- Humanity demands more than Earth can regenerate
- Calculate your carbon footprint
- #movethedate to 31 December
Schneider Electric and Global Footprint Network (GFN) launched a new mobile-friendly Footprint Calculator for Earth Overshoot Day 2017, which enables everyone to track their ecological footprint and personal Earth Overshoot Day.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This year it fell back to 2 August, the earliest date ever, according to GFN, as humanity currently demands 1.7 times more than Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate. When launched in 2006, Earth Overshoot Day fell in October.
How can you #movethedate?
Reducing the energy intensity of homes, buildings and cities will help #movethedate of Overshoot Day back down again; we only need to move the date 4.5 days per year to operate within the means of our planet by 2050.
GFN is highlighting four solution areas to #movethedate: cities, energy, food and population. More than 2 million people used Global Footprint Network’s previous calculator last year, including students and teachers. In addition to a greater focus on solutions, the new calculator features the latest footprint data and methodology as well as updated graphics to help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Protecting planet, society
“We hope our new Footprint Calculator enables millions more people around the world to explore sustainability solutions and gain an uplifting sense of the possibilities available to society,” says Mathis Wackernagel, founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network. “Many of these solutions directly align with Schneider Electric’s values, practices and capabilities in the energy and city solutions space. It is a logical partner as a company whose business model focuses on creating a sustainable future.”
“Through our partnership with GFN, Schneider Electric aims to further promote one-planet compatibility in our global economy and mobilise citizens, other companies, and governments around the world to help #movethedate of Earth Overshoot Day back to December 31. Building an always more sustainable global supply chain and designing increasingly resource-efficient offerings for our customers is our obsession. Our EcoStruxure solutions reduce energy and CO2 intensity of homes, buildings, cities, grids, data centres, industries and these help #movethedate,” says Taru Madangombe, Vice President of Energy in Southern Africa for Schneider Electric.
Great leaders protect their nations and their communities by addressing current threats, scanning the horizon for approaching storms and transforming policies as needed. They understand that being prepared, as the Boy Scouts have taught us, is the requisite of security.
Today, without any doubt, the Earth’s climate is changing. In 2016, global temperatures were the highest recorded, surpassing the previous record set only the year before. Rising seas are already threatening island nations and coastal communities. Drought has forced millions of families to migrate in search of food, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have described climate shifts as a serious potential threat to the United States.
This is a threat that we must heed. We do not want to be caught unaware and in denial like the grasshopper of Aesop’s fables.
What do we do? One approach is to wait for the government to act. This is a hazardous path. As a candidate, President Donald Trump called climate change a hoax and dismissed the Paris Agreement as misguided.
China has taken the opposite position. It has committed to aggressive emissions reduction targets and, by some reports, is already ahead of schedule. In January, China halted plans for 103 coal-fired plants. Simultaneously, it is committing billions of dollars toward a low-carbon economy, creating jobs in renewable energy and supporting emerging nations in their efforts to adapt to the onslaught of climate change.
This does not mean that we in the U.S. are paralyzed. Climate change, in fact, has ushered in a renaissance in design, land use and technology. Businesses and universities are investing in new technologies as well as new partnerships with the focused mission of solving the climate challenge, with or without the government.
Architects are designing buildings that generate more energy than they consume. Farmers are using cropland more efficiently to prevent expansion into carbon-storing forest ecosystems. And cities, businesses and universities are continuing to invest in clean-energy breakthroughs that are driving down the price of wind and solar.
“Humanity has the capacity and the ingenuity to respond to climate stress. To do so, we must remember that no great transformation has been led by government alone”
In November, immediately after the U.S. presidential election and concurrent with the United Nations climate negotiations, the worlds of innovation and tradition came together as entrepreneurs and indigenous leaders joined forces to plan decentralized action to fight climate change. The result is the Roadmap, a call to action to create new inclusive models of change to fight climate change together as a global community.
One non-technological solution put forward was simply to support the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who control nearly 25 percent of the Earth’s surface and most of the planet’s healthy ecological systems. Their forests, if managed wisely, could capture one-third of the total amount needed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is what many scientists believe is the limit for avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
There is no doubt that humanity has the capacity and the ingenuity to respond to climate stress. To do so, we must remember that no great transformation has been led by government alone. It always has been up to private citizens to provide the solutions to back up formal policy.
Now, we push forward with that work, with or without the U.S. government. No matter what our government does, we — citizens, communities and businesses — must not hold back our creativity, urgency and investment.
This is the time for transformation without permission.
The newly released Green turtle pair, nicknamed ‘Mel’ and ‘Grotto’, have been in the care of uShaka Sea World for the past three weeks after being found stranded in separate incidents. Green turtles – although they do not nest on our shores – are resident in iSimangaliso. The nearest breeding grounds are in the Mozambique Channel. Adults may reach sizes of about 78 to 112 cm and weigh between 68 and 186 kilograms.
Little ‘Mel’ is small, weighing only 816 grams. She stranded at the Willows outside of Port Elizabeth on 16 December 2015 and was taken to Bayworld for initial care. She was treated for “shell rot” and thankfully recovered completely. Mel has a healthy appetite and gained weight steadily throughout the year. Two weeks ago she was transported to Durban closer to her natural habitat and ultimate release site.
Grotto, whose gender is unknown, is larger and weighs 12.6 kg with a carapace length of 480 mm. Grotto was taken to the Two Oceans Aquarium after stranding on Grotto Beach on 29 April this year.
Both turtles were checked by uShaka’s resident veterinarian Dr Francois Lampen, who found them to be in good health and ready for release.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is renowned for many attributes, including biodiversity and its five major interlinking ecosystems. Amongst these are the spectacular coral reefs off Sodwana Bay and the Coastal Forest section of the Park, which provide shelter to myriad sea life, notably five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles. iSimangaliso’s reefs form part of an extensive marine protected area, where habitat destruction and harvesting are minimal threats to the turtles visiting our Park. With the numerous sheltered inshore reefs and the protection afforded by a Marine World Heritage Site, Mabibi represents a safe release site for small green turtles.
Our shores are also the last significant breeding site of leatherback and loggerhead turtles in Africa. Turtles are threatened worldwide by human impact. Threats include habitat loss and degradation, wildlife trade, collection of eggs and meat for consumption, incidental capture in commercial and subsistence fisheries (bycatch), climate change and pollution. Diving at Sodwana Bay offers a great opportunity to spot – and photograph – one or more of the five sea turtle species that occur in these protected waters.
This is not the first time rehabilitated turtles and other marine species have been released into iSimangaliso, which has also provided a safe haven for rescued hawksbill turtles and potato bass in recent years.
With a legacy of over 60 years of turtle research and conservation along its well protected shores – the longest running in the world – every effort is being made by iSimangaliso, with its partners SAAMBR (incorporating uShaka Sea World) and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, to ensure that this and other turtles survive and thrive,” says iSimangaliso Authority CEO Andrew Zaloumis.
Turtle tours operate from November to March and provide the opportunity for Park visitors to witness the miracle of egg laying and hatching of the loggerhead and leatherback turtles on the iSimangaliso beaches. Tours depart from St Lucia, Cape Vidal, Sodwana Bay, Mabibi, Manzengwenya and Bhanga Nek.
Visit the iSimangaliso website www.isimangaliso.com for more information.
“Take it to the farmer”. Those were the last words of Dr. Norman Borlaug, as remembered by his granddaughter Julie Borlaug in her opening speech at the Africa Green Revolution Forum in Nairobi. The man whose improved wheat varieties sparked the Green Revolution in Asia during the 1960s had dreams to take new and improved agricultural technologies to Africa to spark a similar revolution here, but he died with “unfinished business”.
That challenge now lies with us.
Data revolution key to solutions for nuanced African agriculture
I believe that if Africa can have a Green Revolution, central to it will be a data revolution.
That’s down to the fact that we live in such a diverse continent, with many different environments and cultures. It’s something to embrace and celebrate. But it also means that blanket solutions to agricultural challenges – like single new crop varieties – won’t work here. There is too much nuance. There is too much complexity. Instead, African agriculture needs site-specific solutions. And key to that is the collection, sharing, and analysis of farm data from all over the continent.
We need African farmers to monitor their farms like never before – recording rainfall, fertiliser use, the crop varieties they sow and the yields they produce, and sharing their results with scientists. We also need research organisations, universities, and governments to share the data they have generated over the years, with the global scientific community. By making data open access, we could trigger a bonanza for farmers.
Where data becomes intelligence
The CGIAR Big Data Platform will play an important role in this. When it launches in January 2017, it will be the largest convenor of big data experts in agriculture in the world. It will also collate and crunch data from organisations globally. Then thousands of computer modelers, GIS experts, and statisticians from the public and private sectors will mine it for patterns, trends, and anomalies.
The platform will be the place where data becomes intelligence, giving us unprecedented insights for improving agriculture. These will be shared directly with policymakers and governments so that intelligence becomes action on the ground. It will help farmers make better decisions about what to plant, when to plant and how to manage their crops in the best possible way. They will help make agriculture much smarter and much more precise.
And smart, precision agriculture is much more resilient to unpredictable weather, to pests and disease outbreaks and other challenges that affect African farmers every day. It will help take some of the huge risks out of farming, boosting food production, and helping protect soils and ecosystems. It will also ensure that agriculture is more responsive to new technologies, new practices, and emerging market opportunities. That will not only improve productivity and boost yields, it will enable farmers to grow and feed their own families more nutritious food.
Take the message to the farmer
Of course, when you improve smallholder farming in Africa, you also improve the lives of women. We need no reminding that they are the ones who put the food our tables here.
We’ve already seen how collecting and sharing high-quality data can help us achieve incredible, things, very quickly. In Colombia recently, rice producers saved millions of dollars by delaying planting until a dry spell had passed. This was the result of CIAT and the Colombian government working together with shared information and shared goals. I want to see these kinds of innovations and these kinds of impacts here in Africa.
We accept there will be challenges. But these shouldn’t stop us. When Norman Borlaug sent his improved wheat seeds to India, it wasn’t a smooth ride. They were held up at customs, denied permits and the first batch was entirely destroyed. But that didn’t stop him eventually getting them to farmers.
We should draw inspiration from this. It will require hard work, significant funding and global cooperation. But I firmly believe big data has the power to transform and revolutionise African agriculture. We need to seize the moment and take that message to the farmer.
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This is the warning issued on Wednesday by the African Marine Waste Network‚ to be launched in July‚ as African countries join hands to stem the torrent of plastic waste entering the oceans.
“International organisations now fear that Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South-East Asia‚ which has the foulest record on the planet‚” said Stephane Meintjes of the Sustainable Seas Trust‚ one of the founders of the network.
“The exact amount of debris entering the sea from South Africa or any other African country is not known. What is known‚ however‚ is that the rapid development of Africa‚ coupled with poverty‚ has seen waste accumulation outpace management.
“The network urgently needs to find out how serious the African problems are‚ where they are and how to address them.”
Meintjes said that worldwide‚ 270kg of plastic entered the sea every second. Plastic washed into rivers and estuaries and then carried to the sea was the main problem.
“By 2045 the flow of plastic into the sea will be 600kg per second … if present trends continue. This situation poses a serious threat to humans‚ to animals and plants and to ecosystems.”
The network‚ to be launched in Port Elizabeth‚ was “an African cross-boundary initiative supported by the private sector which aims to make a contribution to solving a global crisis”.
The Sunday Times recently reported that South Africa’s beaches are awash with plastic – as many as 400 items per metre‚ according to scientific data due to be released by industry body Plastics SA‚ a partner in the network.
Plastic accounts for well over 90% of beach litter‚ with plastic packaging items the most common.
Plastic Pollution will be in the spotlight on July 25th and 26th in Port Elizabeth. During these two days the Sustainable Seas Trust, Plastics SA and other partners will launch the African Marine Waste Network.
The need for the network was recognized some years back by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and a number of government departments, universities, research institutions, NGOs and concerned citizens, but a decision to launch the network was only made in 2015 with a view to building on the back of the South African Hope Spot Network, launched by Sustainable Seas Trust and Dr Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue.
Dr Earle is also one of the Patrons of SST. Appropriately the Network will be launched in Port Elizabeth as Algoa Bay is one of South Africa’s six Hope Spots. Although the launch will take place in South Africa, the African Marine Waste Network will be the first to address marine waste at a Pan-African level. The SST has emphasised the enormous contribution of Plastics South Africa to this initiative.
Two days have been dedicated to the launch in order to set aside time for national and international experts to participate in a planning workshop, for public lectures and the first meeting of the Network’s Advisory Panel as well as to provide an opportunity for celebrations to mark the official launch.
Pollution of all kinds, a major global problem; it causes 40% of premature human deaths globally, costs US$ 13.8 trillion annually and is influencing climate on the planet. An exceedingly important part of the pollution problem, marine waste, is the focus of the Network. Debris and solid waste enter the sea in ever increasing amounts every moment of every day. About 270kgs of plastic enters our seas every second; that is a little over 15 tons every minute; 900 tons every hour.
Plastic washed into rivers and estuaries and then carried to the sea, beaches and rocky-shores is the major contributor to this form of pollution. The remainder comes from ships and boats. By 2045 the flow of plastic into the sea will be 600kgs per second; 36 tons per minute or 2160 tons and hour, if present trends continue. This situation poses a serious threat to humans, to animals and plants and to ecosystems.
Estimates suggest that there are 150million tons of plastic in the sea at the moment. If present trends continue, there will be more than 700 million tons in the ocean by 2050, outstripping the total weight of fish in the sea.
The exact amount of debris entering the sea from South Africa or any other African country is not known. What is known, however, is that the rapid development of Africa, coupled with poverty, has seen waste accumulation outpace management. International organizations now fear that Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South East Asia, which has the foulest record on the planet. The Network urgently needs to find out how serious the African problems are, where they are and how to address them.
In his message to the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, Achim Steiner, in his capacity as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, emphasised that the threat of marine pollution can only be tackled effectively by means of a trans-national initiative actively supported by the private sector.
The African Marine Waste Network is an African cross-boundary initiative supported by the private sector which aims to make a contribution to solving a global crisis.
The organisers of the launch expressed the hope that all South Africans will join this initiative to help Africa to play its role in ensuring that the children of our planet have a better tomorrow.
The world has a well-documented problem with trash – and we’re rapidly running out of places to put it. But despite the fact that more and more of us are aware of the issues, our addiction to convenience and disposable living has us churning out garbage faster than ever.
We take a brief look at the problem and at what’s being done to solve it, both in South Africa and in other places around the globe.
How Big Is the Problem?
There’s no doubt that the problem is big – and getting bigger. A recent World Bank report stated that the total amount of municipal solid waste – the type produced in densely populated urban areas – is growing even faster than urbanisation is occurring. According to the report, it is likely to almost double by 2025, going from 1.3 billion tons per year to 2.2 billion.
By 2100, scientists predict that it will have tripled – and may keep rising after that. And this doesn’t just mean overflowing landfills or incinerators churning out toxic chemicals: a study published earlier this year revealed that eight million tons of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year (the equivalent of five plastic bags for every foot of coastline around the globe).
Even nations with a sophisticated trash collection system, such as the United States, are guilty of bombarding the ocean with serious amounts of plastic – with disastrous consequences for delicate marine ecosystems. What’s more, with the plethora of current concerns about climate change, the subject is rarely given any media attention, and researchers must often fight to have their voices heard.
What’s the Solution?
South Africa faces considerable challenges when it comes to tackling the waste management problem – not least the fact that only 60% of its residents enjoy the luxury of curbside waste disposal. Thanks to valuable support from the South African Climate Innovation Centre, however, pioneering firms like Holystic Approach and Eco-Match are making it easier for effective recycling to take place – at both a consumer and an industrial level.
Elsewhere, local groups of business entrepreneurs like the Hout Bay Recycling Co-op – who sort, weigh and sell reusable materials – have carved out useful roles for themselves within the government’s push for a greener economy. As well as helping to make the country greener, the Co-op scheme has enabled many of its members to lift themselves out of poverty and create better lives for their families.
South Africa isn’t the only part of the world taking action. Alinta Energy just blogged about the new electric refuse vehicles (ERVs) improving life in the City of Chicago – not only are they super quiet, they also have impressive green credentials, with each truck offsetting around 21 tons of carbon dioxide each year. And on the waters, the innovative Ocean Cleanup Project is working on the first large-scale method to clear the world’s seas and oceans of harmful plastic.
But while these major schemes and innovations are essential for changing things on a global level, let’s not forget that our personal contributions are highly important too. Why not start today – rethinkrecycling.com has some great ways to reduce your personal waste and become more trash-aware.
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WAKKERSTROOM, Mpumalanga – The insatiable hunger for mineral resources means mining companies are starting to encroach on more vulnerable ecosystems.
With energy and jobs high on the national agenda, government departments are failing in their environmental mandates.
Mpumalanga’s rural communities are caught in the middle of this political power play, with more than 60 percent of the province mined, or reviewed for possible mining, in the past 15 years.
It took more than five years of consultation and negotiation to have Mabola’s grasslands declared a protected environment.
Eight months later, the Department of Mineral Resources started granting mining licences in the area.
Mining companies may have operating permits, but many don’t have water licences.
Water Minister Nomvula Mokonyane estimates nearly 100 mines aren’t complying.
Conservationists have accused government of sacrificing vital ecology to promote mining.
Catherine Horsfield of The Centre for Environmental Rights said, “Other departments such as the DEA and DWS are under pressure too, and confuse their mandates in the process of water protection, environmental protection with economic development and job creation.
“There is a reluctance to be perceived to be anti-development and anti-job creation.”
The mines are also polluting what little these communities have.
Samson Sibande has invested his life savings in this farm, but a mine on the property is poisoning the water and his animals are dying.
Sibande claims he was promised it would be rehabilitated.
But when he approached the department, he says officials couldn’t track down the company responsible.
Louis Snyman of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies said, “We have a perfect storm that’s arising out of poor capacity within department, with the regulations going straight towards the Department of Mineral Resources.”
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, which oversees biodiversity, says it’s being asked to comment more regularly on applications for mining licences.
The agency is adamant the damage to the environment mustn’t outweigh the benefits of the mines.
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The South African Breweries (SAB) in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature of South Africa (WWF-SA) has launched Better Barley Better Beer, a programme that encourages and supports sustainable farming practices amongst South Africa’s barley farmers, focusing on water reduction, improved carbon footprints, soil health and clearing of alien vegetation, as well as the protection and restoration of ecosystems.
Better Barley Better Beer is in its pilot phase in the dryland area of the Southern Cape and in the irrigated barley areas in the Northern Cape, and will run for approximately two years.
The programme involves a total of 26 barley producers – 15 in the dryland area and 11 in irrigation, who have either voluntarily opted to participate or hold important conservation assets on their properties. These assets include endangered veld, important water catchment areas and critical species.
Through structured engagement and advisory support, Better Barley Better Beer is aimed at empowering barley farmers to understand and implement sustainable farming practices. The programme is an important element of SAB’s global sustainable development framework called Prosper.
Prosper highlights tangible targets to be achieved by SAB over the next five years in the areas of responsible alcohol consumption, securing water resources, reducing waste and carbon emissions, supporting small enterprises, including emerging farmers, and the support of responsible and sustainable land use for brewing crops.
Farmers with critical conservation assets will be supported in engaging on biodiversity stewardship to protect and restore ecosystems. The stewardship concept is a new way of achieving conservation protection by creating positive, proactive partnerships with private landowners and conservation bodies such as WWF-SA.
“The WWF-SA’s interest in Better Barley Better Beer is to support farmers as key custodians of our South African natural resource base, with advisory extension support to adopt best practice that ensures farming maintains, protects and restores key natural systems, while minimising the environmental impact of production activities for the benefit of producers, as well as downstream users,” says Inge Kotze, WWF Senior Manager: Sustainable Agriculture.
The Better Barley Better Beer guidelines, developed in collaboration with the WWF-SA and SAB agriculturists as well as local barley farmers, drive the implementation of the programme by each producer.
The guidelines provide farmers with criteria, indicators and verifiers to measure how sustainably they are farming. Key indicators contained in the guidelines allow farmers to self-assess their performance using a checklist provided. They are also able to easily identify strengths and weaknesses and develop action plans to correct deficiencies.
“The guidelines are designed to empower the barley farmer to make the right decisions today to ensure the sustainable production of local barley into the future,” says Thinus van Schoor, General Manager SAB Maltings.
A ‘zero sum game’ for the farmer
The pilot is aimed at reducing the cost and risk of doing business and improving crop production, a ‘zero sum game’ for the farmer. Using key metrics, farmers will be able to track improvement and progress overtime to support the development of a business case for sustainable production and they will be able to demonstrate the impact and value of changing practices at farm level and elsewhere in the chain.
SAB intends for the Better Barley Better Beer key metrics to be systematised into accepted industry standards, much like the Barley Passport it introduced in the 2005.
The Barley Passport contains detailed information on chemicals applied on the produce and only that which is registered will be purchased by SAB.
Better Barley Better Beer allows SAB to build on its strategic business objective to help grow the local barley industry and secure its future growth and sustainability. This is in line with South Africa’s strategic plan for sustainable agriculture and the Department of Agriculture‘s policy for sustainable development.
Through Better Barley Better Beer and other sustainable agriculture initiatives, including the construction of a multi-million rand SAB Maltings plant in Johannesburg and its Go Farming programme, which is geared at establishing and supporting emerging farmers, SAB intends to source more than 90% of its barley requirements from local producers.
“Having a fully-fledged and sustainable local barley sector means SAB can rely on contracts with local producers for approximately 93% of its brewing requirements, enabling us to hedge against volatile global commodity markets and, just as importantly, to keep tighter control of quality and ensure a sustainable barley growing sector,” says van Schoor.
Historically, SAB has played a pioneering role in the South African barley industry. It began growing barley locally more than three decades ago, a strategic attempt by the company to become self-sufficient. Since those early days, SAB’s support for the local barley industry has strengthened considerably and the company is today regarded as a critical role player. The strategic industry partnerships it has developed, as well as its close working relationship with producers, is what has helped to yield successes and drive further sustainable growth.
“Our collaborative approach within the agricultural sector has proven to be the most effective method in creating sustainable growth, which is a key objective of any SAB investment. The existing knowledge and skills within the industry is invaluable to success,” says van Schoor.
This focused commitment by SAB to investing in the local barley industry extends to developing and supporting a more inclusive environment with equal opportunities. These efforts stretch as far back as the early 1990s when SAB initiated the Taung Barley Farmers Project in the Northern Cape. The programme has helped to encourage local barley production and create a sustainable source of income for smallholder farmers. Today, it supports more than 120 smallholder farmers, each generating a sustainable income with guaranteed access to market as supported by SAB.
About 160,000 tons of barley are currently grown in the Southern Cape and a further 55,000t (64,000t in 2013 and expanding to 94,000t tons in 2014) are produced in the irrigation areas of the Northern Cape. SAB helped establish South Africa’s barley growing sector in the 1970s, a strategic move to become self-sufficient in producing the key brewing ingredient.
The next phase of the Better Barley Better Beer pilot will be the roll out of specific guidelines to small scale and emerging farmers in the Taung area. These guidelines will be tailored to focus on training the farmers rather than auditing them.