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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Let people of SA be central in the decision over fracking. Letter by David Lipschitz in Cape Times on Friday 11th March 2016

According to your newspaper (March 10), the government will release their fracking findings today. Should fracking go ahead? Should we be concerned about the environment? Can there be compromise between environmentalists and frackers?

The problem in South Africa is much bigger than mining. We all know about the "resource curse."

Mining countries are worse off than countries without mines, even in Africa. The mining and mineral rich countries are growing slowly. The others are growing fast.

Why? Because countries without mines rely on their ingenuity, whereas countries with mines rely on their mines, and forget their minds.

Colonialists came here, initially for the bounty from our soil and then for our mineral wealth.

They took huge amounts of money and built their empires and their houses. Think castles, chateaux, mansions, manor houses, stately homes, with their hundreds of rooms, many servants, and huge grounds. And not only did their rich get rich, but many of their people got rich, too.

Nkandla fades into insignificance when compared with the grandeur of these massive houses and estates.

And through all this, the masses of South Africans remain destitute, dependent on the state. If the state decides to frack the Karoo and the coastal waters around Cape Town, then the state must give the profits to the people, so that the people become as rich as the state. We know that this is never going to happen.

We cannot blame the colonialists. It is a fact of the past, applicable in "white" countries and in "black" countries; applicable to white-on-white colonialism and black-on-black colonialism, applicable to religious colonialism and any type of colonisation where one people wanted something that another people had, or has.

We are in the 21st century, a century with more possibilities for the people than ever before if we choose to grab hold of the opportunities and the future, rather than corrupting our minds by staying in the past.

So, we can either spend the billions of dollars that would have been invested in fracking our gas resources to pollute our world and our minds for another 30 years - before we run out and then deal with a worse environmental disaster than the one we already have, probably with even bigger unemployment, more crime and more destitute people - or rather take the decision to immediately clean our act and install the alternative, clean energies, that we have now.

Our costs will be a lot less. Our health costs will be a lot less. And government will be doing its job of governance, looking after the land and its borders and the environment, thus making it as clean as possible so that its people can have healthy minds, healthy bodies and so that we can all be employed.

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