Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Truth is Ignorance

WWF has released their Living Planet Report 2004.

"The Living Planet Index is the average of three separate indices measuring changes in abundance of 555 terrestrial species, 323 freshwater species, and 267 marine species around the world. While the LPI fell by some 40 percent between 1970 and 2000, the terrestrial index fell by about 30 per cent, the freshwater index by about 50 per cent, and the marine index by around 30 per cent over the same period.These declines can be compared with the global Ecological Footprint, which grew by 70 per cent, and with the growth in the world’s human population of 65 per cent, from 1970 to 2000."

According to the WWF humans currently consume 20 per cent more natural resources than the earth can produce. It seems to me that our planet is in a really serious state of environmental degradation, if we keep up our present behaviour we might soon reach the point of no return - at least that's what I fear. Perhaps I am taking this all far too seriously, but I follow environmental stories closely and the news is just not good. You do read conservation success stories, but these pale into insignificance compared to the extinction and near extinction stories, and the stories about the way forests and such things are declining.

I have tried to figure out why as a global society (leaving out the estimated 1.3 billion poor people who have other things to worry about), people in general are not more concerned about the environment? Maybe it's because people are not being directly affected and the actual dire consequeces are too far ahead in the future, so people probably figure out what the heck, I'll be dead by then anyway so who cares. Maybe it's because the reality is too horrible to contemplate and people would rather be like ostriches and bury their heads in the sand, maybe terrorism and the war in Iraq is too good a smokescreen and makes for more exciting reading than a few dead frogs in some far away third world forest. Maybe mainstream media has figured this out and isn't bringing us the stories we really need to know. Why do serious environmental stories (bar earthquakes and floods) so seldom make frontpage headlines? It's crazy, sometimes I think that we're living in some sort of Orwellian "war is peace", "truth is ignorance" version of reality.

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