Climate change is not something Capetonians have really had to come to terms with until the severity of the drought hit home. Years of lower than average rainfall left our dams depleted, and the threat of a possible Day Zero was a wakeup call, not just for residents, but for City officials, who were left scrambling to work out disaster scenarios in case the taps had to be switched off. The world sat up and took notice. Capetonians took up the call and reduced their water consumption by 50% in just a few months. The world is now looking at us as the shining example of how to avoid a crisis, but now that the rains are falling and the dams are slowly filling up, we must not become complacent.
The fact is climate change is real, and due to its unpredictability, we don’t know whether we will have good rain in winter 2019 and beyond. Wasting water is not something we can ever do again.
The saying “water is life” might sound clichéd, but cannot be underestimated. It’s connected to everything we do, and the impact we have on our water resources, makes an impact on our earth. From the clothes you wear, to the food you eat, to the plastic bottle you use at the gym, everything uses water to produce the product. It’s estimated that around 20% of industrial water pollution in the world comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles, while the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says it takes about 15 000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of meat.
Conversely, recycling can actually help save water. This is because the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing them into single use packaging uses quite a bit of water. Recycling reduces the need for materials from virgin sources and therefore reduces water use.
As the country attempts to move away from fossil fuels, we will also save water, because unlike coal plants, renewables like wind or solar, does not need water to produce energy.
In fact, the Western Cape is to lead South Africa’s Green Economy. 21 of our 30 municipalities have approved legislation permitting independent solar PV installation, giving businesses and residents the opportunity to use solar PV energy independently from the national grid. This is the highest number in South Africa.
The likes of GreenCape, a non-profit started in 2010, is working with business and government to unlock the economic potential of going green. GreenCape recently reported 293 green economy projects, up from 40 in 2010.
Many companies and individuals are working to right the wrongs done to the environment, and to reduce their carbon footprint.
Enter the SMILE ECO-REPORT.
With the knowledge that going green is inseparable to our future water security, the time has come to rigorously promote eco intelligence and increase green awareness, while celebrating and acknowledging those who are already building a greener future for our children.
Whether it is recycling, clean energy, sustainability, organic entrepreneurship, ethical agriculture or green business, the SMILE ECO-REPORT will shine a spotlight on all the positive environmental initiatives and green heroes in our City. We will also be encouraging our listeners to take better care of the planet we leave to our children.
Tune in from 2 July at 10.30, 12.30 and 15.30 for your daily dose of the SMILE ECO-REPORT!
Liesl Smit – Senior Reporter and Anchor, Smile90.4 FM News