Tag Archive: sustainable


Food security: A crisis

“Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink to live.” – Socrates

One of the biggest challenges facing us today must be our ability to secure a balanced and healthy food supply to everyone. The combined challenges of population growth, climate change, political upheaval and economic growth put more strain on an already taxed system.

The planet is straining under the burden of 6.7 billion people, all of them needing to be fed, clothed and housed. This is all depended on the ability of an economic system to supply these things based on energy created wealth. With the advent of bio-fuels more food producing lands are converted into fuel producing fields in order to satisfy the “green” energy needs of growing economies.

Economies are dependent on the governance, which in itself, becomes a lucrative place to be. The ability to dictate policies and agendas often have the spin-off that he or she that dictates benefits financially. In order to be in government land is often repatriated from one and shared with the other; resulting in further loss of food producing area.

In a time where the burden keeps on getting heavier by the second, the ability of the diminishing agriculture surface to produce crop successfully takes another hit by climate change and weather anomalies.

Many of these challenging factors are not going to change. Those in power will always act in their best interest, even if those who elected them suffer, economies will keep on demanding more and more energy, change will stay the only constant in climate and people will keep on procreating beyond mere replacement.

With a crisis on hand it is time to respond, but how? Creating and maintaining food security will depend on a segmented solution, a combination of micro and macro approaches.

Individuals need to look at their own diet and start to follow a more frugal approach. This is counter to the over-consumptive approach of the day; which is seen in the obesity pandemics in the United States and China and rising occurrence of obesity amongst young people in South Africa. It is not justifiable to pig out just because you can afford it. Try doing so with the picture of a starving child on the table facing you.

Government need to realize that before you take a farm, train a farmer of equal ability. As a country we cannot afford to lose the productivity on any farms. The stability of a country depends on the satisfaction of the basic needs of its citizens, but not on the satisfaction of their greed.

Government and individuals need to find a way in becoming more energy efficient. The goal will be to use less energy or produce more while using the same amount of energy. We cannot afford viable land producing lands being converted into bio-fuel plots.

Families need to seriously think about limiting family sizes. We cannot claim an inalienable right to procreate if this right pushes our and mankind’s future to the brink of disaster.

We do not have a lot of time left to act; we need to act now!

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Measure of success – revisited

Many things have been written about what constitutes success. Most often in our contempory situation success is measured in terms of wealth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are household names thanks to Forbes list of richest people in the world. In a growing consumerist world, “things” are playing an ever increasing role in our measurement of success.

We have bigger houses (the average American house doubled in the last 50 years and I suspect the same trend can be seen in South Africa), prefer to drive around in big 4×4’s (even to fetch the children from school), TV’s gets larger, holidays further and more exotic, clothing keep on getting more labelled and disposable becomes the criteria of the day.

In short, it can be said that success on average is measured by the capability of a person to consume energy and create waste. The reverse is also true in a very few instances, where success is measured in the financial ability to buy technologies that allows for an excessive lifestyle but have a neglitable energy and waste footprint. This however strengthens, even expands on the measure of success; those who can use the most energy and generate the most waste and at the same time limit their carbon footprint and recycle most of their waste is the most successful of all. Hopefully this slows us down enough to think about our definition of success for a moment.

I believe the time has come for us to take serious stock of how we define success. I would like to argue that success needs to be defined in different terms all together. Success reclaimed would encompass different values than the monetary based wealth definition; I want to highlight three of these values.

The first is a life of sustainability. This is more than the financial ability to limit one’s carbon footprint through expensive technologies. A life of sustainability first and foremost embraces justice and integrity. It is impossible to live an extravagant life without impacting negatively on someone else’s somewhere. We live on a planet which is finite, limited. Growth ad infinitum is impossible. A successful life therefore is one of frugality, justice and integrity.

The second is a life of moral value. It seems that in the quest for monetary wealth, everything is upgradable, disposable or justifiable. One only has to look at a world where corruption is common place; divorce is the familiar story of many families and the own self is the first authority on behaviour. It therefore seems that a life of success rather strives to uphold honesty before financial gain and family values before a neglected community.

The third, and probably the most important, is a life in relationship. No one lives as an island. We are all dependent on another and them on us. It is therefore inevitable that success is measured on the impact of us on others but also the impact on ourselves. We can only achieve a life of sustainability that is characterized by moral fibre if we live with our interdependence as a single focus; relationship up, horizontal, down; in and out.

Success measured in terms of wealth inevitably leads to a break down of, at least some, relationships, often tempts one with immoral choices and is unsustainable at the core. The only question remains; why still use wealth as the measure of success?