Going green' has become a necessity
The new buzz-word for the immediate future is ‘green’. For the large segments of humanity trapped in giant smog-filled cities, the green colour of plants is increasingly rare to see and, as a result, ‘green’ has come to symbolise nature.
Here, where we still have more green vegetation than grey concrete, the struggle has always been against nature – chopping the bush, burning grass, pulling out weeds – the term ‘green’ doesn’t have quite the same romantic effect that it does on westerners, especially Europeans who have not only tamed their land, but beaten it into submission.
For tens of thousands of years, humanity has struggled to adapt their environment to themselves.
Building shelters, farming, mining and so on have literally changed the landscape our forefathers walked in the attempts to change our environment to suit ourselves.
The key aspect of environmentalism, however, is adapting ourselves to our environment rather than the other way around.
This fundamental difference in perspective is vital to understand if we are to successfully ‘go green’ in Swaziland, which has not been tamed for more than 150 years.
The ‘greening’ of Swaziland is therefore an attempt to live more harmoniously with nature and our surroundings. But the surroundings have changed.
We may not see it so easily, but that is because, as human beings, we have short lives – three score and ten (70) according to the Bible.
A person may witness a lot in 70 years and if we ask our elders what things were like, they would describe a distant, dreamy, magical Swaziland which has long been consigned to memory.
In those days there was plenty for everyone, you just had to go and find it.
Today, we live in a world which demands that we exploit our resources as much as possible – and everything belongs to someone.
We can’t just go around picking up what looks useful any more. We have to generate our own resources, from scratch.
Taking care of our environment begins with taking care of ourselves and thinking of those around us. It is first and foremost about resource control.
Firstly, not using more than you absolutely have to (a lit room with no-one in it is the perfect symbol of wasting precious resources) and, furthermore, using everything to the greatest extent possible by recycling or reworking rubbish useful or decorative again.
When you throw something away, do you ever wonder where it goes? A cigarette butt never fully disintegrates, but it does fall apart after seven years or so. So where do all the cigarette butts go?
What people have to understand before they can understand environmental concerns is that NOTHING GOES AWAY.
If you pour poison into the ground, those chemicals will soak into the soil and, unless washed into a river by the rain, they will stay there, waiting to be disturbed. Out of sight is out of mind, but not out of existence.
Things have been economically tough this past year, but there is no indication that any of the nation’s efforts to halt the slide have come to anything.
We are all going to have to learn to do more with less in the near future. One aspect is going to be the necessity to save every last drop of every last resource – already we have seen significant electricity load-shedding exercises, for example.
There simply isn’t going to be enough for everyone anymore, and certainly not enough for the greediest among us, the corrupt officials and so on, who are set to tear at each other’s throats as soon as they feel the eco-nomic bite.
The party’s over and we are left with crumbs and the important question now is – how are we going to use those crumbs for the best benefit of the nation?
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