As countries imposed lockdown procedures, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the impact humans have on the environment came into sharp focus. For example, the fact that there were fewer cars on the roads, planes in the sky and that dirty industries had temporarily closed meant that carbon emissions were reduced.
We are operating under extreme circumstances at the moment, but the lesson we must learn from this experience is that modifying our behaviour is the only way to find long term solutions to the challenge of protecting our environment and biodiversity. Our actions are pushing nature beyond its limit and it will not be able to sustain humankind for much longer.
When we damage or wipe out biodiversity, we are destroying the very system that makes our lives possible. South Africa is one of around twenty megadiverse countries in the world today. This makes us especially responsible to protect and preserve our environment for not only future generations, but for ourselves as well, because at the rate we are going, South Africa’s natural treasures will be erased in our time.
Also, the unfortunate by-product of the Covid-19 lockdown is that circumstances as they are, are likely to destroy our tourism industry, which is a large contributor to our economy. Not only that, it is reported that the tourism industry employs more than 740,000 people, and the forecast of job losses in South Africa bodes ill for workers in this industry.
Another harsh lesson lockdown has taught us, is that food security for the poor masses is fragile. We saw the desperation as people queued for food parcels as their meagre income gradually dried up.
The first line of defence is quite simply to “go back to basics”; government should invest in educating our people about sustainable subsistence farming and encourage them to grow vegetable gardens (the latter is easily possible in the cities with urban gardening techniques). This could also have a positive effect on the environment as people would buy less mass-produced food.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP