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Forget the news. The planet is dying.

What’s news?

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from the ups and downs of daily news, and take a look at an issue that didn’t make headlines today, but probably should have.

The Mail & Guardian reported a few days ago that we are in an age of systemic environmental breakdown. A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK apparently states, in gruesome detail, just how much trouble our planet is in.

Consider just a few of the facts that have been reported:

  • The last four years are the hottest on record
  • Since 1950, the number of floods worldwide has increased by 1500%
  • Extinction rates are 1000 higher than normal
  • About 45% of all insect species are going extinct
  • About 400 000 people a year are dying thanks to climate-change

Scary stuff. Kind of makes whatever happened in the news today seem pretty insignificant, doesn’t it?

Why does this matter?

According to the report, all of this is affecting the world in a number of ways:

  • Economic instability
  • Involuntary migration
  • Conflict
  • The potential collapse of social and economic systems

For a country like ours, which is heavily reliant on maize, all of this spells disaster. Global crop supplies are being threatened by heat and drought, and this year’s local crops don’t look good, which means we will need to import.

What’s going on?

These warnings have been coming for years but the world’s leaders haven’t been paying attention. To illustrate just how seriously our own government takes the environment, the report points out that our environmental minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, presided over the near-collapse of the water affairs department.

The report quotes legendary documentary filmmaker and conservation campaigner, Sir David Attenborough:

“If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisation and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”