the Mara river, backdrop to some of the most dramatic wild life sequences ever filmed, runs dry.
* In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean Government continues with the sale of young, wild elephants to China.
* In Botswana a management plan to fence off migratory routes of wildlife is accepted by the Botswanan Government.
* Whales begin appearing dead on beaches around the world, their stomachs filled with plastic.
* An area larger than France becomes a floating island of plastic in the ocean.
Despite Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough, George Monbiot and Paul Watson’s valiant efforts to make us aware of our plight, we are doomed because there are too many of us.
Human beings have disobeyed a fundamental ecological rule. If you do not live on a sustainable basis with your resource, then collapse of the system and consequential die off is inevitable.
The technological geniuses that brought us computers and cell phones and aeroplanes and flew us to the moon, are not trained in sustainability. They live in mega cities, detached from nature.
The leaders of the World, the Politicians and CEO’s of Multinational Companies who impact the planet, are skilled at negotiating. They live in a world of balance sheets, cash flows and spread sheets. They are ignorant of the natural ecosystems sustaining the planet.
Jane Goodall spent her early years studying wild dogs in the Serengeti before moving onto primates at Gombe Stream.
Sir David Attenborough has spent his life travelling the globe making wildlife movies.
Paul Watson has spent a lifetime close to the ocean, going up against the Japanese whaling ships.
George Monbiot, a journalist with the Mail and Guardian, probably has a better grip on where the planet is heading than any other human being on earth.
All four of these dedicated individuals have an acute understanding of the natural world and how it operates. They understand implicitly that human beings have to live on a sustainable basis with planet earth. However they are powerless to communicate to the “mega city mentality” of the impending disaster, because the “mega city mentality” doesn’t relate to the natural world. It relates to profit, greed and politics. It gets its food from the supermarket and its fuel from the gas pump. It relates to the cost of living in the mega city.
My band live in an area where the leopards kill their goats, the elephants trample their crops and the crocodiles attack them when they go to the river. Seven out of ten unmarried girls at the age of 20, already have a child and draw R400 per month per child from the government.
My Band has never heard of Jane Goodall, David Attenborough,George Monbiot or Paul Watson. In fact my Band don’t even know that Gorillas, Chimpanzees or Whales exist. The Band concern themselves daily on where to get food and water. How to get a job, how to stay safe and how to stay alive, (Malaria, HIV Aids, Tuberculosis are the big killers) and in the case of the girls, where to find a husband.
The world's population is approaching 8 billion, it is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. It does not take rocket science to work out that human beings cannot turn this around. The human population is already too high.
Therefore how will Gaia take control, this is the burning question!
My first instinct is she will use microbial diseases that can move rapidly across the planet. She has among other things the following at her disposal:
* Dengue Fever. It's a viral infection spread by being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms include muscle pain, internal hemorrhaging and fever as high as 41 C. It calls for immediate treatment else the platelets will be destroyed which will cause them to bleed into the body's cavities.
* Ebola Virus. Up to 70% of the infected people will die. It spreads through bodily fluids. The white blood cells are ruptured resulting in internal bleeding and bleeding through nose, eyes, rectum and ears. It ultimately leads to death.
* Bubonic Plague. It is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis which enters the body through the bite of an infected flea that causes the growth of inflamed pustules called buboes. Other than vomiting blood and seizures, victims also experience necrosis, a condition where the limbs begin to rot while the patient is alive. If untreated 60% of patients will die.
* Enterovirus D 68. A potentially deadly respiratory viral disease that spreads through saliva and surfaces like doorknobs and towels.
* Cholera. This disease causes severe dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. The bacteria attacks the small intestine resulting in a loss of 1 litre of fluid every hour due to diarrhea. It can also cause the blood to thicken which leads to organ failure and death.
* MRSA. Caused by a drug resistant super bacterium, it destroys blood vessels and lung tissue. The bug locates bacterial entry points such as surgical wounds. It makes its way to the lungs through the bloodstream, causing the lungs to rot. Victims experience pneumonia and later asphyxiation causes organ failure and death.
* Chagas Disease. Caused by the blood sucking 'Kissing Bug' that bites the victims around the mouth while they sleep, transmitting a deadly parasite into the bloodstream. It then attacks and destroys the cardiovascular system. Victims usually do not realize and suffer from cardiac arrests that are fatal if not given immediate resuscitation.
* Meningococcal Disease. It's the most common cause of bacterial meningitis. It attacks the brains membranes by gaining passage through the bloodstream. Within 24 hours victims experience headache, a purple rash and an aversion to light. If not treated immediately, the lungs fill up with fluid and gangrene is triggered throughout the body.
* Necrotizing Fasciitis. It's an invasive bacterial infection that attacks the body's tissue. It's generally found in hospital patients with an open wound, but it can also infect people with paper cuts. Once inside the wound, the bacteria releases toxins that rot the body tissues. Amputation is the only way to stop the bacteria from spreading. Still, one in three patients are not able to make it out alive.
However I believe, Gaia's Strategy may come in the form of food supply. I have used Cape Town as a case study. Cape Town is already struggling with water supply.
To the South of Cape Town is the ocean, rich is fish stocks. However these fish stocks are rapidly depleting through mismanagement, illegal fishing and foreign countries stealing the fish.
To the east of Cape Town, to Knysna lies huge monocultures of wheat. Gaia has only to increase the temperature of the Planet slightly and the wheat crop will be scorched. A huge area will be rendered unproductive.
Large areas of fynbos, whereas they are scenically beautiful, do not provide food.
As you approach George and Knysna, exotic forests appear. Those have replaced the once famous Knysna Forest which used to support a population of elephants. These exotic forests provide no food.
As you travel north from Cape Town, you travel through grape vines. This is the home of wine in South Africa. Apart from the few table grapes that are grown, the wine industry does not provide food either.
Travelling north to Beauford West, the landscape, overgrazed by sheep, has no reached zero productivity. An area which once supported in excess of 200 million springbuck, now lies lifeless and unproductive. To be successful in a low rainfall system, you have to allow the animals to move. Mobility is the key to following the rain and finding the new grass.
Once the South African Government gave title to the farmers, they sealed the fate of the Great Karoo.
Contrary to popular belief, it is wire fences and not guns (guns played a huge role as well) that destroyed the biggest volume of animals the world has ever known.
Ironically Kenya and Tanzania are making the exact mistake that South Africa made. With wire fences they are restricting the mobility of the great bearded wildebeest herds which migrated annually from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. This population of 1.4 million wildebeest has reputedly declined to 160,000.
Incredibly the New Botswanan President is embarking on a management plan which will fence off migratory routes of wildlife. (The inability of human beings to learn from history and to learn from mistakes made, is a glaring weakness and will count heavily against the human species in its attempt to survive in the future)
So where does Cape Town get its food from? The answer is it comes down the N1 in large diesel trucks. (The railway system has apparently failed). Therefore the majority of Cape Town’s food comes from other provinces.
The problem with this is two or three times a year the South African Government increases the price of diesel. A shopping trip to a supermarket ten years ago which would have cost R800, now cost R4000. For the masses as the fuel goes up, so does the cost of food.
Therefore any biologist, economist, agronomist or ecologist worth their salt, would study the Cape Town model and come to the conclusion that the food supply to Cape Town is not sustainable.
In the future Cape Town will run out of water and it will run out of food. I am suggesting that Cape Town is an example of every big city in the world, which will eventually suffer the same fate.
Before the elections, I wrote a letter to the head of the DA, Mmusi Maimane, suggesting that if he wants to win more votes, he should turn Cape Town into an environmentally model city. (Nine people responded to my post).
So at the risk of being a gramophone record, this is what Cape Town and indeed every big city in the world needs to do to ensure its food supply
* Every new building built in Cape Town must have a flat roof.
* Every new building must be powered by solar power.
* Every building must have a water tank at each corner or more, trapping the drinking water. (Israel are experts.)
* The DA must now incentivise every flat roof owner to grow his own food on the roof (China are experts)
* The water that is trapped in the water tanks, circulates via a solar pump through the walls of the building, heating or cooling the building. (San Francisco are experts)
* The same water trapped in the water tanks, waters the food on the roof.
* Markets are subsidized so that people can barter their food. In other words take the super markets out of the game.
* The DA must create a law which subsides the introduction of electrical and solar driven motor cars. Within 10 years, Diesel and Petrol cars should not be allowed in Cape Town. (European countries are doing it)
* The DA should immediately appoint a high level delegation to visit China, Chile, the Netherlands, Israel, Costa Rica, Norway, Germany and especially Bhutan.
By the next elections, DA has a model city which it can export around the world. Its credibility starts to rise and the voters begin to increase. Now they can realistically challenge the ANC who are stuck on expropriating the land (except there is no one who knows how to use it), corruption and infighting.
In June, JV and The Wildlife Warrior Band will play a tribute concert to the male lion Skye, killed in Umbabat one year ago and a second concert to celebrate the announcement of the Transfrontier Park, 3x bigger than Kruger National Park. Dates and venues will be advised.
Tread Lightly on the Earth JV Global Environmental Activist To book Tiger Canyon, Londolozi, Campfire Singer and The Tiger Band www.johnvarty.com +27 (0)82 892 4680; +27 (0)83 651 1600 firstname.lastname@example.org