Why the Hurry?

Budget 2013 – Economics AND Ecology

The term ecology was first coined by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. Haeckel derived the word from two Greek words : oikos meaning “household” and logos meaning “knowledge”.

And so ecology started off as the (scientific) study of the world as a “home”. And as time went by the term “ecosphere” was coined by as more and more thinking people when referring to Earth – a ball-shaped object in space, with limited resources, that is home to all living things.

Interestingly the word “economics” is also derived from the same Greek word – oikos – but this time with suffix “nomia” meaning management. In other words how we manage the earth as our “home”.

Wow. Where did we start going wrong ? Generally speaking “ecology” has remained unchanged, but economics has grown more to be “how we make money” with very little to do with how (at the same time) we continue to manage the earth as our home.

In a recent press release the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) acknowledged the efforts of the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, for aligning the 2013 annual budget with the broader vision and related objectives for a “shared future and shared plan” as set out in the National Development Plan: Vision 2030.

However, at the same time, the EWT also pointed out that the Budget Speech did not comprehensively address the budget and fiscal requirements to ensure the environmental sustainability (as set out in Chapter 5 of the National Development Plan: Vision 2030) of the proposed development path.

Three examples in particular of omissions from the Budget statement should get raise the hairs on the back of our necks : The conservation of country’s scarce water supplies; the environmental impact of mining activities; and the adaptation investments that are urgently needed for the mitigation of climate change.

What can we mere mortals do about these things ? Well, for a start we should stay informed on the state of our nation and the needs of our environment. And – going with the old adage of “Thinking globally and acting locally” – each and every one of us should find ways of helping our local structures – local government as well as local NGO’s to do what they are quite able to do to better manage our small part of the planet.

The final paragraph of the EWT Press statement sums it all up well :
“Furthermore, we support the government’s objective to build strategic partnerships to achieve the new developmental trajectory and aim to lead, support and collaborate on the development and implementation of strategic partnerships to facilitate the cost-effective mainstreaming of biodiversity considerations, including risks and opportunities, in the developmental agenda of the country.”