The glob­al rate of ice melt has more than dou­bled since 1988 and could raise sea lev­els 27 cen­time­tres (near­ly 11 inch­es) by 2100. – World­watch, 2003

Poor farm­ing prac­tice has con­tributed to top-soil ero­sion, mak­ing some earth unpro­duc­tive for future generations.

We have used fire to pow­er vehi­cles and indus­tries, but the result­ing emis­sions now con­tribute to the glob­al warm­ing that threat­ens our resources.

Industry 1752876 960 720

Severe air pol­lu­tion is caus­ing the planet’s cli­mate to change

We have pol­lut­ed the air with tox­ins that destroy plants and ani­mal habi­tats, and even make us sick.

The world’s rich waste fresh clean water while a bil­lion peo­ple suf­fer because they don’t have it.

Since 1700, near­ly 20 per­cent of the world’s forests and wood­lands have dis­ap­peared.
– Nation­al Insti­tute of Pub­lic Health and the Envi­ron­ment, Nether­lands & Cen­tre for
Sus­tain­abil­i­ty and the Glob­al Envi­ron­ment, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son, USA2001

Bird extinc­tions are run­ning at 50 times the nat­ur­al rate due to habi­tat loss and oth­er con­se­quences of human activ­i­ty. – World­watch, 2003

The air we breathe

For decades humans have been pump­ing tons of green­house gas­es, such as car­bon diox­ide and methane, and oth­er pol­lu­tants, such as sul­phur diox­ide and lead, into the atmos­phere. These pol­lute the air and cause health prob­lems, such as lung dis­eases. The increase of green­house gas­es in the atmos­phere has caused Earth’s cli­mate to change. Aver­age tem­per­a­tures are grad­u­al­ly ris­ing, threat­en­ing bio­di­ver­si­ty, and ulti­mate­ly the sur­vival of our species.

The pow­er of fire

From the time hominids at Swartkrans har­nessed their first flame more than a mil­lion years ago, fire has been a cen­tral, some­times sacred, part of our lives. We use it to gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty, to pow­er our vehi­cles, to cook and even to send peo­ple into space.

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But fire has also had its part to play in weapons and destruction.A sym­bol of both good and evil, it can pro­tect us and help to nour­ish us, but it can also destroy us…

The water of life

We live on a unique­ly blue plan­et. Over 75% of the Earth’s sur­face is cov­ered with water. Water is essen­tial to each one of us, mak­ing up 60% of our bodies.

But despite its abun­dance, access to water, espe­cial­ly clean, fresh water, is lim­it­ed. Glob­al con­sump­tion is dou­bling every 20 years while the sup­ply is already over­stretched and poor­ly distributed.

Like many oth­er resources, the world’s rich­est coun­tries have good access to water, while in the world’s poor­est coun­tries, 1-bil­lion peo­ple suf­fer short­ages of clean, fresh water. In 25 years, this could grow to two thirds of the world’s population.

Water Use: Accord­ing to Johan­nes­burg Water, a per­son in South Africa’s biggest city used about 18 litres water per day in the mid-19th cen­tu­ry, 70 litres per day in the 1940s, and 160 litres per day by the end of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Added to this, our country’s pop­u­la­tion has sky­rock­et­ed over the last 150 years, plac­ing addi­tion­al strain on the ade­quate sup­ply of fresh water.

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Water scarci­ty is a huge chal­lenge in our times

Water usage tells a tale of dis­par­i­ty between rich and poor. Peo­ple in devel­oped coun­tries use about 500 – 800 litres of water per day on aver­age com­pared to 60 – 150 litres per day in devel­op­ing coun­tries, accord­ing to Unesco. This dis­crep­an­cy is also preva­lent in South Africa, where one toi­let flush (which uses 9 – 11 litres) in a wealthy home can be the equiv­a­lent of a person’s total use of water for wash­ing and cook­ing in a poor home with lim­it­ed water access. Use this chart to esti­mate how much water you and your fam­i­ly uses.

Return to the Exhi­bi­tion Guide.