South Africa: Precarious Planet - Choosing Earth, or Choosing Carbon


On 22 April, the world celebrated Earth Day. This should not have been another calendar event to express concern, share cliched nature images and retweet idealistic memes about our planetary home.

Dr Vishwas Satgar is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Wits. He is the principal investigator for Emancipatory Futures Studies in the Anthropocene and co-founder of the Climate Justice Charter process. He dedicates this article to Professor Bob Scholes, one of South Africa's leading scientists, who passed away on 28 April 2021.

A few weeks before Earth Day, some of the world's leading Earth scientists published an academic paper in a series of engagements on Earth's Future: it is titled: Identifying a safe and just corridor for people and planet. A crucial premise for this intervention is the realisation that for the first time in human history we have to consider the real risk of a destabilised planet. This is an existential risk that will determine whether we have a home that can sustain life.

The paper contains a conceptual approach that will inform the scientific framework of the newly formed Earth Commission. Central in its thinking is identifying a set of safe and just conditions, together with...

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