‘HumaNature’ is a product of co-creation between the museum and members of the South African youth. The museum invited the youth to create photographs and writing about social-ecological issues of importance to them, to become part of the exhibition. While the invitation asked for either positive or negative messages about the human relationship with nature, those received all explored the continuing negative impact of humanity on the natural world. These contributions appear throughout the exhibition, and are a basis from which to rethink our relationship with nature.
Since the mid-1990s, the ways in which the human relationship to nature is represented in South African literature has changed dramatically. This reflects changes in our society and our cultures, and our growing awareness of the social-ecological crisis. Recent literature often demonstrates an increasingly respectful treatment of nature and of living things and emphasizes the deep issues that we need to resolve.Writers explore the deep links between culture and nature. They imagine the changes caused by pollution, and they imagine positive changes.
The changes in weather, or climate, that we experience today are caused by global warming. Global warming is caused by the pollution that is generated by industry, cars, and the farming of animals for meat, among other causes.
This pollution creates a blanket around the Earth that prevents the sun’s heat from being reflected back into space from the surface of the Earth, so the heat builds up. The blanket of pollution is overheating our home. This overheating causes changes in local or regional weather, which is also called climate.
Regional extremes of heat and cold are caused by the disrupted weather systems. Unusual regional cold is also a sign of the bigger problem, global warming. Different regions may experience more intense droughts or more frequent floods. South Africa has suffered both in recent years as we experience the changes in weather that are caused by global warming.
To take away the pollution blanket, we have to stop polluting. Humans have been on Earth for about 300 000 years, and it’s only in about the last 60 years that the amount of pollution that we generate has increased drastically. Changing the way we do things now will help to make sure that there is enough water and food for you and your family, that you don’t suffer extreme heat, or experience extreme weather and flooding where you live.
Learning is vital to the change that is necessary to halt global warming. Literature can play an important role in learning about the challenges and in bringing about change.
Governance systems that focus only on economic growth do not take into account factors such as quality of life or happiness. They don’t count the health of people or the environment as valuable, because these can’t be given a monetary value. Our present systems of government drive inequality and ecological degradation, and the majority of people continue to live in poverty in damaged and unhealthy environments.
Water is a vital resource that is increasingly scarce due to global warming. South Africa is a water scarce country and the changes in our climate threaten to make this difficult situation worse. Many authors are taking up water scarcity as a theme in their work and a number of the ‘Voice of the Youth’ contributions emphasized the threat of water scarcity.
The entire ecosystem upon which we depend for our food depends on the insects that pollinate the plants that are the foundation of the ecosystem. Without insects, life on the face of the Earth would largely disappear. The use of insecticides for agriculture is a short term, profit-driven tactic that severely damages the natural systems upon which we and all other animals depend for survival. The use of domestic insecticides contributes to this.
The relationship between humans and the other animals with which we share the Earth is perhaps the most significant element of the entanglement of humanity with nature. As individuals we have compassion for our pets and for wild animals, but we farm animals for food, often in very poor conditions, and destroy animals’ homes in order to build or to grow food for ourselves.We recognise the evils of colonialism, of the ways in which western peoples exploited the peoples of the former colonies. Might we one day come to a similar view on the way humanity treats other species?
Thank you for touring 'HumaNature'. We hope you enjoyed it.
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