6000.co.za on grida.no

Indeed.

While I was enjoying the hospitality of the local… er… hospital yesterday*, some of my recent photos of Theewaterskloof

…were being used (with permissions and credits, I hasten to add) on the website of Norwegian environmental NGO, GRID Arendal.

GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 to support environmentally sustainable development by working with UN Environment and other partners. We communicate environmental knowledge that strengthens management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity building services.

Now you know.

 

GRID-Arendal have been doing a lot of work on water provision and sustainability across Africa, and this article (with my photos) details Cape Town’s current plight for their readers around the world.

As I mentioned earlier in the year, I’m also looking forward to having some of my snaps published in other publications this year (and some in a book due for publication in September 2019!).

 

* with apparently what should be a positive outcome [champagne bottle emoji] [I’ll keep you informed emoji].

Day Zero moved back

As agricultural water use is throttled (and with all the implications thereof), Cape Town’s impending Day Zero has moved back almost a month to 11th May.

Interestingly, Day Zero is now described as:

The Day We May Have To Queue For Water

rather than the previous incarnation, which was:

The Day The Taps Will Be Turned Off

And there is obviously some debate as to whether this good news should have been announced. But if the City wasn’t to announce this, would they not be accused of scaremongering once the media got hold of the story. They tried to slip it out – there wasn’t much of a fanfare to be honest – but such is the massive public interest in the water crisis, it was never going to slip under the radar. But will this stay of execution now result in residents using more water as they see the problem as having been solved? Quite possibly, although it clearly isn’t.

As one twitter user (it was The Guru) quipped though, we’re still very much lost in the woods, and nowhere near out of them.

That said, it might all be sorted after the weekend, as the National Department of Water and Sanitation are motivating for a 3 day weekend of prayer and mediation [sic]:

Obviously, this will work and Day Zero will become just a dot in the distance. One wonders why they didn’t just do this before and save us all this bother. To be fair, I’d just settle for a 3 day weekend. They’ll probably argue that including Friday allows for Islamic involvement in the process, but the more cynical amongst us have surely already noticed that there is some rain in Cape Town’s forecast for Friday:

which might actually be a double bonus:

Looks like next week is party week. So lit fam.

Shrinkage

Cape Town is making the international news again. It’s not good news this time though. Even if, like me, you have a very dry sense of humour.

This gif is from some American fly-by-night organisation called NASA. I don’t know if they know what they’re talking about when it comes to science and stuff, but their informative webpage on the subject seems to suggest that we are royally screwed.

They quote from expert

Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town

who:

has analyzed rainfall records dating back to 1923 to get a sense of the severity of the current drought compared to historical norms. His conclusion is that back-to-back years of such weak rainfall (like 2016-17) typically happens about once just every 1,000 years.

That’s some pretty spectacular extrapolation there. You’d think that you’d have to analyze at least 1,000 years before you could draw this sort of conclusion. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. He’s an expert, after all. Sadly though, much like Dr David Olivier, Piotr’s expertise will be ignored by those Facebook warriors determined to lay the blame for the water crisis at the doorstep of the City and Provincial governing structures.
They’ll point instead to a massively inaccurate newspaper article from 1990, and shared by a man who helped tell us that the chocolate and coffee farmers downstream of Theewaterskloof are stealing all “our” water.

Yeah. Not much thought went into that.

Elsewhere, The New York Times shares news from this shithole country with their shithole country:

 

The Daily Telegraph photographer should have turned off this tap:

And there’s a typically understated response from the Daily Express:

And you know things are getting SERIOUS when someone brings out THE CAPS LOCK key twice in a headline.

Homeopaths concerned about Day Zero

As the spectre of Day Zero continues to ever more occupy the Cape Town psyche, one particular group of complete and utter charlatans is feigning panic more loudly than many others.

Local homeopaths, whose sham of an industry relies almost entirely on selling people small, expensive bottles of water, are voicing their concerns that they may not be able to offer their completely ineffectual services once the taps run dry.

Ron Liar, spokesperson for local quack body, the Society of Homeopaths In Town (SHIT) this morning issued a statement in which he expressed anxiety over the immediate future of their members as Day Zero approaches:

As a group representing registered Homeopaths in Cape Town, we are dismayed at the thought of the city running out of water. Water is the lifeblood of mankind, but is especially important in our field of expertise. Indeed, without water, homeopathy is unable to function, since all our products are, in fact, just small, expensive bottles of water.
If we are forced to reduce our water usage, our preparations will increase in concentration to the point where molecules of the so-called active ingredient may even be found in them. Not only would this cause them to work less effectively (as per the pseudoscientific laws to which we ascribe), it might actually make them genuinely toxic. We use some really horrible stuff in there, you know? That’s one of the reasons we quietly dilute the living hell out of them before we had them over to the victim client.
It might actually kill them if we didn’t.
We need that water.

But the idiots who actually pay these fraudsters for their snake oil seemed unperturbed. We interrupted Obs resident Moonbell Dinglebat during her Nepalese Meditation session and she told us that had her own method of getting around the issue:

If there is a water shortage at my homeopathist, I’ll simply take more of whatever he prescribes for me: using two five millilitre vials instead of one ten millilitre vial will not only reduce the dosage I receive, thus increasing the effect of the preparation, it will also save water and help to protect Mother Earth.

At this point, we had to terminate the interview, because quite frankly, our heads were about to explode, and the thin mask of professionalism behind which at least some our work takes place was becoming dangerously close to slipping.

The challenges that Cape Town faces as we become the first major city to run out of water (yeah, I’ve seen the thing on Sao Paulo, don’t @ me) are numerous and terrifying.
Thus, if there are any positives that can be taken from the situation, we should do so with great glee, and the imminent death of the fraudulent homeopathic businesses across the Mother City is surely the one that I’m looking forward to the most.

The Blame Game

OK. Here goes. I rarely do “opinion” posts on the blog any more because there’s rarely anything I feel strongly enough about to be bothered to wade through mentions on Twitter, comments on here, insults flung at me on my journey to and from work and hate mail delivered to my home address three months later via the SAPO.

But I feel I need to say something.

I’ve been  watching the Cape Town water crisis with interest for a long while now. I’ve blogged about it an awful lot. And while “crisis” seemed a strong word 25 months ago when water restrictions were first introduced, we’re now staring down the barrel of a rather terrifying gun, with fewer than 100 days left until Day Zero – the day the taps will be turned off.

An entire city of 4 MILLION residents is going to run out of water in just 3 months time. And yet, a quick glance at the City’s Water Dashboard gives us this picture:

What, if I may be so bold, the actual fandango?

Just 39% of residents are using fewer than 87l water per person per day. That’s frankly appalling, and it shows a huge disregard and/or misunderstanding for the gravity of the situation.

You think that showering with a bucket is inconvenient? (It can be, I agree.)

But when Day Zero arrives:
There will be no water in your home. None.
Literally nothing will come out of your taps.

Want water? Go to one of the ±200 city-wide collection points and queue for it. 25 litres per person per day.
25 litres of water weighs 25kg, by the way. Transport that, mate. Every single day.

Businesses will be forced to close.
Closed business = no income = staff being laid off.
Schools won’t be able to open, creating a childcare nightmare for parents, and an educational nightmare for schools and students.

And Day Zero won’t last a day. The biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore, right there. Day Zero is when it starts.
Brace yourself for 3-6 months of no water supply.

Sadly, if scare tactics – or “the truth” as most people call it – worked, we’d already be doing a lot better than we are.

But I digress. This paragraph from David Olivier’s independent report on the current crisis has stuck with me:

Blame shifting, fault finding and panic are usual reactions to water crises all over the world. Some anxiety is good, as it motivates water saving, but blame shifting actually pushes responsibility away, and causes water wastage. The best attitude Cape Town’s people can adopt is for every person to do their best, together.

(emphasis by me)

This isn’t a political post. Absolutely not. I have no party axe to grind. But it does seem to me that there is a blame culture which has flourished in recent weeks. People saying that this water crisis has been poorly-managed by the City.

My personal feeling is that they’ve done ok considering the lack of any precedent here and the 20/20 hindsight that their detractors are blessed with. I think any city, any government, any party would have struggled with the challenge of a 1 in 1000 climatic event:

And I’m always intrigued to hear what the critics would have done differently.

But those are just my thoughts. Other opinions are available.
And, as I’m about to point out, none of that actually matters anyway.

I think David is absolutely right: this blame game has given people a convenient scapegoat which in turn has led to them choosing to ignore what, in this situation, are very clearly their social responsibilities.

So here’s my plan.

Blame and anger don’t contribute to our water supply. That’s not how the water supply works.

You can’t drink outrage.

If you want to stick it to Patricia de Lille, the City, the DA, the Provincial Government, the National Government or whomsoever, then next time your opportunity to vote comes around, you must do just that.
That’s how democracy works. Literally, the power of the people.

(Remember to choose wisely, just in case this happens again.)

But attempting to spite any or all of those individuals or bodies by refusing to cut down on your water usage is misguided and isn’t going to help anyone. Even yourself.

Spoiler alert:
Your political affiliations and opinions are not an excuse to not save water.

It’s time (it was time a long while back, actually) to put on your big boy panties, take a step back (and up) and choose to overlook the petty politics right now.
Deal with stuff that later.

Right now, collectively, we need to reach out to that missing two-thirds of residents who are still using too much water – the Day Zero denialists, the monied individuals in Bishopscourt, the Observatory anarchists, the tannies in Pinelands with their precious lawns, that oke in Durbanville that just doesn’t care – and rein them in. And if they want to moan all over the newspapers and social media and and and… about us doing it, well they must knock themselves out.
Just as long as they’re saving water while they’re doing it. Because if they don’t come to the party, we’re very definitely doomed.

I’m aware that this is pie in the sky thinking. I’m aware that if people actually cared about this situation, they’d be saving already. But just imagine if the residents worked with the City instead of pointlessly fighting the system (“pointlessly” because as I’ve pointed out – using water just because you hate the DA is a recipe for disaster), fiddling as Rome burns.

If you’re one of those individuals I’ve mentioned above, you’ve probably not read this far. But on the off-chance that you have, for the good of everyone: rich, poor, black, white, young and old please can you please start saving some water?

We need to pull together here. Or we’re all massively, massively buggered.

 

(Don’t @ me.)