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Let’s assume there’s no global warming

If there is no global warming then it is business as usual, right? We should remove any barriers to economic growth and dismiss the consequences. What I hear in the constant refrain from those that either dismiss or downplay global warming is that we should not worry about environmental issues at all. It seems that the majority of that lot deny there are other consequences for rampant industrialisation.

What of the destruction of delicate and vital ecosystems? St Lucia in South Africa (now part of Isimangaliso Wetlands park) is facing a fight by industry to mine the dunes for titanium. Should we be concerned by the loss of turtle habitat? Do they matter at all? There value must be thought of in greater terms than the tourism dollars they bring in. Protection of the delicate species ensures the protection of all the species in such a habitat. Ensuring that habitat is safe means it is safe for the people that live there as well.

Ensuring a safe habitat for the humans of an area must also be extended beyond the safety of protected zones. Factories, refineries and other large industries produce smog and pollution that has been shown to have detrimental affects to humans exposed to it in the long term. Durban South has one of the highest rates of leukemia and a few other forms of cancer in South Africa. The state has even moved people from poisoned areas to new settlements, but fails to penalise and force cleanup by the industry doing the polluting.

So even if global warming turns out to be a false warning we should be doing our damndest to stop the air pollution and various other environmental pollutants being expelled by the very industries targeted by the greenies fighting to stop global warming. Green technologies used for the production of energy are also environmentally friendly in other ways.

But of course the very people fighting against acknowledging global warming are the last to step up and take individual responsibility or recognise other pollutants and other inter-connected issues. This is why the most vocal and vitriolic in the debate do not acknowledge their own subject position or personal biases.

And of course that goes both ways. There are the “green police” that also lack a balance in their views.

There must be some form of a common future that can be created out of all this mess. Cleaning up global industry must be one of the priorities, what ever your views on global warming are.


  • Michael Francis

    I have returned to South Africa. I now teach Economic History and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I am happy to be back after a couple years away. I had been teaching anthropology at a Canadian University, but Africa called and I returned.