22 March 2019

South Africa: Academics' Unsubstantiated Bombshells Trigger Panic Free of Accountability


'Apocalypse'. 'Dystopian nightmare'. 'Mass fatalities'. 'Catastrophe'. 'Cholera outbreak.' If one had to guess the source of these frightening prophecies regarding the fate of the Cape coastline, one could be forgiven for imagining they were issued by a paperback blockbuster author or a conspiracy-theorist podcaster.

This is a response to the article: Environmental management needs to be democratised

A small group of academics have made a habit of detonating unsubstantiated bombshells in the media, frequently via individuals with unambiguously political agendas, triggering public panic without any apparent burden of accountability.

According to Professors Leslie Petrik and Lesley Green, the apocalypse was set to kick off in late November of 2018, in the shape of an algal bloom detected via satellite imagery picked up by their colleague in Argentina.

Petrik asserted that "everyone playing in the sand will pick up infections". This was a given, but fatalities were on the cards too and she expressed concern, in an email addressed to Western Cape Provincial Government officials on 30 November that the City of Cape Town had not issued a public warning, given that many schools had now closed for the holidays.

The group went even further, engaging at least one politician, who...

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