What is the real cost of our lifestyle?

Earth Day

By: LIB editor

World environment day was celebrated on Saturday 5th June. I was at a WWF presentation on Thursday to bring to the press’s attention WWF’s celebration of the event as a way to recognise the positive changes brands are undertaking toward food security in this country.

They also launched an important study into agricultural practises in this country. What unites every person on this planet is the basic need to eat.The rich eat what they like whenever they like to. The poor have fewer options. Agriculture is responsible for 80% of the water use and loss of vital biodiversity in this land. Staggering statistics and great pause for thought as it becomes an imperative we all need to become involved in. It is vital to ask : How is our food produced and what the environmental cost of it? Are pesticides used and what is their effect on the farm workers and wildlife on the farms?

location_farming2025There is a chain that brings the produce we buy from supermarkets we trust. No-one asks the questions about the production of the food and considers impacts as a result of those chains. The battery egg campaign that was waged against Woolworths is a case in point of how successful activism for the greater good can be achieved.

A consumer lobby group can make a radical impact on perception and practise if approached with the view to progression and review of current practises in farming for the food of South Africa. Considering the notion of environmental cost, the world’s eyes are on BP and the USA government because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Our reliance on fossil fuels makes us all complicit in the spill in some way, yet that responsibility is wavered when it is the consumer who places a level of trust in the chain from which we receive oil.

We are reassured in glossy ad campaigns that everything is under control but oil is big business and profit is king so the need for more and cheaper oil is still the driving force. Better time and resources have to be spent on renewable resources and fast tracking developments of other ways to power our cars and energy grids. I have been reading many varying news reports on the latest status of the oil leak – although leak sounds so pitiful, this is an artery that has been severed and the sutures being applied are not closing the wound in the earth.

On the PR side there are reassurances that everything is ‘sort of – about to be’ under control. And on the other lesser known press sites, the news is quite the opposite. The length of time required to stop this oil gash is not known. If you are going to give financial support please do to the Wildlife rescue groups who are trying to save the creatures they can from devastation.

There are other ways of doing things and producing the same results. We can function off sustainable and renewable energy – we can all eat well and be nourished through correct farming practises. The question is how much we are prepared to do in order to achieve that and will we consider the ‘cost’ or the overall benefit? If you would like to download the Agricultural Facts and Trends publication launched at the event or the presentations, please visit : http://www.wwf.org.za/media_room/publications The Living Farms Reference can also be downloaded by clicking http://www.wwf.org.za/what_we_do/outstanding_places/drivers_of_change/food_production/