Earth Day 2013 – A tidal wave of innovation needed

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A pair of African Black oyster catchers. Photo credit: Chesney Bradshaw.
A pair of African Black oyster catchers. Photo credit: Chesney Bradshaw.

In my late teens I ran along Fish Hoek beach in the mornings, sometimes with my father, and we’d see little sand pipers race up to the water’s edge to find tiny sea creatures to eat.

Some years ago I was chatting to friends, who grew up in the area, on a hot summer’s morning in December right there at the end of the same beach near Clovelly corner. We were talking about growing up in such a beautiful place when I remembered that I had not seen sand pipers for years.

“What happened to all those sand pipers we used to see on the beach?” I asked one of my friends.

“All the disturbance in the dunes where they had their nests, you know, the houses, the people trampling the dunes, they wiped them out,” he said.

“You should see other beaches around the Peninsula. The 4×4 vehicles got rid of them there too. If you want to see them now you will have to drive out to Arniston.”

It took just 25 years and all those sandpipers are gone. All I have is a picture in my head of these tiny birds on the beach. My children never saw them.

On Earth Day it’s good to also reflect on the positive.

A few weeks ago while I was on holiday in Cape Town I saw three African Black oyster catchers at Klein Slangkop near Kommetjie. One of the world’s rarest species, now endangered, about 4,800 individuals are still around thanks to conservation. (But I doubt this number. I’ve rarely seen them – only one pair here and there.”

I am thankful for what we can still see today in nature. The efforts of many people who have conserved our wet lands, birds, animals, mammals and fish.

I’m inspired by the many who have come up with processes, products and services that are helping us to adapt to a resource-depleting world.

In no particular order, here are some of my green heroes:

  • The guy I met from the City of Cape Town at the South African Naval Day in April who is checking out companies who are polluting water.
  • The entrepreneur I spoke to at an environmentally friendly exhibition who is making handbags from recycled car tyre tubes.
  • The climate change activist at COP 17 promoting solar cookers.
  • The youngsters in Fish Hoek who are spear-heading the green guerilla project that encourages recycling and urban gardening.
  • The SSASI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) programme to motivate restaurants and supermarkets to not sell endangered species of fish.

It’s because of people like this who are and have made their contributions over the years that we still have left much to be positive about.

Nature’s bounty and splendour is disappearing fast but today let’s celebrate and enjoy what we have in the now.
Stay inspired
Chesney Bradshaw

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