Space Mining

Space Mining

When science fiction translates into reality, good things tend to happen. In the case of a new private sector undertaking, great things may be on the horizon for both space exploration and human achievement. The latest enterprise planned by legendary explorer/filmmaker James Cameron is something straight out of sci-fi movies and videogames; mining asteroids for precious metals and minerals. Helping form a company called Planetary Resources Inc, James Cameron and Google CEO Larry Page have ambitious plans for the future, and if realised, they might just push the world several eons ahead of our current technological limitations. These magnates of… read more

No Silver Bullet

No Silver Bullet

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy, CO2 emissions in the United States have dropped to the lowest levels since 1992. The focus of the analysis done by scientists and journalists has been attempting to discern the reasons for the drop. However, this type of analysis is missing a larger point: efforts to combat the rise in CO2 emissions in the U.S. have worked. Granted, identifying which efforts worked and didn’t work is important for repeating the success, but it cannot be ignored that on a macro-scale, it worked. A combined rise in natural gas usage,… read more

Mining Responsibly

Mining in South Africa

South Africa is the biggest mining country in the world, a report compiled by Citigroup estimates that the country has over USD 2.5 trillion in precious metals reserves. To the corporate world this means potential to realize big profits, however to the many communities located in close proximity with mineral reserves this may spell the potential for catastrophic environmental disasters. The South African legislature recognized the need to address potential problems associated with mining, thus it passed the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA). This piece of legislation requires all persons who have applied for a… read more

Doing Less-With-More…

Global cooperation

A common green perspective is that solving sustainability problems is a matter of increasing levels of global cooperation and economic efficiency.  Thomas Princen – Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment – suggests that today’s world is characterized by increasing levels of cooperation and efficiency, often in the name of sustainability. Global forestry organisations are impelled to extract more fiber per hectare of forest; and the world’s water managers are compelled to draft new water management agreements. Yet deforestation proceeds unabated, and freshwater availability continues to dwindle. Could it be, Princen asks, “that the… read more

Fire and the Environment

Fire usage and the environment

Fire is a necessary resource in the daily lives of many African communities. From time immemorial, it has been used for cooking, generating heat in the winter, generating light at night, harvesting honey from wild bees, and for religious/cultural rituals, amongst other things. When used appropriately, fire is a wonderful gift from mother-nature. Similarly, when abused and/or misused, fire can be a curse to the natural environment and human beings alike. The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that globally, 350 hectares of wild land are consumed by fire each year, and that 90% of the time such wildfires are a… read more

A Green Economy

Renewable energy power

Given the slow recovery of the U.S. economy, every economic solution must be explored. Obviously, there are solutions that are more credible than others. The legitimacy of oil and nuclear energy has greatly diminished by the negative effects they have on the environment, people, and recent disasters. On the other hand, renewable energy has had its credibility strengthened by technological advancements and the fact that these energies are renewable. There are many obstacles renewable energy implementation faces, but the foundation of these obstacles is that a strong, robust renewable energy economy requires an energy revolution. Opponents of renewable energy are… read more

Firewood – Paying the Price

Selling Firewood in Africa

In principle there is absolutely nothing wrong with earning a living from the offerings of our natural environment. After all, the environment is there for human sustenance and enjoyment. That is why it is very important to strike a balance when interacting with nature, we must always strive to give to it as much as we take from it. The protection of the symbiotic relationship we have with the environment is the only way we can ensure that all the beauty that is around us will be there for future generations. In Swaziland, it has become customary for a lot of low income extra-urban… read more

Oil Spills

The effect of oil spills in the ocean

The effects of oils spills are devastating. Wildlife are killed or injured which affects the food chain, which in turn affects us. The reasons for oil spills can vary. Ships may have machinery break down or fail which in turn causes a spill. The people managing the ship may have made careless mistakes. Natural disasters may cause an oil spill too. If a hurricane was a couple of miles away, the winds from the hurricane could cause the oil tanker to flip over, pouring oil out and spreading it. Illegal dumpers dump oil into the oceans because they do not want to… read more

E-Waste and Africa

E-waste in Africa

You may have heard the expression “when America sneezes the whole world catches a cold” being said in the context of the global financial economy. The same may be said in regards to first world countries, vis-a-vis the developing world, when referring to the generation of e-waste and its effect on the natural environment of developing countries. E-waste is defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) as any appliance using electric power that has reached its ultimate life span. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (“UNEP”), in 2010 an estimated 62.5 to 125 tonnes of e-waste associated cable found its way… read more

7 Billion Mouths

Agricultural production vs growing population

Increasing agricultural production to feed the world’s growing population is often seen as integral to achieving sustainable development. According to the United Nation’s Environment Programme the world’s population will increase from 7 to 9 billion by 2050 with agricultural production needing to be increased to keep pace. This is an old argument often traced to the work of British scholar and Reverend Thomas Malthus who, at the end of the 18th century argued that food production always plays catch-up with human population growth. But, as the FAO’s own data also demonstrate, world food production has consistently outstripped population growth for at least the last 50 years. So what… read more