Extreme Environment

How environmental exaggeration harms emerging economies

By Ivo Vegter

Random Struik, R200

This is undoubtedly the most thought provoking book I have read for a while. Vegter is a South African journalist and columnist who writes for various publications such as The Daily Maverick.

His book is an eye-opener and sheds light on how we have been drawn in by media reports, extreme environ-mental issues and standpoints which we take for granted as gospel truths. We all take our health and environmental conditions very seriously and we have our pet causes we believe in, but have any of the issues we fight for been tested and properly researched as accurate? It is far too easy to climb on the environmental band wagon, or invest in a new miracle diet.

Vegter has jumped the fence and forced us to look twice before believing every report on looming environmental disasters and new contentious matters.

He maintains that many of these issues are poorly researched and that alarmist “cry wolf” environmentalists deliberately distort the facts, to get support for their causes. Many of these issues, like global warming, have stirred up unwarranted fears and are causing undue stress throughout the world. For instance, our retired justice Merwyn King warned during a presentation that sea levels would rise by eight metres in the next 100 years! What does this state-ment do for the coastal property market? In all probability it will be 10 times less at worst, judging by predictions made by university scientists.

We are scared stiff of what fracking in the Karoo may do to the ground water and countryside, but the SKA, which will deface the landscape permanently with huge dishes, roads and cables, seems to be fine.

No one tells us that contamination of ground water is extremely unlikely, as the fracking takes place about 2km below the water aquifers.

By 2035, we will require three times more electrical power than what we currently use. If we are so worried about global warming and carbon dioxide emissions, why are we building more coal powered power stations – and at what costs? The aged Fukushima nuclear power plant that was knocked out by a tidal wave has not killed one person – yet we are told by environmentalists how bad nuclear power would be for our country. Can we afford to not look at nuclear power? Other renewable energy sources such as solar power work out very expensive and are impractical to power an industrial nation. Who will pay for this?

South Africa is a developing nation and many of these environmental matters delay the forward momentum of our economy. As a country with 25 percent unemployment is it wise to get embroiled in first world hysteria on matters that stand to harm our economic future? Food for thought!

Brilliant book! – Ed Lemke