Environment

Mum and the stolen iPhone

Over the weekend I met up with my friend the Diplomat and he presented me with an opportunity that I could not resist. We had not chatted since December when he spent his holidays in Cape Town and it was time to catch up. Although his time in the Mother city delivered on all the…

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‘The Life of I': Narcissism and (of course) you

“Paranoia is the self-cure for insignificance … the paranoiac is at the centre of a world which has no centre … to be hated makes him feel real: he has made his presence felt. To be unforgiveable is to be unforgettable.” (Emphases mine.) Australian social philosopher Anne Manne shrewdly begins The Life of I: the…

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Economy of luxury: We’re like rabbits caught in the headlights

Many readers will be familiar with Watership Down, Richard Adams’ wonderful, albeit sometimes terrifying, allegorical tale of a band of rabbits fleeing from a doomed warren (at the instigation of Fiver, a clairvoyant rabbit, who “saw” the imminent destruction of the warren by humans to make way for a building construction development). In the novel…

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Climate change: We have passed the 11th hour

In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio — one of the few so-called celebrities in the world who seems to care about matters ecological — produced a disturbing film on runaway climate change called The 11th Hour, directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. Like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth before it, it was a wake-up call,…

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How the movie ‘Noah’ reflects our ecological failures

Most people who are familiar with the Old Testament of the Bible know the story of Noah, who was chosen by God, or “the Creator” as the deity is referred to in this remarkable film, to give humanity another chance. Except that, in Darren Aronofsky’s version of the story, Noah understands his task differently: not…

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Commissioner Street: An experience of interwoven lives

It’s hard to describe some cities. Perhaps we try to give it an identity based on how it is commonly experienced. But Joburg is a very, very fragmented place – its parts just do not seem to sum up into any kind of cohesive whole. Most cities at least have a river that helps to…

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‘Maleficent': A sea-change in popular culture

Maleficent (Disney 2014; directed by Robert Stromberg) is a magnificent film, and it almost seems more than fortuitous that the eponymous, powerful faerie is not called Malevolent, but bears a name that rhymes with “magnificent”. Judging by this recent re-imagining of the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, which was rendered in its classic Disney animated movie…

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‘Nature’s Confession’ – climate fiction everybody should read

Award-winning novelist JL Morin’s latest novel, Nature’s Confession (Harvard Square Editions, 2014/15), is a newcomer to the stable of the newly named genre (or perhaps sub-genre) of cli-fi (climate fiction, associated with sci-fi) novels, and is a rollercoaster of a story that valorises creativity and imagination in the face of the imponderable climate catastrophe looming…

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Eskom and Sasol put a low price on life

By Alex Lenferna How much is a human life worth? How much is our future and that of our children worth? Well, the answer to both is “not too much” if Eskom and Sasol’s pollution-friendly tactics are anything to go by. Allow me to explain. On paper, South Africa has some pretty decent environmental legislation…

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Human extinction? It’s not just science fiction

At a recent science fiction conference (thematically called “East/West SF”), arranged under the auspices of the “Brain Korea” project by Professor Ilgu Kim of Hannam University, Daejeon, Korea (about an hour by high-speed train from Seoul), a number of excellent papers were presented, none more so than the one by American Peter Paik, titled: “Science…

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