It's a giant fail for SA on global wellbeing graph


It's a giant fail for SA on global wellbeing graph

We are very far from providing a good life for all while using resources sustainably, a study has found

Senior science reporter

The country Cyril Ramaphosa has inherited occupies a damning spot on a new global graph.
In a study that looked at 151 countries, researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK analysed which are providing a good life for all while using resources sustainably.
South Africa shares a spot in the worst region of the graph with Swaziland. Few countries fared well, but South Africa was an outlier even so.
“Imagine a country that met the basic needs of its citizens – one where everyone could expect to live a long, healthy, happy and prosperous life,” lead researcher Daniel O’Neill said.“Now imagine that same country was able to do this while using natural resources at a level that would be sustainable even if every other country in the world did the same.”
If everyone on Earth were to lead a good life within the planet’s sustainability limits, “the level of resources used to meet basic needs would have to be reduced by a factor of two to six times”, said O’Neill.
“Almost everything we do”, from “having dinner to surfing the internet”, uses resources in some way, but the “connections between resource use and human wellbeing are not always visible to us”.
The researchers used 11 social indicators and seven biophysical indicators to measure how countries were doing.South Africa’s worst marks in the social sphere were for: equality (almost 30 points below the boundary), healthy life expectancy (almost 20 fewer years of healthy life compared to the boundary) and sanitation (the percentage of those with access is about 20% lower than the threshold).According to a recent study by the Poverty and Inequality Institute, “South Africans remain sharply divided along racial and socio-economic lines. These challenges deepen existing social problems and may have adverse effects on long-run economic development and sustainable democracy in the country.”One anonymous participant in the study said: “Some are working while others are not. A person is nothing without money. Sometimes you get piece jobs, you get some money. You come back late from the job and you meet tsotsis who take away the little that you’ve got. You were hoping to go home and cook and they take the groceries away. You end up hating people.”
Our worst mark in the biophysical sphere was also, by far, the worst result on our whole report card: carbon dioxide emissions.
The boundary of what is acceptable sits at 1.6 tons emitted per person annually. South Africans, however, are responsible for 7.6 tons each, contributing to the greenhouse effect.
This means that our country is contributing to more heat being trapped by the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm up more quickly than it would naturally.

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