From my vantage point here in South Africa, I am aware of the momentum of the major build-up to the next big United Nations world environment conference, COP 17, which will be held in Durban, the city where I went to school and university.
We hear of ‘the road to Durban’ on international news broadcasts and, daily, people of all ranks are making comments on the issues to be addressed at COP 17. The conference organisers have already announced that the availability of bottled water will be limited, or, perhaps, prohibited because Durban tap water is so good that anyone can drink water out of any tap – be it in a hotel room, restaurant or back garden. Curtailing bottled water will limit the environmental impact of all the plastic bottles, water transport, refuse transport, and so on. I agree with that – Durban municipal water is excellent everywhere.
I find other images also drifting through my mind, such as those of legendary scientist and philosopher Galileo, who dared to announce that he was of the opinion that it was not the sun that orbited the earth but that it was actually the other way around. He stated that it was the planets, including the earth, which orbited the sun. The estab- lishment of the day jumped on Galileo and he was threatened with dire consequences if he did not toe the establishment line and recant his claims. He was forced to recant to stay alive, but he was placed under house arrest anyway to make sure that he did not spread his views, and his book was banned.