Maybe the Earth is trying to tell us something

The Cabinet said this week it would be “unrealistic” for the government to agree to greenhouse gas emission targets, saying it would hamper economic growth.

This is likely to be the line that China and India, among others, are going to take at the forthcoming Copenhagen conference.

The Cabinet’s decision seems to fly in the face of recent government thinking, after calls in the past for mitigation strategies.

This thinking held that while the costs of implementing reductions would be high, the costs of ignoring it would cause far greater effects, particularly for developing nations.

Meanwhile, scientists are preparing to paint a dire picture at a conference in London, and will say that as the atmosphere heats up, the Earth’s geology is altered.

“Not only are the oceans and atmosphere conspiring against us, bringing baking temperatures, more powerful storms and floods, but the crust beneath our feet seems likely to join in too,” said Professor Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre, at University College London (UCL).

“Maybe the Earth is trying to tell us something,” added McGuire.

In related news, Europe could pay up to €15-billion a year to poor countries to break an impasse over who should foot the bill for tackling climate change.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it was time to break the impasse in the Copenhagen negotiations and that industrialised nations must lead the way.

Dimas estimates the developing world will face costs of about €100-billion a year by 2020 to cut emissions from industry and to help deal with droughts and crop failures worsened by climate change.

It will be interesting to see Pretoria’s response to the EU’s offer.

Tokyo Sexwale
The human settlements minister said this week his department was introducing “austerity measures” to cut official travel, accommodation and administration costs. He also said he would from now on be flying economy class to attend parliamentary sittings. It would be heartening to see more ministers following his lead.
Morne Harmse
Harmse was handed 20 years’ imprisonment by the high court this week for killing of a fellow pupil with a sword. The judge said Harmse had grown up in an “unstable” home environment and was scared of his father who used to beat him.

Most-read stories

September 3 to 9 2009

1. Mantashe vs Mbalula
Another succession battle is emerging in the ANC — this time between Gwede Mantashe, the party’s secretary general, and Fikile Mbalula, now a powerful national executive committee member.

2. Radebe, Ngcuka and the mysterious death of a judge
The mystery surrounding the seemingly violent death of acting Cape High Court judge and ANC struggle hero Patrick Ntobeko Maqubela continues to deepen.

3. Caster is a cover girl
“Wow, look at Caster now!” is the headline on a South African glossy magazine. It carries a picture of Caster Semenya, the athlete at the centre of a gender testing controversy, wearing makeup, jewellery, a new hairstyle and a glamorous dress.

4. Equality Court rules in Malema matter
The Equality Court in Johannesburg granted absolution to African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema on Monday on the unfair discrimination complaint lodged against him, but not for hate speech and harassment.

5. Take2: The Mark Shuttleworth of con men
Thank you Brandon Huntley, self-proclaimed white-dog refugee. Thank you. You have given South Africans a new hero, and lord knows, we need heroes in this country. You, sir, are the Mark Shuttleworth of con men.

6. In the rainbow nation, colour and class still count
Could I be, for the first time in my life, a member of an oppressed minority? Brandon Huntley would presumably say so. The white South African applied for refugee status in Canada complaining that he had been repeatedly attacked by black criminals who called him a “white dog” and a “settler”.

7. Kriegler to challenge Hlophe decision
Former Constitutional Court judge Johann Kriegler will announce an intention to legally challenge the decision not to proceed with a misconduct probe into Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

8. Caster’s coach resigns, says she was duped into tests
Caster Semenya’s coach has resigned because she was duped into believing she was undergoing standard doping tests instead of gender tests, the Star reported on Monday.

9. Blacks are also ‘persecuted’, says crime victim
Thuli Ndlovu doesn’t buy the claim of fellow South African, Brandon Huntley, the country’s first-known “crime refugee”, that he was singled out by criminals because he was white.

10. Kriegler’s ‘condescending attitude’ slammed
Former judge Johann Kriegler has a condescending attitude toward black people, said Judicial Service Commission (JSC) member advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC.

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