Environment

Our troubled world

A number of things have struck me since we arrived in Europe to attend a number of conferences, travelling from Ghent in Belgium through Munich in Germany to beautiful Venice in the Veneto of Italy, and they do not augur well for the future of human society or the planet. These range from observations in…

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Is it time to boycott the US?

After multiple delays, and the building up of a twisted reality television-like suspense, Donald Trump has finally announced that he will take America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Among all the fluster of his presidency, this may be one of Trump’s most consequential decisions, and the one with the most long-lasting negative, if not…

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The age of anger

A friend of mine – Avril Gardiner, art-fundi and owner-curator of the Liebrecht at gallery in Somerset-West – recently reminded me of a piece by Bryan Walsh in TIME magazine of 20 February (2017: pp. 15-16), in which Walsh talks about what he calls “this age of anger” in the context of the claim that…

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Is humanity a rational species?

Most readers’ gut reaction to the question, above, would probably be something like: ‘Yes, of course!’ But please consider that the question is not whether humans are, on occasion, capable of rational behaviour. As it stands, the question bears on what would, if it could be answered affirmatively, be the supposed overriding quality of the…

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Open Letter to President Zuma: Reshuffling for a Dream Team Cabinet

Dear Mr. President, the grapevine is abuzz with news that you’re thinking of playing a national game of Russian roulette with cabinet – pun intended. I understand your desire to reshuffle. You can’t be very comfortable surrounded by individuals who have their own mind, a sense of conscience and a commitment to principles of good…

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Has humankind really “progressed”, in the Enlightenment sense of the word?

In philosophy, there is a saying, by Hegel, that the owl of Minerva only spreads its wings at dusk. Hence, when we take stock of our situation today, with the benefit of such hindsight, what do we perceive? Has humankind really “progressed”, in the Enlightenment sense of the word? In fact, does “progress” make any…

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Stop killing our wild animals!

In 2005 I spent three weeks in China, attending conferences in Nanjing and Beijing, and travelling to several other cities. At one point I participated in a hike about 90 kilometres outside Beijing, in an area where the great wall of China is quite dilapidated, unlike in the more touristy areas. It was an enjoyable…

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The resilience of a Somali community in Joburg

By Jennifer Sigamoney Globally, South Africa’s democracy is venerated and remains a symbol of hope for the rest of the continent. Consequently, however, to the initiation of true, representative egalitarianism in 1994, South Africa has attracted more asylum seekers than any other nation. The focus of this article is a small Somali community of political…

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Healthy cities are made of engaged citizens

If health is the absence of disease, then in the urban context, one might think achieving it is impossible. Yet in the past couple of days I was reminded that wellbeing is the result of a multitude of factors and that in our cities, just like at the individual level, such complexity means health is…

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The ‘happiest’ nations in the world – what do they have in common?

Some of you probably know about the so-called “happiness index” that has been published on a regular basis for some time now. It lists the countries of the world on the basis of their ‘happiness’ and obviously, the index has a way of establishing such ‘happiness’ – a number of criteria, that is. This is…

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