[Marxism] Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’
gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 18:05:48 MST 2018
This is so serious. I could not bear to listen to Piers Morgan's interview
with Trump but I did look at his comments on climate change. It is tragic
bad luck for humanity that at this juncture the most powerful nation in the
world is led by a fool who is a climate change denier.
The American Ruling class have committed a crime against us all. They may
have gotten their tax cuts but they will choke just like us.
I think of these lines from Brecht's *Questions from a worker who reads*
Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.
On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 10:27 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
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> (I never understood the big deal made over peak oil or the strenuous
> attempts to debunk it. For me, the real threat has always been "peak
> NY Times, Jan. 30, 2018
> Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’
> By NORIMITSU ONISHI and SOMINI SENGUPTA
> CAPE TOWN — It sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster. “Day Zero” is coming
> to Cape Town this April. Everyone, be warned.
> The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a
> major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are
> underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be
> entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in
> whispers of impending chaos.
> The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously
> close to running dry.
> If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than
> three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the
> rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for
> water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact
> on public health and social order.
> “When Day Zero comes, they’ll have to call in the army,” said Phaldie
> Ranqueste, who was filling his white S.U.V. with big containers of water at
> a natural spring where people waited in a long, anxious line.
> It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way for Cape Town. This city is known
> for its strong environmental policies, including its careful management of
> water in an increasingly dry corner of the world.
> But after a three-year drought, considered the worst in over a century,
> South African officials say Cape Town is now at serious risk of becoming
> one of the few major cities in the world to lose piped water to homes and
> most businesses.
> Hospitals, schools and other vital institutions will still get water,
> officials say, but the scale of the shut-off will be severe.
> Cape Town’s problems embody one of the big dangers of climate change: the
> growing risk of powerful, recurrent droughts. In Africa, a continent
> particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, those problems
> serve as a particularly potent warning to other governments, which
> typically don’t have this city’s resources and have done little to adapt.
> For now, political leaders here talk of coming together to “defeat Day
> Zero.” As water levels in the dams supplying the city continue to drop, the
> city is scrambling to finish desalination plants and increase groundwater
> production. Starting in February, residents will face harsher fines if they
> exceed their new daily limit, which will go down to 50 liters (13.2
> gallons) a day per person from 87 liters now.
> Just a couple of years ago, the situation could not have looked more
> different here. In 2014, the dams stood full after years of good rain. The
> following year, C40, a collection of cities focused on climate change
> worldwide, awarded Cape Town its “adaptation implementation” prize for its
> management of water.
> Cape Town was described as one of the world’s top “green” cities, and the
> Democratic Alliance — the opposition party that has controlled Cape Town
> since 2006 — took pride in its emphasis on sustainability and the
> The accolades recognized the city’s success in conserving water. Though
> the city’s population had swelled by 30 percent since the early 2000s,
> overall water consumption had remained flat. Many of the new arrivals
> settled in the city’s poor areas, which consume less water, and actually
> helped bring down per capita use.
> The city’s water conservation measures — fixing leaks and old pipes;
> installing meters and adjusting tariffs — had a powerful impact. Maybe too
> The city conserved so much water that it postponed looking for new sources.
> For years, Cape Town had been warned that it needed to increase and
> diversify its water supply. Almost all of its water still comes from six
> dams dependent on rainfall, a risky situation in an arid region with a
> changing climate. The dams, which were full only a few years ago, are now
> down to about 26 percent of capacity, officials say.
> Cape Town has grown warmer in recent years and a bit drier over the last
> century, according to Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the University of Cape
> Town who has measured average rainfall from the turn of the 20th century to
> the present.
> Climate models show that Cape Town is destined to face a drier future,
> with rains becoming more unpredictable in the coming decades. “The drier
> years are expected to be drier than they were, and the wetter years will
> not be as wet,” Mr. Wolski said.
> As far back as 2007, South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs warned
> that the city needed to consider increasing its supply with groundwater,
> desalination and other sources, citing the potential impact of climate
> Mike Muller, who served as the department’s director between 1997 and
> 2005, said that the city’s water conservation strategy, without finding new
> sources, has been “a major contributor to Cape Town’s troubles.”
> “Nature isn’t particularly willing to compromise,” he added. “There will
> be severe droughts. And if you haven’t prepared for it, you’ll get
> Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor, said that new water supplies have been part
> of the city’s plans but “it was not envisaged that it would be required so
> Cities elsewhere have faced serious water shortages. Millions of
> Brazilians have endured rationing because of prolonged droughts. Brasília,
> the capital, declared a state of emergency a year ago. Experts say the
> water shortages in Brazil, which have affected more than 800 municipalities
> across the country, stem from climate change, the rapid expansion of
> agriculture, bad infrastructure and poor planning.
> Here in Cape Town, the water shortages have strained political divisions,
> especially because much of the responsibility for building water
> infrastructure lies with the national government led by the African
> National Congress.
> “The national government has dragged its feet,” said David Olivier, who
> studies climate change at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Global
> Change Institute.
> The national government controls the water supply to Cape Town, other
> municipalities and the province’s agricultural sector, including the large
> wine industry east of Cape Town. In the first two years of the drought,
> experts say, the national government failed to limit water supplies to
> farmers, intensifying the problem.
> But the city made mistakes, too. Last year, instead of focusing on
> “low-hanging fruit” like tapping into local aquifers, the city concentrated
> on building temporary desalination units, said Kevin Winter, a water expert
> at the University of Cape Town’s Future Water Institute.
> “It takes a lot of time to build desalination modules, three to five
> years, and at considerable cost,” Mr. Winter said. “They’re even costlier
> to build during a crisis.”
> Mr. Neilson, the deputy mayor, acknowledged that “some time was lost.” The
> city, he said, had now “shifted our efforts dramatically.”
> The city is stepping up its efforts to cut consumption. With water and
> time running out, Mr. Neilson said he was “acutely aware” of needing to
> scare people into changing their behavior without causing them to panic,
> adding, “I don’t think we quite got that right yet.”
> So far, only 55 percent of Cape Town residents have met the target of 87
> liters per day.
> Helen Zille, the premier of Western Cape Province, which includes Cape
> Town, wrote in The Daily Maverick last week that she considers a shut-off
> inevitable. The question now, she said, is, “When Day Zero arrives, how do
> we make water accessible and prevent anarchy?”
> Cutting back is a difficult message to convey in one of the world’s most
> unequal societies, where access to water reflects Cape Town’s deep
> divisions. In squatter camps, people share communal taps and carry water in
> buckets to their shacks. In other parts of the city, millionaires live in
> mansions with glistening pools.
> In vast townships like Mitchells Plain, residents without cars wondered
> how they could even carry water containers home from a collection point.
> Faried Cassiem, who works as a cleaner but does not have a car, said his
> wife would have to fetch water for his household of eight.
> “There are so many guys just standing around, with no jobs, so I’ll just
> give them two rands to carry the water,” he said, referring to the
> equivalent of about 17 cents.
> As Day Zero looms, some were stocking up on water at two natural springs
> in the city. Others were buying cases of water at Makro, a warehouse-style
> In Constantia, a suburb with large houses on gated properties with pools,
> some residents were installing water tanks in their yards.
> At one house, Leigh De Decker and Mark Bleloch said they had reduced their
> total water consumption from the city to 20 liters a day, down from 500
> liters a day before the drought. Instead, they now draw from two
> 10,000-liter tanks of treated well water, and were waiting for two
> additional tanks to be delivered.
> Several weeks before Day Zero, their use of city water should come down to
> zero, they said, estimating that it will cost them about $4,200 to become
> completely self-sufficient.
> “It allows you to have a certain lifestyle without drawing on resources
> that other people need,” Ms. De Decker said.
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