“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife, are in fact plans to protect man.” -Stewart UdallMy visit to the Water Sisulu Botanical Garden
During my visit I made specific observations and identified some interesting fauna and flora and this is my photo journal. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden celebrates, growing wonderful plants, offering jobs opportunities and therefore working with dedicated whom some have been employed since the first day. They celebrate the learning of South Africans natural heritage, providing aesthetic safe natural environment as well as brining large sums of people together, from 27000 in 1990 to 180000 in 2006.
The False Olive is the horizontal bush behind me.
One of the most interesting trees I came across was the Natal Guarri (Ebenaceae) tree, on the left. The roots or tiny barks of this tree was used as a toothbrush by chewing it.
There was even a lot of information about historical rocks or minerals. There was a whole timeline path you could follow and it felt almost like time travelling because there were rocks at every beacon from that time as well as the names of the apes from the human revolutionary theory
Here are some more examples of the fauna and flora found in the South African biodiversity:
The Botanical Garden is not only home to plants but a diversity of insects and birds too:
More information on plats as a food type, as medical use and cultural and mystical purposes in Africa:
Did you know that we as humans have relationships with trees?
I had an interview with four people who shared with me their different experiences they have had with a tree “The meanings we find in these stories influence the choices we make when we plant trees in the city, they alter the ways that we trim and control the tress, and, finally, they inform our decisions to fell them”(Dean 2015: 162). Trees not only provide, symbolise class, create associations, but can be unruly and refuse to conform to humans and are not submissive
The Tree of Service
When I interviewed Mischa she immediately thought of a specific tree in their back yard as a child. The tree always stood proud and tall and acted as an anchor to bring the whole family together, especially on her birthdays. They spent all their family days under the cooling shadow this tree provided, in the hot Pretoria summers. She got very nostalgic as we were talking and it brought back more and more childhood memories for her. Memories of her running through the sprinkler and splashing in blown up kiddies pool in this great tree’s shadow. For such small girls, this great tree also created fear in Mischa and I, because the tree casted a scary silhouette in a storm of a man scratching the windows.
The tree of Power
As children, Arno and his brother used to climb a marvellously big tree in their backyard that grew next to their granny flat. They always wanted to have their very own tree house, but as they never got one, the little inventors made a plan. The two brothers helped each other and carried crates up the tree to the highest strongest grooves and tied them down with belts to the branches. This created a place to sit and they stayed up there for hours talking and watching the sunset and birds fly by. It was the closest they would ever come to having a tree house, but it was perfect for them because they had their brotherhood and shared a tree as their escape place. Trees have a power to bring humans together.
The Tree of Heritage
-Megan’s Yellow Thorn Tree
For Megan it brings back sad memories because they had chopped down her favourite tree as an child. What fascinates me is that even though it was a thorn tree, Megan was never afraid to play around it and fly on the swing that used to hang from it. When I asked her if she was not scared of the thorns, she said that it never bothered her and that she just always wore shoes. But that the thorns were the reason they had chopped it down, she said sadly, thus making it an unruly tree as well. The thorns reminded her of Christ’s thorn crown and therefore it is a heritage tree.
The Unruly Tree
My mother went to Namibia for a while, where she fell in love with the only eucalyptus tree that grew proudly in Aus, in the Namibian dessert. It awoke a lot of emotions inside of her and made her realise that we here in South Africa are chopping down these glorious trees, because scientists say that it takes up to 800 litres per day. But ironically she finds this tree growing in a dessert town. The tree even survived when it was miraculously snowing in Aus back in 2012. This tree is originally from Australia where coala beers use it for staple food, it provides the sweetest nectar for honey bees, we use it for oil with healing qualities, as well as shelter for birds and animals, and as shade and a beacon for the locals of Aus to get together. Therefore it makes my mother anger that they have laws against this tree in South Africa and demolishing it, because it has so much to offer in contrast to the plants that are well kept around the tree with nothing to offer.
Trees are disliked when they are not submissive to human control or rules. People create laws against trees, but in contradiction they loose everything the tree has to offer. These trees are claimed to steal too much water of our dry land, but how is it that the tree can grow in desserts? The trees adapt to the African environment and they have became apart of our landscape, our identity and our heritage, like the Jacaranda tree for example. Instead of the government focusing on people and factories that are polluting our rivers and dams. Humans can grow attached to trees and “We like to tell stories about city trees. The stories shape our thinking, but more materially they shape our management of the trees”(Dean 2015: 162).
These images triggers nostalgia in people being interviewed. Nostalgia means having a longing for a happy memory in the past. It is often mistaken that the memory can be sad, but this is not true, because one does not miss something negative, however one can become sad in the current moment because of missing the memory, like a place, event or person. Here are some more nostalgic photographs that were associated with the memories of trees.
As Nixon states in his article “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the poor” that humans are lethal to the environment and then contradict themselves by the present activisms. “Violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of decayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, on attrition violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all” according to Nixon.
Violence is only a source of entertainment nowadays viva the media. People only respond to the large eye catching problems. Slow violence is just as bad as any other kind of violence, but in fact the issue escalates because it is being ignored. People need to understand slow violence affects not only people but the environment around them as well, in the long term. The consequences will be worse for the generations to come.
The Greenhouse Effect
Let’s put aside for a moment that the earth has a natural greenhouse effect.
Radiation warms the planets atmosphere and cause it to be of a higher temperature of what the atmosphere would normally be. The average temperature should be 15°C in the earths atmosphere. There are several primary gases included in the greenhouse effect, these are carbon dioxide, vapour of H2O, ozone, methane and nitrous oxide.
Humans activity such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are leading to an increase in the natural gasses. So even if there are natural gasses and process taking place already, humans interrupt the cycle and cause it to escalate, worsening the consequences. Deforestation not only causes a lack of clean oxygen but also cause animal species to be in the dangerous of becoming extinct, because their natural habitats are being destroyed along with nests and possibly injuring animals as well.
Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is the main pollutant that is warming Earth. Though living things emit carbon dioxide when they breathe, carbon dioxide is widely considered to be a pollutant when associated with cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. In the past 150 years, such activities have pumped enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise its levels higher than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years.
Airflow is reduced and replaced with warm air inside the atmosphere, which is where the “Greenhouse effect” gets its name from. Greenhouse gasses rise and get trapped in the earths atmosphere causing a warm blanket along with some of the heat from the sun with significant implications to retreat glaciers, sea ice and level and rainfall. With nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide causing air pollution as it was believed 30 years ago, and up to 10 years ago air pollution was believed to have just been a local issue. But now new studies show that air pollution shifts across different continents and ocean basins because of long-range transport. The results are trans-oceanic and trans-continental (as in transported) plumes in atmospheric brown clouds, which contain micron sized particles such as aerosols. Atmospheric brown clouds, ABCs for short, can dim the surface by absorbing and reflecting sunlight. This “dimming effect” is further enhanced by aerosols that include nucleating more droplets. This creates an increase of solar radiation reflected by the clouds. It also has a “surface cooling effect” and causes a decrease in h2O vapour and therefore slows the hydrological cycle down. BUT the absorption of solar radiation by certain organics as well as black carbon, increase the heat in the atmosphere and tend to amplifying the effect of greenhouse warming and causing ice to melt that serve as a natural habitat to certain animals like ice bears.
In conclusion, people need to start taking in account that we are stealing away from our generations to come, whom will never experience earth as we did. We need to not only make people aware of the dangerous we face on planet earth, but we need to start acting on it immediately! This is the time NOW to start learning from our mistakes.
Venus, Titan and Mars also contain gasses causing a greenhouse effect in their atmospheres.
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“I don’t mind if I get a boy or girl one day… As long as it’s a healthy puppy.”
This photo essay documents personal experiences of pets, with reference to the article “The Companionship Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness” by Donna Haraway.
Humans have a bond with their animals and in a sense share a life together within their “significant otherness” (Haraway 2007). Throughout their history pets have always been important and seen as part of the family. They play a big role in our lives and are like children to us as humans and are also referred to as such by Donna Haraway. Humans find dogs and other pets more trustworthy because they are indeed loyal.Wet nose kisses are better than what any human can offer.
Matewis kat is named after the cat character from the children’s show called “Liewe Heksie”, based on the stereotype that witches own black cats. Kat has such an individual and independent personality, we call him Kat for short. Whenever you try to move him from a spot he looks at you in disgust, as if he is saying (in a sir voice) “How Dare you”. He thinks he is the king of the street and believes that he really is royalty. He is like Cuzzco from Emperor’s New Groove- “No touchy, touchy!”. Kat is so fussy; he refuses to drink water out of the bowl you just poured in for him, because it’s not “fresh” enough- He wants it straight from tap! He insists on a new bowl of food when the dog might of stolen a bite out of his. He never shares or gives love- but I am the only human who can cuddle with him. He pretends to not like it, but spins in secret.
At the first impression Boesman comes across as a vicious dog because of his toned body and saber tooth tiger-like teeth, obviously exaggerated. But surprisingly he is the most loving and tolerant dog I have ever come across. Boesman is a crossing between a Great Dane and Boerbull, but own the best qualities of both. He is unbelievably patient with puppies from the size of his paw to naughty children that ride him like a horse.
Boesman sits quietly when the kids climb on and around him- he never shows his teeth or is of any danger to the kids, rather like a father figure. He is very territorial and protective, over children especially. He shares his big bowl of food with the little puppy and picks out the food carefully while the puppy crawls into his bowl.
Lola is our Miniature Maltese Poodle, so basically she looks like a Maltese puppy forever. You would expect her to be this lap doggy- as they were first bread for princesses back in the day. She is named after lyrics “Lola, she’s a show girl” and “Lola gets what Lola wants” because she seemed so girly at first and a typical dumb blonde. But she is nothing like that, she is such a tomboy. Lola likes to roll in the mud and jump in the piles of autumn leaves. Whenever someone is gardening she helps them dig big holes in the ground. Her favourite activities include catching inscets and being Boesman’s side kick. She is always running by his side ready to protect, kicking out the grass as she barks. She is very playful and loveable, but can’t survive without humans; she needs human interaction 24/7 and someone to look after her.
Bunny Wunnies and Ginnie Winnies
Fiffy and Fluffy
These are my two bunnies and guanine pigs. They are sweet little, innoucent animals who are very kind and caring. Whenever I want to clear my mind I just go sit by them for a while and it really does help turn my mood around. They are very therapedic. The bunnies would not only lick and clean each other but would also lick my feet clean and hop on me and feel my heart beat. The guanine pigs are more verbal and call me whenever I just walk past from a distance. I have gotten so attached to them because I got them as little babies and I have seen them grow up. One day when I got back home from varsity, I ran straight to their cage and I was so shocked to see how much they have grown in just 2 weeks- when I saw them last. It made me burst into tears because it felt like my own babies have grown up and that I lost sharing some part of their life or childhood. Mostly because they started to feel a bit alienated by me, whereas before they were so tame. But I have now accepted that they are just grown up and do not really want to be cuddled as much. This made me already realise at the time what mothers feel like when they see their own human children go off to varsity or move out. It made me have more sympathy for my own mother. These little animals make you feel so special physiologically because they are dependent on you.
The Anthropocene is the time period that we, as human live in today, described in this quote from Kat Lahr; “Humans have wandered the Earth for thousands of years, but never has our capacity to alter the Earth’s ecosystem at a larger scale been more prominent than it is today”. Anthropocene is a geological epoch that differs a lot from any other epochs. Epoch being the outcome of human activities on earth, according to Steffen et al (2011: 843 & 847). These factors include the following:
Increased use in fossil fuels
Destruction of the natural biomes
Higher levels of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)
Production of artificial/unnatural materials
Some parts of nature are getting extinct in a faster state than it normally would, fauna and flora species specifically. This is known as 6th mass extinction (Waters et al 2016: 2-8). This article aims to show that Humanities is just as important as the soundscape of the Anthropocene in order to provide information about the environment around us (Gisli et al 2013:7).
For a couple of days I paid close attention to the sounds I was surrounded by, every time I entered a new environment. Unfortunately I have not been exposed to the outside world of social life and the rat race that continues to haunt every individual working in the corporate industry, because I have been slaving away, day and night for Diane Victors project. The only sounds I heard were the sound of a packet of crisps opening and crunching in my mouth, from the very expensive vending machine downstairs (which reminded me of consumerism and littering being an effect thereof). Other sounds were the loud noises of cars and police swishing by the building on Lynnwood Road, reminding me of the CO2 been lead out into the sky, sending a tear down my eye. Coming home at 2 am, I would hear the sound of a tennis ball being hit from side to side on the court across the street, making me think of how unaware these people are in their own world what is happening to the biodiversity around them and how we destroy velds to big houses and tennis courts, potentially killing fauna, flora and insect and bird habitats. It does concern me however how the sounds of organisms such as plants in the wind and animals are suppressed by the sound of a physical man-made environment or in other words “human generated sound”, (Whitehouse, 2015:57).
After talking to my mother, who was one of the first pupils to matriculate at Hoerskool Montana in Pretoria I realised how quickly areas become populated by humans and their activities. The area used to be mostly veld and plots, whereas today there are buildings everywhere with unnecessary shopping centres popping up all over. One of her fondest memories was picking the red wild flowers, called “Jakob Regop”, that used to grow everywhere. Today the only place where I have seen these flowers are in our garden, only because my mother has kept the seeds from the flowers. She also had to harvest and replant the seeds after we moved away. The sad thing is that these flowers grow so easily, because they are wild (you literally just need to throw the seeds in your garden) but that they are nowhere to be seen. Interesting enough the first flower to be grown in space by NASA, according to RSG radio station, belongs to the same species of this red wild flower. Which emphasises how easy this flower is grown but that it is rarely seen on the streets.
This just shows me the change in biodiversity from one generation to the next. I stay close to the Cradle of Humankind, and this area also used to be only velds and nature reserves. Within a couple of years I have widest residences, a mall, a hospital and schools being build around this area, getting closer and closer to the Cradle of Humankind itself. It scares me to realise that I do not even have to ask the elderly coming from Krugersdorp how the area was before, because development has taken place so quickly.
In conclusion our soundscape reveals that we are living in the Anthropocene and the Anthropocene is evidenced by the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is proven by listening to the soundscape around us and realising that there is a lack of sounds made by nature such as birds. Most of the sounds we hear on a daily basis are made by humans or human-made things, which are all a part of the Anthropocene. This has made me aware that the Anthopocene has led to the loss of biodiversity and natural habitats. Humans are too focused on making life comfortable for ourselves and are destroying our world around us without even realising it sometimes, therefore this blogs aims to make you aware of these issues.
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In South Africa we produce 255 million tones of coal a year and we consume more than three quarters thereof in our households. The quarter that is left is exported to other countries, More or less 77% of our country’s energy needs come from coal and the amount of coal consumed on the continent of Africa that comes from South Africa alone is 92%. There are five main coal companies in South Africa. These large companies are Glencore Xstrta, Exxaro, Anglo American plc, South32’s South African Energy Coal and the most obvious, Sasol Mining. There are two kinds of mining operations in South Africa, namely open-pit mining and sub-surface mining.
This blog post uses theories of P. Holm ‘Humanities for the Environment—A manifesto for research and action’ (2015) and Shelby Grant and Mary Lawhon in their article, ‘Reporting on rhinos: analysis of the newspaper coverage of rhino poaching’ (2014) to create awareness of the environmental concerns surrounding the issues of coal mining in South Africa and the lack of change that is taking place coming from both the public as well as the government’s side. In doing so analysing and giving critique of three online media articles. These are ‘GrounUp: Mpumalanga environmental crisis- why is nobody listening?’ from Daily Maverick (2014), ‘How Does Large-Scale Mining Affect Agriculture?’ from miningfacts.org (2011) and ‘The South African Coal Roadmap’ Sanedi from (2013).
Who and what are the drivers of change?
The mining industry are taking up all the land destroying biodiversity and causing pollution. The following are people against these actions; scientists, academics, conservation organisations, tourism authorities, NGOs, WWF-SA and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural policy.
What is happening?
For years no change has been taking place, despite all the warnings that have been sent out about the growth in the mining industry and the negative impacts on the environment, including the water and food security, particularly in Mpumalanga, South Africa. It’s like a land war between these two industries.
What can be done and How?
Assessments have to be made of the impact of coal mining on H2O resources, potential farmland as well as potentials in tourism. Government departments have to agree on restricting mining in certain areas, areas containing H2O in particular and biodiversity or that are potential farmlands to provide food for South Africa in the future.
What are the means to do it?
More south Africans should start questioning the dominance and insist on the improvement of mine planning, for resources to be protected in a more successful manner and for cooperation from the Department of Mineral Resources to do so.
Do the drivers for change relate to the “Great Acceleration” of human technologies, power and consumption?
The “Great Acceleration” is defined as “human technologies, powers and consumption in [of] the last 70 years that has operated as a key driver of Global Change. These human advances have come with an alteration of the planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, rapidly rising species extinction rates, and the generation of atmospheric greenhouse gases, which in turn are catalysts for adverse weather patterns and increased ocean acidification, the consequences of which will condition life on the planet for centuries to come” (Holm, 2015:980). Pollution caused by coal mines can be linked to this term. The articles argues that coal mines, prospecting and applications rights take over 61% of land area in Mpumalanga. The fact that coal mines causes carbon dioxide to be released into the earths atmosphere, makes it easily to relate to the “Great Acceleration”, because it is done purely for the benefits of mankind. There is an increase in the loss of potential farmland and a decrease in H20 available resources. It is a concern that large areas are consumed for mining, because the negative effects on the environments are irreversible, not only does it cause water, air and ground pollution but it also destroys habitats and human health. These problems are long-termed and will take more than a 100 years to be rehabilitated. Farmers usually consider next generations, but miners do not. Another point is that it not only effects the mine site but extended areas far beyond it, contamination can also spread by water.
How does the absence or presence of solutions relate to “The new Human Condition”?
As humans we either react on the situation by ignoring it or/and increase the problem, or we help out with solutions; The “New Human Condition” refers to how the consequences and responsibilities of environmental concerns make us, as humans, react (Holm, 2015:983). The articles clearly state that there is an absence of solutions to “the New Human Condition”, because we are being ignored by our government and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), whom are failing at their task at policing the impacts of mining on the environment. The minister does have to power to change mining rights but does simply not respond to the outcry. People standing up on these issues are being put down by society because they do not realise themselves the potential threats. The articles also state that we need to create an awareness to educate the public on these problems and motivate them to question authorities.
Do the proposed solutions engage with the business/Corporate sector?
The article on ‘GrounUp: Mpumalanga environmental crisis- why is nobody listening?’ from Daily Maverick (2014) state that coal mining companies fail to engage with the “mine-affected” communities and claim that they create more job opportunities than the agriculture and tourism industries, but they are in fact employing less people, whereas only a handful are fulltime employed. All mining companies have licences that require “concurrent rehabilitation”- but this is not happening, the trucks used to transport the coal also releases gas into the atmosphere. Eskom had to recently ban these trucks from driving on weekend because of all the road accidents they caused. The methods to regulate mining, but the action required to do so from the government is entirely absent. According to ‘How Does Large-Scale Mining Affect Agriculture?’ from miningfacts.org (2011), Corporate sector has a social responsibility by supporting the agricultural diversification as well as expansion through programs. Examples of these are Newmont Ghana Gold’s Ahfo Agribusiness Growth Initiative, that has provided 1368 farmers with training to increase their productivity and business skills in agriculture. Xtrata does work with some vineyard operators in Australia. They ensure that viticulture and certain water resources are not destroyed by underground mining.
Do the proposed solutions and means to do it stem from collaborative processes of research, stakeholder engagement and public participation?
Assessments have to be made by experts on the impacts of coal mining, although assessments have been made in the past, we need to start on a new level, according to all three articles. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) need to restrict mining rights and policing the impacts of mining on the environment. The public has to be educated on the negative implications of coal mining in South Africa, particularly in Mpumalanga on themselves and their surroundings. South Africans need to stand together demand certain steps to be taken by the DMR.
Are the solutions translated into practical means that can easily be achieved by the public?
The articles do not state exactly how the public can get involved to achieve these solutions by themselves or what the practical means are, but the three articles do states that the public can make an awareness of the issue itself. The articles motivate South Africans to stand together and also to educate other people of these problems. Therefore it might be hard for the public to act out, but it is possible if one were to look at further solutions. The problems is that rarely people are willing to make it their own problem or they do not have the inisative to problem solve It could be hard for the public to achieve these solution. This is also because mining companies have refused to agree with the communities in their surrounding areas, that are being affected by the mining waste, in the past. People feel voiceless and therefore less people tend to talk about the problem.
Public awareness is made possible through the media, focusing on issues such as the pollution caused by coal mining. Articles on social media can provide not only the root of the problem in our communities as well as societies, but can also provide possible solutions. It also provides a discussion causing more people to join in and interact socially. In Holm’s theory of “Great Acceleration” it explains how humanities have a needs that need to be provided by large mining industries and in conclusion a public reaction. The amount of pollution caused by coal mining in South Africa is so large that the participation from both the public and business and corporate sector are required and agreements from both sectors, as well as some more strict licensing and rights concerning the land areas. Both sectors have so far had different reactions, but ironically both have seemed to ignore the problems caused by coal mining and the affects thereof in our surrounding areas and resources such as fertile ground and water (H20). This truly is a land war between these two industries.
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