Development is Inevitable
The ice is melting! The sea is rising! Hurricanes are blowing! And it’s all your fault! Thus reads the opening frames of ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’; a documentary so critical of those parading the current increases in the earth’s surface temperature as being caused by man, it all but calls them lunatics.
Liars, conspirators, clowns…these are just some of the names the many scientists, researchers, politicians and authorities that are championing a call to save the planet through more environmentally responsible/ friendly behaviour, have been lavished in the film.
Environmental issues, of course span a much wider scope than global warming, but the seeming urgency of the topic has put climate change at the helm of international political and social agendas. Climate change is now bigger than its parent, the environment. Some of the questions (and there are many) concerning us now are:
One: Do Development and Environmental Management necessarily pull in opposing directions?
Two: Is man to blame for the clear radical climatic and environmental changes we are witnessing around the world (melting of the Greenland ice cap, rising global average sea level, doubling of the rate of increase of the earth’s temperature in the last 50 years) ? In a word, NO!
The long version: The Brundtland (1987) UN commission originated and defined the concept of sustainable development as “…that which does not compromise the future needs of society, economy and environment.”
‘Sustainability’, a term now synonymous with the environment, in fact means finding a harmony that does not sacrifice economic and social advancement, on the altar of the environment!
When we say ‘Development’, in Africa, we of course refer to making progress towards becoming a civilisation at par with our western neighbours.
Anyone that knows anything about civilisation understands that it involves a significant amount of physical infrastructure (transport networks, advanced housing etc) and a great deal of metallurgy! If you will, this could all be harvested out of thin air and constructed on floating clouds, but history that goes as far back as we are able to tell, reveals we have always extracted what we need from the good old earth, and have always built on, dug up, buried in, burnt up, cut down, the same, to get where we have.
As with everything good and beneficial, all that is needed is to exercise a little reason and common sense.
Speaking of sense, there is obviously none in dumping hazardous waste into a lake, or killing a dwindling animal species for sport, just as there is none in using these as examples to show how development is destroying the environment.
Similarly, an extremist view that bawls for cessation of all fishing, lumbering, built environment, mining or tapping of natural resources in anyway because it is pissing off Gaia( the hypotheticakl Greek god of environment), is to say the least unreasonable.
Simple moderation and regulation are all that is required. For Africa of course, the complex relationship between poverty, corruption, illiteracy and development means it is no simple feat balancing development and environmental objectives; as expected, environmental issues are rightly seen as trivial and shelved. Any good leader, however, understands that a little planning, goes a long way.