Posts Tagged ‘Climate change


A voice from South Africa

I got this in my in-box and I just have to share it… – Sekwanele! –

“Climate Change and global warming are perpetrated by the Capitalists to oppress the poor to make profit”

by Reverend Mavuso of the Rural Network

We are told that our world is at risk from global warming caused by the pollution of the capitalists over many years. These same capitalists have become rich by making the rest of us poor. We were forced off our land, forced to work in their mines, factories and homes and now we are told that there are no more jobs for us. We are left to rot. For us the world has been in crisis for a very long time.

We cannot be expected to pay the price for global warming. Many of us don’t even have electricity in our homes. The price for fixing global warming must be paid by those that have become rich while disrespecting and damaging this world that God created for all of us.

As the Rural Network we are very concerned that game farming and the tourism industry are being presented to the world as ‘eco-tourism’ when international guests are being encouraged to come to South Africa. In fact we are being evicted for ‘eco-tourism’. This exercise is used to rob people of their land and to evict poor people and replace them with animals. Empty promises of new job opportunities are made to the poor. But these job opportunities are for domestic workers and security guards. The B&Bs belong to the rich and the poor do not benefit out of it beyond some few people getting badly paid jobs as domestic workers or securities. This whole business of eco-tourism is just a new stage in the long war against us. Now we find that when people want to harvest the blessings of God’s world there is a huge cry of poaching. People need their land back. Any environmentalism that doesn’t start and end with people will just become another excuse for the rich to oppress us.

If there are extreme temperatures or floods the landless and homeless will suffer the most. Industry must be heavily taxed for its pollution – past and present. That money must go towards creating ways of working and creating energy that will not damage the earth. But it must also go towards making sure that everyone has a decent house or enough land.

Farmers are producing food for exportation which is a threat to food sovereignty. When their product is not good enough for the export market they throw it away where it could not be reached or consumed by the poor. Milk, sugar and bread are so expensive in such a way that they are not affordable to the poor. It is as if they are imported but in fact they are locally produced.
The planting of sugarcane is a practice of monoculture. The commercial farmers are not crop rotating and so they deplete and destroy our soil. The burning of sugarcane is also causing global warming and is polluting the environment.
Sugarcane and timber plantations consume a lot of water and cause drought.
Ploughing with tractors also emits carbon so the government must give us nguni cattle so that we can use them for farming. These cattle must not to be taken by government officials for their own private herds as it is happening with the KZN government. Land reform must not be about creating black farmers who can farm like the big commercial white farmers. Land reform must be about creating a livelihood for people that have been dispossessed and have no work. It must be about local production for local needs. It must be about food sovereignty.

Transport must be safe, viable and reliable. The taxis are said to be public transport but they are privately owned. The government must negotiate with the taxis owners so that we can do what they call clubbing. That means sharing the transport to reduce the amount of cars in the roads. Public transport must be cheap and safe and run for the people and not for profit. The politicians must stop using big cars and the must reduce their fleets of cars and stop travelling in big convoys with blue lights. They threaten our safety and they pollute the environment through emissions of carbon. When travelling short distance they must use bicycles together with their V.I.P protection.

Climate change and global warming must not be used as a mechanism to deny the poor to access basic services and enjoyment of basic human rights. Food production should be aimed for local feeding not for exportation. Natural resources must not be privatized and sold, because they are a gift from God.
Water must be channelled to all people especially the poor. The Umngeni river has never dried up. There are the Uthukela, Umhlathuze and Jozini dams but the poor have no water. So this notion of saving water must not be misused as a way of denying the poor access to water.

Industries must rest at night to allow the earth to use its natural cooling system. The government must make sure that one day is the resting day where all industries are forced to rest. God made the night on purpose for all human kind to rest. There must be a way of controlling these industries. They should only work to meet the needs of the people – not to produce for 24 hours just to make some few people rich.

Climate change must not be used to deny us access to jobs. Jacob Zuma promised half a million jobs but every day there is less and less work. We should change the work week to three days so that everyone can get work and there can be more time for families, learning and community work.

Renewable energy must not be a way of denying the poor access to electricity.
Whenever Eskom is in trouble they blame the poor for self-organised electricity connections and the police are sent out to shoot us and disconnect us. We all have a right to electricity. It is not the poor that are using too much.

COP17 that is coming next week will be a meeting of perpetrators of global warming. They are not serious about climate change mitigations and adaptations.
They only care about profit making. They will converge in Durban with airplanes, buses and cars which are going to pollute even more our environment.

They will not be meeting in a democratic city. As the repression of Abahlali baseMjondolo has shown to the world this is a city where there is no freedom for the poor. This is a city where if you are a poor person and you want to be part of discussions about your future you will be met with violence from the party and the police. Here the poor are not allowed to represent themselves.
They must be represented by civil society organisations.

It has been said that God made this world as a common treasury for all. That is how we need to treat this world – as a common treasury for all – not as something to be bought and sold and exploited by the rich.


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Cycles for a richer society

When it comes to promoting cycling Sweden ranks fourth best in the world. Is this something to be proud of? Maybe, but its not very ambitious. Fourth best might be OK. I mean we’re not the worst, yet.

The annoying thing is that the knowledge base needed to be the best or as good as the best exists in Sweden, both among some politicians and many planners. Examples of how the urban environment can be improved for both pedestrians and cyclists is close at hand in those countries that are better than us. Investments to promote walking and cycling are not expensive. They provide great value for money when compared with other infrastructure investments. The missing ingredient, the one that means that Sweden doesn’t quite achieve the same high standards as lets say Holland for cyclists is lack of political will. The right noises are made but not implemented.

The main difference between cycling policy in Sweden and the Netherlands is quite simple. In Sweden you can easily and safely cycle around the cities. In Holland urban planning in recent decades, has made the bicycle quite simply the easiest way to get around in cities. Although it is easy to get around by bike in Sweden the easiest way to get about is often by car. For some reason, people choose to travel by car more often than necessary probably just because it is so simple. In Holland city planners have worked actively for years to give cycling a comparative advantage.

Why is this important? Is not it enough with the attitude we have now? The answer is no. for several reasons, but here there is only place to name a few of them. Each journey by bike gives an economic gain to society. Where as every trip by car is subsidized, heavily subsidized if it occurs within an urban area. Congestion charging at the levels presently discussed hardly affects this. If we want people to use one mode of transport over another, subsidies are a policy tool that demonstrably work. Although its important to subsidize the modes that you want to promote. Climate change, poor urban air, noise and insecurity are all external costs that are wholly or partially incurred by car traffic in cities. It is through taking care of the car’s victims that society subsidizes cars.

Most of the problems facing cyclists in Sweden are caused by cars. Cars travelling at unacceptably high speeds in urban areas and cars parked on narrow streets. On urban streets where people live and go about there business, the maximum speed should never exceed 30 kilometres per hour. Today many of our streets are empty, so why reduce the speed on a deserted street? Simple, when the speed of the traffic is lower, people start using street spaces again.

There is a much livelier street life in Holland than there is in Sweden. The Dutch initiative where cyclists are given a comparative advantage over motorists have benefited everyone, including the small minority who do not cycle. Dutch cities are pleasanter places to be in. And because it’s pleasant, people spend more on the street. They’ve managed to put life back into the cities, which among other thing increases personal security. Dutch cycling policy has had a variety of positive social feedback.

This said Holland has not declared war on motorists. The number of cars per thousand inhabitants is only marginally lower in the Netherlands than in Sweden (457/475). The difference is that in Holland motorists are also cyclists. Dutch motorists take the bike in the city because it is the fastest and easiest way to travel. All places are still accessible by car if you have to unload something. But its not that simple. Cyclists and pedestrians have the space they need in Dutch cities, cars get the space that’s over, and not vice versa as in Sweden.

Fourth best is pretty good but not good enough.

Ian Fiddies
Friends of the Earth, Transport Committee

This is a translation of the original article first published in Swedish in Göteborgs Fria Tidning


Västsvenska paketet är ett svekpaket

Jag vet inte vem jag ska rösta på i omvalet den 15 maj. Mitt problem är att jag är orolig för klimatförändringar. Lyssnar man på de olika partierna så är de grönare än gräset på andra sidan allihopa. Ser man på de planer som de stora partierna enas om, verkar alla partier vara lika svarta. Det hade på något sätt varit uppfriskande om ett av partierna hade gått till val under rubriken ”Det är viktigare att de som redan är rika tjänar mer pengar nu än att vi bevarar planeten för kommande generationer.” Men ärligheten i politiken verkar vara utrotningshotad.

Det som gör mig förbannad är det så kallade ”Västsvenska paket”, svekpaketen som jag föredrar att kalla det för. Svekpaketets tre huvudingredienser är: Västlänken, en tågtunnel under centrala Göteborg; Marieholmstunneln, den mycket omtalade Älvförbindelsen; samt trängselskatter.

Enligt Annelie Hultén:
Det Västsvenska paketet …ska bidra till att skapa en större arbetsmarknad och främja sysselsättning, tillväxt och minska trafikens negativa påverkan på miljön .” (Göteborgs stad, Årsredovisning 2010, s. 5)

Hon börjar rätt, folk kommer att tvingas pendla ännu längre sträckor om paketet genomförs. Paketet kommer att möjliggöra en ökad exploatering av tidigare ointressanta ytor för småhus, som är i för sig tillväxt och dessutom en sysselsättning. Men att påstå att paketet skulle ”minska trafikens negativa påverkan på miljön ” har jag mycket svårt att svälja.

Västlänken är den del av paketet som jag har en försiktigt positiv inställning till. Om vi ska kunna minska personbilismen måste kollektivtrafikens kapacitet utökas, men om man bara ökar kollektivtrafiken kapacitet kommer fler att resa oftare och längre vilket är negativt ur miljösynpunkt. En miljövinst får man endast om de nya kollektivresorna görs av någon som annars hade kört bil. Västlänken kunde ha en mycket positiv effekt på miljön om vägkapacitet i regionen samtidigt minskades.

Paketets andra ben, och det är här sveken kommer, är Marieholmstunneln. Den är en gammalmodig ”betongsosse”, vägkapacitetsökning av det absolut sämsta slaget, en stadsnära motorväg. Det är en försök att bygga bort trängsel med mer väg. Varje försök hittills, och jag menar varje, att bygga bort trängsel med mer väg har lett till en kraftig trafikökning och försämrad framkomlighet. Vist kan den möjliggöra en utökning av kollektivtrafiken, men till vilken miljönytta om personbilstrafiken också ökas? Vist är det bra om överviktiga människor börjar äta råa grönsaker men de kommer inte att gå ned i vikt om de samtidigt äter ännu mer skräpmat än tidigare.

Och slutligen den stora heta potatisen, trängselskatter. Trängselskatter skulle kunna användas för att ”minska trafikens negativa påverkan på miljön” men de kan lika gärna användas för att försämra läget, vilket är fallet här när de ska finansiera svekpaketet.

Påståendet att det Västsvenska paketet ska ”minska trafikens negativa påverkan på miljön” är helt enkelt falskt.

Som sagt, jag vet inte vem jag ska rösta på. Är miljön en viktig fråga för dig kan jag som miljöaktivist inte ge dig något råd utöver att använda personröstsmöjligheten och rösta in individer som är beredda att trotsa partilinjen. Just nu är det min bedömning att alla partier i regionvalet är lika vidriga i trafikrelaterade miljöfrågor. Fast förbannad är jag bara på de partier som jag själv tycker borde veta bättre.

Ian Fiddies

Göteborg 6 maj 2011

Först publicerad i Göteborgs Friatidning, 14 maj 2011


Destination Earth

This is an old clip I stumbled upon. Somehow it seems fitting today, I mean it’s now that we need reminding that oil companies only want to make our lives better.

Ian on Twitter

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