Upon discovering sharks

Much is made of the Bull Sharks found in the waters of the lower Breede River, but I think we’re pretty safe about about 150km up the Orange.

Sadly, one of the many reasons that we might be safe is that there really isn’t a lot of water for sharks (or anything else) to swim in.

Groot Trek

Having loaded up the Ossewa – ‘n tradisionele vervoermiddel, veral in Suidelike Afrika – and all being well… we headed Oop North yesterday, via:

the M3 (for 4.8km), the N2 (1.3km), the M5 (3.6km), the N1 (4.2km), and then onto the N7 for the next 671km.

Eina – quite a ride. For those of you reading in the UK, it’s the equivalent of driving from Sheffield to just past Inverness. And you know that Inverness is a long way from everywhere, so “just past Inverness” is a near inconceivable distance.

Thus, I’m likely to be out of radio range for the foreseeable future, but posts will continue on 6000 miles…. via the seamless magic of WordPress.
As usual, please be aware that if some massive international incident, world war, political upheaval or mass outbreak of beaglitis virus has occurred, I will a) likely not know about it, and b) certainly not be mentioning it on the blog, because, as I am writing this, it hasn’t happened yet.

[EDIT: Actually, after I wrote this, but before we went away, there was some degree of local instability.]

Equally, if I die (or have died), you’ll only know when I don’t blog next Friday. Which will be good.

Good Friday, I mean – not great that I’ve thrown a seven.

Protest

Bit of a weird one, this. Weird because I’m writing something about a very fluid situation and I’m writing it four days ago*. So it might not make any sense by the time you read it. Hell, it might not make any sense by the time I’ve written it. I’m struggling already and we’re only 50-odd words in.

Today is supposed to be a day of national protest in South Africa. Well, as I’m writing this (four days ago), it is. It’s also a normal day of work (except it obviously won’t be) and right now no-one seems to know what to expect, save maybe for the Presidency and chums ignoring whatever protests do occur.

The thing is, South Africa is such a diverse and divided nation that any coherent mass protest action is terribly difficult to organise. While individual political parties and organisations can raise their own demos, no-one has really managed to successfully mobilise across all racial, political and social classes. And that’s why JZ and friends have happily got away with it all so far. It’s also why things need to change if today’s action is to have any effect.

Look, there’s enough support for the protest, but it’s completely fragmented. Already, as I am writing this (four days ago, remember) people – supposedly on the ‘same side’ – are questioning the basis for people’s anger, arguing and fighting about the legitimacy of some protesters with superb logic like: “if you didn’t protest against (a) then you can’t protest against (b)”. Because obviously there are rules for being allowed to express your viewpoint on any given subject.

It’s a phat, public mess and Zuma must be loving every minute of it.

Obviously, people need to look past their individual grievances and try to find common ground if this is to have any chance of working. And I do recognise that that is much easier to say than to do.

I believe that there are many reasons for getting rid of this rotten, corrupt regime. Whatever yours is, today is a day – even more than any other – when you need to recognise and respect that others may have their own reasons too.

 

* All will become clear on this bit tomorrow. 

Botswana earthquake explanation

Botswana suffered its largest ever earthquake on Monday evening – magnitude 6.5. Tremors were felt as far away as Johannesbeagle.

Immediately, environMENTALists leapt all over it, including a scaremongery article claiming that fracking (which may or may not be taking place in that area of Botswana) was obviously responsible.

After all, Botswana had never had an earthquake that big, just like it had never had an earthquake as big as the one which set previous record, pre-hydraulic fracturing.

So:

Well, Jeffrey Barbee (for it is he) admits in the very first line of his piece:

There’s not enough information to answer that scientifically

But… but… there is circumstantial evidence!!

Statistic likelihood would surely result from scientific investigation, though? And would be a result, meaning that there would be “enough information to answer that scientifically”. And you said… ag… never mind.

Also, because of the remote area in which this quake occurred, no-one can accurately say exactly where the epicentre was. Your 5km claim is therefore a bit of a stretch.

Fortunately, following the knee-jerk hysteria, there came informed, independent sanity, as Stephen Hicks, a postdoctoral research fellow in Seismology at the University of Southampton gave us this highly technical description of the real likely reasons for the quake.

We call these types of events ‘intraplate earthquakes‘. It is likely that the rupture occurred partly due to the gradual transfer of push and pull stresses from the East African Rift toward the more stable part of the continent. Occasionally, this stress is released along pre-existing weaknesses in Earth’s crust as earthquakes. It is fundamentally the same reason why quakes occasionally occur in other stable regions such as the United Kingdom and the midwestern states of North America.

Hicks doesn’t mention fracking at all in his detailed explanation of the factors leading to the earthquake, presumably because fracking was not one of those factors. However, predictably it does get brought up in the comments, where it is promptly debunked.

Still, if you’re the “director and founder of AllianceEarth.org”, you’ve done work for Al Gore’s Climate Reality and you released a 2015 film about the alleged secret roll-out of gas developments in Southern Africa, wouldn’t you try to get some extra mileage out of a completely natural phenomenon? 

(There’s not enough information to answer that scientifically.)

Ready to go

Today was the last free day we had before our trip away. There are a few more days before we go, but they’re not free. They have annoying stuff like lab work and spreadsheets lying in wait for me. And potentially a report waiting to leap out from behind a Tuesday afternoon and be dealt with.

So, obviously, we sorted everything out for our trip today.
It being our last free day.

No. No, we didn’t.

Instead of that, we sat outside in the sun with friends and discussed fracking, Theresa May and the ridiculous price of private education in South Africa. The conversation was lubricated by several (or more) bottles of wine, a couple of Bloody Noras* and (perhaps to a lesser degree) by some non-alcoholic gin and tonics. Mmm. I know.

For the record, I regret nothing – except maybe the G&T thing.

Anyway, consequently, there will be some panic this week. Hopefully not too much, but it would be foolish to not take the opportunity to worry a bit.

And I know all about not taking opportunities.

 

* A Bloody Nora is like a Bloody Mary,  but made with Henderson’s Relish.