Baba Dioum, a Senegalese nature lover was once famously quoted as saying "In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.

Most of us, well the sensible, sane and rational ones at least, all agree that we love nature, we love animals, everyone loves the beach and sitting under a big tree. But do we actually understand these things; do we understand the critical role nature actually plays in our lives and all the piles of free stuff we get from nature? 

Have a look at the infographic on the value of trees, the simple things that a tree provides and we take it totally for granted. Recent studies show that trees around the world provide us humans with over $ 33 trillion worth of value in terms of cooling, carbon storage, erosion prevention and other services. $33 Trillion, I’m not certain I have the vocabulary to describe that in Rands, look at it this way, if you were paid $1 (or R10) per second for work, you would need to work for 310 000 years non stop to even get close to earning $33 trillion …it’s a lot of value…for free.

What do you pay for an evening at the movies for two, R150 or so? What would you pay to take a sunrise walk on the beach ….nothing? What do you pay for something that is most definitely not essential to your day-to-day life or survival, such as a litre of soft drink, probably around R10-R20 per litre? What do you pay for a litre of water, something you could most definitely not live without, a couple of cents per litre? It doesn’t really make a lot of sense does it? But this is the world we live in; I’m beginning to see Baba’s point.

So this week, take some time in nature, go for a walk on the beach, let your inner hippie out and go hug a tree and I mean really hug a tree, stop and listen to the sounds of the birds “getting it on” in the mornings when you wake up, try be conscious of everything natural around you, when you see a bee flying past, forget the two or three bee stings you’ve endured during your life and consider the $260 Billion (another ridiculously high number) in free pollination services they give us. Without bees pollinating, we have no fruit, no flowers, no agriculture and definitely no honey for that extra tasty cup of tea. A world without nature is bleak, yet we continue to take it for granted. Why, because it’s free. Isn’t it time we gave something back in return for all the free stuff?



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