Globally, 2015 was the warmest year on record, with world temperatures exceeding the long-term average based on documented measurements taken since 1880. The previous record year was 2014, and 2010 before that.

Tree planting demonstration by Sammy Mashaba from Food and Trees for Africa (Oct. 2011)

Supported by scientific evidence suggesting a link to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, climate change officially became the subject of international negotiations almost twenty-five years ago – the first agreement to co-operate dates back to 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. Between then and now, the world has generated almost as much carbon as it did during the preceding century.

SANIRE is an active organisation, with over five hundred members and seven branches. It engages in a number of activities that generate greenhouse gases, ranging from council meetings to symposia and conferences, which require members to travel large distances in their private vehicles. Public transport is not an option in most cases, and driving a car to get one person from point A to B is a rather inefficient mode of transport: Typically, it means moving a ton of steel and plastic just to move a hundred kilos of flesh and bone.

“The problem with climate change is that it’s very large, and as individuals we seem quite small against it. It is easy for people to feel disempowered” (Bill McKibben)

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122 trees around three schools near Sun City (March 2011)

    

The way forward has to be somewhere along the lines of: Think global, act local! In order to contribute to a solution and to reduce SANIRE’s carbon footprint, a set of ‘green rules’ were drafted by Council and subsequently adopted at the 2009 AGM. Implemented from the following financial year, these rules reduced the electricity consumption at SANIRE’s office, lowered the use of printing paper and hopefully led to more members offering lifts and sharing their driving when attending meetings and conferences. The green rules, by the way, also spelled the end of bottled water at SANIRE organised events (see ABOUT US on www.sanire.co.za).

Starting in March 2011 with the planting 120 indigenous trees at three rural schools near Sun City, a number of initiatives have taken place which were organised by local SANIRE branches. Not all of these were successful in terms of the long-term survival of the trees planted. It turned out that young trees have natural enemies: goats, sheep, cattle, children looking for weapons, etc.

     
green3M. Stander addressing pupils at Fikadibeng Prim School near Potchefstroom (March 2014)

SANIRE is now inviting ideas for suitable greening initiatives or any other offset project to reduce its carbon footprint. Suggestions should be forwarded to the Free State and the Western Bushveld branches who have offered to take the lead in the current financial year. A total of R15 000 has been allocated in the 2016 budget for this purpose.

Those interested in the topic of climate change can follow any of the roughly 139 Million links suggested by Google when searching for the topic, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

For specifics on historic temperature changes, see https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201513

F Essrich