Eco-Awareness and the Environment
South Africa has been blessed with plentiful natural resources and a beautiful environment. Much of the appeal that South Africa enjoys with regards to international tourists lies entirely in the plethora of opportunities that the country offers to immerse oneself in Nature’s gifts.
As for South Africans themselves, despite the diversity of cultures that struggle to coexist peacefully, one attitude that can be found across the board is a respect and reverence for the wildlife and landscapes found on the southern tip of the African continent. Accordingly, SA can boast that it has often led the way in conservation efforts, and today still continues to allocate large amounts of money to research, wildlife protection, and the development of a sustainable eco-tourism sector.
Although conservation efforts include both on-land and aquatic environments, the need to correctly manage precious water resources and fragile marine ecosystems is becoming increasingly pertinent. With revelations about the seepage of acid from disused mine shafts and tunnels into Johannesburg groundwater, as well as the predicted shortage of drinking water within the next 30 years, dramatic measures will have to be taken by the managing authorities to ensure that the country enjoys a sufficient supply of potable water in the future.
Unfortunately, the human need for water, it is often believed, is of far greater importance than the need to protect aquatic ecosystems. What is looked over in this particular point of view is that we too are part of a larger ecosystem that relies on the proper functioning of water environments, and that a disruption in the balance the latter can have far reaching consequences for human well-being. Of course, even if human interests were utterly independent of other ecosystems, there should be an ethical responsibility to protect these fragile systems from the harm and pollution caused by human activity and consumption.
Should there be any question about the negative impact that human activity is inflicting on the natural world, both terrestrial and aquatic, there are numerous reports from highly reputable sources (academic, governmental, NGOs, NPOs) that clearly point out that the impact of mass industrialisation has been to contribute, most significantly, to the current deplorable state of the environment. “Deplorable” might not be a strong enough word when it is noted that we are currently in a period of mass species extinction: this is to say that the contemporary rate of extinction is roughly two hundred times higher than it would normally be. In addition to this, even those who either deny the existence of global warming or attribute the global rise in temperatures to purely natural phenomena, cannot but decry the destructive effects that industrial and domestic waste has on the delicate ecosystems that sustain life on Earth.
To counter the desecration of the natural environment, rather drastic steps will most likely have to be taken, including the increasing of education to augment ecological sensitivity, and, most importantly, a decrease in the consumption that drives large scale industrial processes. Unfortunately, this may mean that luxuries like an Apple iPod Touch may become an edifice of an earlier, less resource oriented age.