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29 Sep 2017 00:00
Disastrous: Climate change, driven by, among other things, the government’s overinvestment in energy derived from coal, is real and causes harm, particularly to the poorest people. (Photo: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)
It’s no longer a matter of prediction: climate change is here. We have long been aware that it would lead to stronger hurricanes, unpredictable monsoons and unstable rain patterns.
The tragic events of the past month were a confirmation of the predictions climate scientists have been sounding for the past 25 years.
Scientists have been speaking, but we have not been listening.
A stand by the world’s Christians gives hope. As extreme weather grips many of the Earth’s most vulnerable people, the Christian family acts for climate justice. From September 1 to October 4, Catholics, Anglicans, the Orthodox Church, the World Council of Churches and members of the ecumenical family join together to act and pray for climate justice.
Moral leadership from people of faith is important because the effects of climate change are not evenly distributed. Drought and flooding most affect the poorest of the poor, with the least resources to rebuild a home, replant a field, or seek medical care for flood-borne illnesses.
Here in Southern Africa, the uneven distribution of climate change’s consequences is especially stark. The drought is pushing up food prices. The effect on the poor is immediate and devastating. In Cape Town there is a possibility that the sewerage system may stop functioning. This will have dire results for those in informal settlements, and those who contribute least to climate change will be hit hardest by it.
South Africa is the continent’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. Much of this comes from our production of electricity, 90% of which comes from coal. Renewable sources of energy are a good alternative, and a successful renewables programme has attracted $14-billion in investment. Investors want to fund projects that would effectively double the amount of renewables in the power supply, but Eskom has refused to sign the agreements and is building coal-fired plants instead.
South Africa has an opportunity to develop a clean energy economy and step away from our disastrous collective commitment to climate change, a commitment that has real and tragic effects for all of us.
Beyond our borders, our leadership can set the tone for the rest of the continent and for the world.
Of course, deciding to break our addiction to fossil fuels won’t be easy. We in the Anglican Church have made a start. In 2016 the Anglican Church passed a resolution to divest our reserves from fossil fuels. With this action we had the goal of encouraging financial institutions to begin to offer fossil-free portfolios to customers. Other religious institutions are doing the same. During the Season of Creation, a coalition of religious institutions from around the world, will announce its divestment from fossil fuels.
The faith community must stand on the side of the poor and vulnerable people who suffer the most in the climate catastrophe. We need to simplify our lifestyles so that others can simply live. This involves reducing our endless purchasing of materialistic goods, our overuse of fuel and electricity, our high consumption of meat and our wastage of water.
We are combating climate change as a moral and ethical disaster, and we invite our brothers and sisters in industry to join us. Climate chaos is knocking at our door. For the sake of the vulnerable, for the sake of our children, let it get no further.
Most Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba is Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
Lazy writing or strong observation and humour?
The hit-piece on white people written by Megan Ross (The white man’s last outpost: His 4x4) was disgusting and I request the Mail & Guardian to respond in accordance to its own values and statements. It’s time you take ownership over the content that you represent, even if it is underlined as “opinion”.
The piece not only enforces negative racial stereotypes across all colours, but also represents a myriad of divisive words that lead to damaged relations across all creeds and cultures.
Our country has had enough racial division as it is. Your blatant bias has outed your establishment as nothing more than a cheap sellout, which puts you in the same category as the mentally unstable tabloids or, even better, the recent Huffington Post SA scandal — there the editor-in-chief had the integrity to step down after a similar piece was published.
For an establishment that claims to be among those that strive toward a better South Africa, especially with the M&G’s history, your guest writers tend to be highly divisive.
But I suppose the only way you can make money is to post nonsense for clicks.
As an individual who comes from a multiracial background, with family members who worked as journalists during the post-apartheid era, I find such laziness and lack of self-discipline extremely disappointing. It seems the low-hanging fruit is good enough for journalism these days. — A Non-White Male
I have seen this all my life. If you inch closer to the white line at a traffic light when it’s about to go green, the white boy in the next lane will fall for the bait every time, roaring off to the next traffic light, waiting for the second round of “drag racing”.
Those terrified women’s or girls’ faces I have seen so often, compelling me to try to understand that awful, desperate place. Controlled, helpless and shamed. The men are violent, yes. Psychotic, juvenile.
Keep up the good writing. Very few are allotted this talent and strong observation. And of course, the humour. — Justin Dowell
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