Climate change is real – but so is poverty. So compromise has to be the solution.
It’s an alluring argument: South Africa’s power woes will be over if the country moves to renewable energy and away from its dependence on coal and other hydrocarbons.
Environmental activist organisation Greenpeace believes that if moves are not made toward this now, we will be burdened with a significant carbon footprint for decades. They argue that coal is not only bad for the environment, it is also detrimental to the health of people.
These problems are not present with renewable energy, is the claim. Yet, that is, in some ways, a simplistic view. Technologies like solar and wind power have their drawbacks, including environmental ones.
Solar power requires huge battery banks (and batteries are made from toxic materials) to store power in its “down time”, while massive “wind farms” pose threats to birds, as well as being costly and difficult to recycle once components reach the end of their life.
South Africa is also a developing country which needs cheap, reliable power to drive economic growth and, because of this, should perhaps not be held to the same exacting standards as countries which have already had their industrial revolutions. Climate change is real – but so is poverty. So compromise has to be the solution.
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