The Earth Organization is an international, independent, non-profit group which seeks to reverse the dwindling spiral of the plant and animal kingdoms and our environment through education and action.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Movement of the People

This sign next to the Hudson River is a chilling reminder that the effect of pollution remains long into the future.
It is up to us to be the change we wish to see.

"The Movement of the People"
Published in the Namib Times, 19 April 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

Peacefully rowing down the Cuyahoga River in your boat, you think all if fine until suddenly the river catches on fire.  You go to the Hudson River to catch a fish, but there is a sign that says fishing is banned because the fish are so contaminated with toxins they cannot be safely eaten. You sit under a tree to listen to the birds but you hear none. You look up and there are no birds to be found.  You find out that the culprit is the pesticide DDT and it is also being detected in human breast milk resulting in 15% of infant deaths.  You decide to visit Storm King Mountain, a park renowned for its natural beauty, only to find that it is the proposed site for the largest power plant of its kind in the world.

You move to a new village called Love Canal.  A few years later, people start reporting an alarming number of miscarriages, cancer cases and nervous disorders. Some 56% of children are born with a birth defect.  Children playing in the rain puddles come back home with burns on their hands and faces from the water.  A few years later you find out that your village had been built on top of 21,000 tons of toxic waste.  Suddenly the government advises you to stop eating the fruits and vegetables you grow in your yard and to stop drinking the water.  In fact, they advise you to move.

You then decide to relocate near the beautiful Susquehanna River, only to be greeted by an eerie siren and to find out that 150,000 litres of radioactive waste has just been released into the river from the local Nuclear Power Station.  The consequence: a spike in infant and animal mortality, birth defects and thyroid cancer discovered only years later. 

All of these real events happened in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, along with many other similar events.  On April 22, 1970, some 20 million people, over 12,000 high schools, 2,000 universities and thousands of community groups protested and called for environmental reform.  They called it Earth Day- a grassroots movement of the people.  As a result of this movement in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency and 8 critical environmental laws were passed to protect the people and the environment.  

By 1990, the grassroots Earth Day movement included 200 million people in 141 countries.  This facilitated the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit where several international environmental laws were passed.  In 2009, the United Nations passed a resolution to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.  Now 43 years after the first Earth Day was formed by a grassroots movement of concerned people, over a billion people in 192 countries are raising environmental concerns on the same day making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”-  Margaret Mead

Thursday, 18 April 2013

How Many Planets Do We Need?


"How Many Planets Do We Need?"
Published in the Namib Times, 9 April 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

It is time we rethink our addiction to limitless growth.  We are using the planet like a credit card, selfishly withdrawing too much while leaving the debt for future generations to cope with. 

The environment is a global commons which people often exploit in order to increase their own maximum individual benefit.  Meanwhile the greater global impact gets ignored. As a result, we are over using our earth’s resources.  In fact we are currently using the resources at a rate of 30% more than what can be regenerated. 

According to the Global Footprint Network, at our existing worldwide rate of resource use, we need 1 ½ planets to sustain the present level of development and consumption.  If global resource use continues to expand at the modern rate, then we will need 3 planets to sustain the earth’s population in 2050.

Presently Namibia needs 1.15 planets to sustain itself, meaning that as a whole the Namibian population is not living sustainably.  In future, Namibia could become even more unsustainable if our goal is to develop in the same manner as the first world.  European countries need nearly 3 planets and the United States needs about 4 planets to sustain their population at existing rates of development and consumption.

Clearly something has to give as we only have 1 planet.  Some 40% of all living species on Earth are at risk of going extinct and 20% of all freshwater species have gone extinct due to human activities.   If the present rate of soil damage continues, we have only about 60 years of topsoil left in the entire world for growing food.  Currently, 40% of human deaths are caused by environmental pollution.   The worst impacted are the poor who have far less access to resources including health care. 

The writing is on the wall.  Our present limitless growth will lead to the mass suffering of future generations.  They will not be able to sustain themselves from the damaged planet we are leaving them unless we make serious changes now and look at truly sustainable options for development.  Although “sustainable development” seems to be the latest buzz word, few people grasp the true meaning.  Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

In order to live truly sustainably, then we need a paradigm shift in how we think and behave. We must take pressure off of the planet’s resources by lowering our consumption and population and increasing resource efficiency.  We must limit our use of non-renewable resources such as oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, phosphates, and other minerals.  We should sustainably make use of renewable resources such as solar energy, air, wind, water, soil and plants. 

It is time for us all to make changes in order for future generations to survive.  After all, "the earth is not ours; it is a treasure we hold in trust for our children and their children." - African Proverb

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Please Comment By April 24, 2013 - Husab Uranium Mine


Please make your voice heard and comment by April 24, 2013 on the Husab Uranium Mine [Swakop Uranium (Pty) Ltd] Environmental Impact Assessment Report Amendment. 


The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report amendment for the proposed changes to the Husab mine is available for public review. 

Electronic copies of the EIA report amendment will be distributed to the following authorities and  parastatals: 
• Ministry of Environment and Tourism – Directorate of Parks and Wildlife (MET:DPW); 
• Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME); 
• Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MWAF); 
• National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHCN); 
• Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS); 
• Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW); 
• Chamber of Mines (CoM); 
• NamWater; 
• NamPower; 
• Erongo Regional Council; 
• Arandis Town Council; 
 Swakopmund Town Council; and 
• Walvis Bay Town Council 

Full hard copies of the scoping report are available for review at the following public places: 
• National Library of Namibia (Windhoek); 
• Swakopmund public library; 
• Walvis Bay public library; and 
• Arandis public library. 

Electronic copies of the report will be made available on request (on a CD). 

To ensure that your comments are included in the final EIA Amendment Report, these should be provided at the public open days and/or be sent in writing to the e-mail address/fax provided below by Wednesday, 24 April 2013. 

In writing to SLR via fax (+264 64 403 327) and/or e-mail (wpetrick@slrconsulting.com or rchristians@slrconsulting.com). 

If you have any related questions, the contact details of the consultants are listed below: 

Werner Petrickwpetrick@slrconsulting.com 

Robyn Christiansrchristians@slrconsulting.com

Liezel Swan, Office Administrator

Email:lswan@slrconsulting.com
Mobile:+264 81 829 6782
Tel:+264 64 402 317
Fax:+264 64 403 327

SLR Environmental Consulting (Namibia) (Pty) Ltd
House Schumacher
6 Tobias Hainyeko Street, Swakopmund, 
Namibia



Friday, 5 April 2013

Our Great Elder Namib



"Our Great Elder Namib"
Published in the Namib Times, 28 March 2013.
By Marcia Stanton

Once upon a time, our Great silent Elder Namib lived; she was older than the rest- 55 million years old in fact. She was a remarkable caretaker and was the guardian of the world’s most magical animals that were different from any other animals in the whole world. You could see right through some while others blended in with the earth so you couldn’t see them at all. There were big ones and tiny ones- some lived in a little bush that held water in its leaves; others made dens under the sand. The tiniest most colourful plants lived all over the surface while 2,000 year-old plants had the best view in the desert. Birds came from all around the world to visit this special Elder because they loved her and they entrusted her to care for their young.

The ocean’s fog provided clean drinking water and there was plenty of food. The light of the sun and the moon illuminated the breathtaking scenery by day and by night and the wind brought with it the warmth and the cold. There must have been billions of stars in the sky at night! Oh what a beautiful Elder, our Great Namib.

Humans became good friends of the Great Elder and found shelter in her desert. The children spent countless hours playing with her. Humans loved her dearly and were thankful for her gifts, but one day a new group of humans arrived that started hurting her, our quiet sensitive Great Elder. They poisoned, bullied and beat her up in the interest of money and fun, until one day she had scars all over her body, scars that even the moon could see at night. No one place was left unscarred.

Some humans were nice and tried to protect her, but they got bullied too.  Other humans knew our Great Elder was suffering, but they thought it was better to befriend the bullies and ignore what they were doing to her. This gave the bullies even more strength to destroy our Great Elder. The human children were heartbroken and they hated to see their friend suffer.  Although they feared they were too small and insignificant in the eyes of the adult humans, they tried to protect the Great Elder anyway.  When the bullies threw garbage on her, the children picked it up. They cried vast tears each night for their Great Elder and prayed that she would no longer have to face such abuse.

While the children were crying, the bullies continued. They even started poisoning all the water and food. They killed the magical plants and enchanting animal friends, including the babies! These animals fought to stay alive until one day they gave up.  They could not survive the constant torment from the bullies, and they disappeared forever. Our Great Elder Namib and all her friends died that day.  This is how it came to be that we lost the world’s oldest desert.