Environment

Three scary numbers

Last week I came across three numbers that left me numb[1]. Together they brought home the essence of the climate fix we’re in — and the massive profit margins that are riding on us failing to deal with the challenge. In essence it’s about the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere, and the…

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What art you talking about?

The 31st of July was the deadline decided on by the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DepARTment) for arts practitioners and institutional responses to a revised White Paper they made available (in very limited fashion) earlier in the same month. There was nothing normal about the process but nothing abnormal either. Because this…

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Waiting to inhale (Part 1)

By Gillian Schutte It’s a blistering hot afternoon when we arrive at the Barracks. This regimentally built cluster of council houses was erected in Wentworth in the 1970s and used to temporarily house part of the community that was forcibly removed from Cato Manor to Durban South in the 1974. Thirty-six years later the same…

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How enset can save Ethiopia

Hunger is expensive: The World Food Program (WFP) announced recently that child malnutrition in Ethiopia costs 55.5 billion Br every year. That is 16.5% of the gross domestic product: nearly a fifth of the country’s earnings. Ironically, hunger also disproportionately affects small holder farmers: The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that half…

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How do ‘world-class cities’ deal with their waste?

The waste crisis in my own suburb in Jozi has abated … for now. Last Friday residents flurried about with their stinky, overloaded bins in obviously excited gratitude as the Transman truck heroically crested at the top of the hill. I rushed to tell my neighbour from across the street to bring her bins out,…

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Dan Brown’s Inferno: This might be fiction, but it’s a wake-up call

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” (Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321) With this epigraph from Dante, Dan Brown begins his recently published novel, Inferno, which deliberately takes its name from one of the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. It is…

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Dear Mayor Patricia de Lille and Alderman JP Smith, Cape Town

In response to this and this please find the new: ATTENTION ALL ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES CC: IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS, CAPE TOWN BUREAUCRATS AND POLICE NEW REGULATIONS / BYLAWS FOR MAKING MUSIC + ARTS IN PUBLIC SPACE IN CAPE TOWN You will disregard the loud, screechy sound of the retailers and local businesses who think that the…

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Fracking and Utopia

An engineer recently said to me that there’s no such thing as a perfect system. He was referring to software development, but the concept was not unfamiliar to me, as Utopia is something that political theorists have been discussing for centuries. It is always there, whether referred to implicitly or explicitly in the academic literature….

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The white-throated needletail and passing of precious things

I recently travelled to the picturesque town of Hamilton, New Zealand, through which the ethereally beautiful Waikato River courses, a body of water deemed sacred to the Maori people who refer to it as a tupuna (ancestor), a taonga (treasure), and a mauri (life force). Featuring in the headlines of this far-off place were regular…

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Climate change: Red alert in the Anthropocene

It is fitting that “Anthropocene”, the term coined just more than ten years ago by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist, denotes the new ecological period, following the end of the Holocene, when humans became the principal force driving changes in the planetary system. I say this because the Holocene (“New Whole”), or stable…

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