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Day Zero: A Desperate Warning from Cape Town to the World

Manak Suri

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The unpreparedness of the human race has slowly but steadily come to the surface over the previous decade when it comes to ensuring our own survival and more importantly, that of the following generations. Before we even attempt to realize the impacts of climate change that are thrown into the faces of some community who then serve as the unfortunate examples of what’s going to happen, another repercussion pops up into the frame at the cost of another unsuspecting community, a country, or even a city. The city of Cape Town in South Africa serves as the most recent of those examples, and the crisis in the city bodes an ultimatum like never before to other thriving cities on the planet: mend your ways or follow suit.

“Day Zero”: as dire as it sounds

The event currently underway in Cape Town could be aptly described as probably its worst drought in nearly a century, one that has seen its people and authorities struggle to obtain water in the wake of depleting natural sources in order to sustain even their daily hygiene rituals. The city is quickly closing in on what has been dubbed as “Day Zero“: the day when the city will run out of its water. When that happens, it would be the first occurrence of such an event for a major global city. “Day Zero”, originally estimated to occur on April 22, was more recently moved up to April 12 with Cape Town’s 4 million strong population finding it difficult to adjust to the demands of reduced consumption.

A point of no return, is it?

The authorities, including city mayor Patricia de Lille have urged citizens to restrict their usage to 50 litres per person a day with effect from February 1 to accommodate the shortage and help prevent the situation take a turn for the worse. However, most citizens have been ignorant of these warnings in the past month and have irresponsibly consumed more than 87 litres per day, the restricted amount in place till the end of January. “It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero” she said, adding, “We have reached a point of no return.”

Despite the comments of the mayor, it can be safely mentioned that many people of the city are realizing the weight of the crisis, and have begun to get creative with the different ways in which they can collect and reuse water in order to restrict their consumption to the stipulated limit and escape hefty fines. Long queues to purchase bottled water for household consumption in supermarkets has also become a common sight over the weeks.

Former mayor Helen Zille, who will also direct the disaster management response on the arrival of Day Zero has sounded hopeful, going so far as to say that Day Zero can be avoided should everyone realize the implications and make a concerted effort towards conserving water. “That is not difficult if we all put our minds to it in our homes and in our workplaces,” she said of the situation. Ms. Zille, along with other officials have provided tips to the people for saving water and getting the maximum use out of the water that they use: turning off the taps of toilet cisterns and using the grey water from washing in the toilets instead and showering less often. “No one should be showering more than twice a week at this stage. You need to save water as if your life depends on it because it does” were her words.

Not a crisis out of thin air

The crisis that the people in Cape Town are facing is not sudden by any standards. In fact, first warnings against the occurring were given out in the 1990s which were largely ignored. One main factor identified behind the crisis and its scale is the city’s population of about 4 million individuals, which has seen a high rate of growth over the years and is still growing strongly. Coupled with the drought that the population is currently facing, the strain on the resources for water has increased. South Africa hasn’t received sufficient rainfall for three years now. The drought in turn arises from climate change and the El Nino effect. There are six dams that supply water to the city and are currently 25.8 per cent full. The figure stood at 85% in 2014 and 38.4% a year ago.

What the dawn of Day Zero would mean for the people of Cape Town

On the dawn of Day Zero, Capetonians would be allowed just 25 litres of water per person a day, or roughly 7 gallons. To put that into perspective, you can take the average amount of water that Americans use: 80 to 100 gallons. A single flush of a toilet amounts to 2 gallons, and a 90 second shower could use up 4 gallons. To keep the restrictions in check,  most taps in the city would be switched off and residents will have to get their daily share of water from any one of 200 allocated points in the city. Plans are also being made to store emergency water in military installations. The sooner the city head towards Day Zero, the sooner Capetonians will need to prepare for a new lifestyle, one that is significantly astray from that of entitlement that we all are living in right now. The crisis in Cape Town is a crystal clear warning to us, and one that will likely be not be given the consideration it is due.

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A student of economics with a keen eye for developments in the geopolitical sphere, Manak is a curious individual with a penchant for writing about anything that makes him ponder long enough.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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Will The World Ever Make The Renewable Energy Shift?

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Wind mill renewable energy

Contrary to global warming deniers, the world is getting warmer and humans are playing a big part. But, just as we exacerbated the problem, we can come up with the solution. In fact, there are numerous fixes such as solar, wind and geothermal energy to name but three. Yet, China still churns out fossil fuels at a frightening rate and Delhi is shrouded in poisonous smog. Even though the people in charge and the public understand the shift, there doesn’t seem to be any hurry. So, will the world ever get to the necessary levels to combat climate change? The answer is yes, and here are the reasons why.

Hardliners Turning Soft

In the past, the governments of China, India and Russia were against slowing down energy production. Although the USA and the rest of Europe were not angels, they were at least trying to come to a compromise. Now, as the situation escalates, the hardliners are beginning to see the need to change their turn. The Paris Agreement, even without the US, is a huge potential turning point as the most powerful nations look to set an example. Sure, America might not agree, but the fact that the majority of the powerful players are on board is a positive sign.

The Sleeper Stats

It’s easy to make a sweeping statement such as fossil fuels are and always will be the leading resource of energy. And, that is true to a degree as coal still leads the way. However, signs from 2015 onwards have been encouraging. In fact, that’s an understatement because they have been music to the ears. According to the IEA, more than 50% of the world’s energy in 2015 was developed by renewables. The better news is that the stats for the end of 2017 suggest the gap to coal is closing rapidly.

Personal Accessibility

Often, global warming centres on governments and countries and what they can do to change. But, the truth is that everyone on the planet has a role to play to lower their carbon footprint. Whereas that was almost impossible to do in the past, it’s far easier today. Not only has renewable equipment reduced in cost, but companies like Wunder Capital now exist to provide funding. Then, there are the common tools, such as energy-efficient light bulbs, which chip away at CO2 one Watt at a time. Finally, there is the education factor and the fact that homeowners want to make a difference. And yes – it’s already happening.

Techno Faith

When renewable energy sources first appeared, they were less than well equipped to deal with the level of output. As a result, people lambasted them as useless and not the way forward. However, patience has proven this to be false as they have increased dramatically over time. Now, solar panels and wind turbines are as efficient as they are helpful to the planet. Because the technology will only get better, it’s logical to assume the results will go the same way.

There’s no doubt it’s a long and tough battle for the planet, but the signs look positive. And, they are due to get better.

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Who Will Save The Planet: The People Or Big Business?

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Are you worried about climate change and the general state of the planet? If you read our previous article on the subject, you certainly will be and if not, then perhaps it’s time you caught up. The shorthand version is that the world is slowly dying. American talk show host and political comedian, Bill Maher, recently questioned why innovators like Elon Musk are so fascinated by the idea of living on Mars. Instead, he asserted, we should be focusing on saving this planet and correcting the damage done to it. Scientists are constantly trying to warn us that we need to do more to save the planet, but who are they talking about here?

The question we want to answer today: who has the best hope of saving the world and fixing the environment? Is it big business or the individual homeowners? In other words, should we look to the ant or the grasshopper? As the old fable goes, ants may be small but in large numbers they might be capable of far more than the larger, strong Grasshopper. To answer this question we first need to look at the statistics.

The Maths Behind The Melt Down

Here’s an interesting statistic for you to mull over.One child per family, according to experts is the equivalent of 58.6 tonnes of CO2 carbon emissions annually. That’s right, just by having kids and growing your family you are causing the destruction of the world. Try not to take that too personally because actually everyone is guilty.

However, before you get too distressed about this, let’s shine a light on another stat. 100 companies in the world are causing 71 percent of the global emissions that are currently destroying the environment. Essentially, this sends the message that we shouldn’t be trying to change the minds and lifestyles of the individuals but rather the businesses that are slowly killing the planet.

Of course, it is worth considering that while that might seem like there’s just a few bad eggs we are in the age of the massive conglomerates where monopolies are common. Just this month we learned Disney was attempting to buy up Rupert Murdoch’s pride and joy while Warner Bros. continued their efforts to merge with AT&T. What does this tell us? Is it really that surprising that – in comparative terms – a few companies are causing most of the pollution. Absolutely not, but that doesn’t leave the random individual completely blameless. Indeed, it’s fair to say that most people these days own a car or two. A typical vehicle will create over 4 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Imagine how much damage you’re doing by driving alone.

The Businesses Must Act

One train of thought here then is that it is the businesses that must make changes for us to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Believe it or not, that is starting to happen, at least in some areas of the world. In Denmark for instance, the government has set high stands for companies and the level of carbon emissions they can product. Infact, there is a heavy focus here on renewable energy which actually, all businesses should be looking towards now as a solution.

As well as this, businesses are in the perfect position to introduce innovative technology and processes that could make everything more efficient. Ultimately, this could start at the manufacturing level and we can take jet engines as an example here. So, during the manufacturing of turbine engines, producers now have the possibility of using Laser Light technologies to drill tiny holes into the engine, thus allowing it to cool more effectively. With this feature, the engine uses less energy and is a lot more efficient. For that to happen though, the producer has to use that method. The company creating the planes has to buy from that producer. But, if all this does occur then ultimately it impacts various different processes in the world. Flying from New York to London is suddenly a lot more eco friendly. So, perhaps the phrase should be ‘it starts at business’ rather than it starts at home.

After all, it is the businesses that are going to have to change to ensure that the impact of climate change and other environmental factors are reversed. One could even argue that if every business began to take a hard stance on correcting the impact that their model is having on the environment the issue would be resolved overnight. But, let’s take a closer look at the individual.

Power Of The Public

There are a few reasons why ultimately it is the public that has the power to change the impact we are currently having on the environment. First, of all, there’s that ant, grasshopper fable. There are a lot more people in the world than there are businesses. If everyone changed their energy usage the issues with carbon emissions wouldn’t disappear but they would be significantly reduced.

The public also have the power of the buyer. They can decide and determine who they want to buy from. If the public started turning their backs on businesses that continued to pollute they would have no choice but to act and to change their ways.

As well as this, we have now reached the point where small gestures won’t be enough. As the world population continues to grow, it’s clear that the biggest threat to environment is not carbon emissions but people. Governments need to act swiftly and start taking appropriate measures that may seem severe like limits on the number of children that people can have. While this might seem drastic we  need drastic actions now, if the report by 15000 scientists is to be believed.

Perhaps then this is a trick question. The power to save us isn’t in the hands of the people or the corporations. The power to save us is in the hands of the governments around the world. But of course, governments work, at least they should, in the best interests of the people. As such, if you want to save the planet we really only have one question. How loud can you shout to make sure your voice is heard on this issue?

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