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March 2018

Dear <<First Name>>

If you know you’re heading for a precipice it’s no good slowing down, someone said. You need to STOP and turn around.

The Cape Town drought has proved to be the best teacher to take the general public into a deeper awareness of our precarious position as humans on this planet. At least in relation to water. Whether they get the connection to the bigger picture of environmental destruction and climate change remains to be seen, but I do think there is a move in that direction. This is huge for me! The crisis is on everyone’s lips. Saving water has become almost an obsession around here, as it should across the country and the planet. Finally Jo Soap is beginning to learn about his place in nature. Maybe I can retire now?

Yet once the City called off the Day Zero threat as expected the water consumption shot up again. Maybe it’s only when you dangle over the edge that you realise you have a problem? When you get pulled up again you tend to go back to the illusion of safety. How we are addicted to comfort. And no, one day of good rains as we’ve now had, does not mean that the crisis is over. Hope you’ve all managed to catch 20mm of magnificent water?

How do we keep escalating the wake-up and change our self-destructive culture? Somehow there is still a dissonance which prevents the most ‘civilised’ nations from honouring the delicate ecosystems that support our lives. I suspect the convenience factor is one of the biggest culprits. That and the group pressure which demands you follow materialist trends to be approved as successful. Of course it takes work to carry your urine to your trees, or flush the loo with your shower water, or wash in a basin. It might be more physically demanding or time consuming. And complaints abound about heavy bucket carrying and aching backs. Yet moving our bodies more is probably the best remedy for all the dominant ailments of our time.

Human convenience is destroying the ability of our species and most others to survive on this planet. What could be more serious? If you look at this the right way then you can see that the demanded changes are all good – a win-win situation. Let’s not slide back to push button toilets and luxurious baths. Let’s not fall asleep again.

What’s happening in the Cape is not a temporary glitch in the grand design – something to brave and endure whilst you dream of a golden future. No, it IS the future. Let’s drop our privilege and keep on top of the new game – and give our children a fighting chance.

Going forward depends entirely on the ability to adapt. So it’s the survival of the most flexible. Let’s remove the old stick from the mud and find new and earth-aware ways. Almost everything we know needs to change.

Let’s think this month about how and what and how much we consume. Essentially the more you need to earn to support your lifestyle, the higher your footprint on the earth. So the cultural command to constantly earn and consume more is a key problem here. Given the planet’s crisis it’s more intelligent to focus on reducing your lifestyle demands and living more simply.

Our food, our technology, our stuff. How much do we really need? Think scaling down and passing on what you don’t use or love. It’s a liberation all round. Others benefit and I drop my in-house footprint. In time every product will carry a number – not the price to you, but the cost to the earth. We need to know this number. Where and how was it made and transported? The more questions we ask, the better.

We could start by counting the pieces of packaging we bring home every day. This is the first thing to STOP - see why here. Then set out to reduce that. How? We can figure that out together. I will blog about it. Learn-as-you-go is the creative and environmental way to live. This is the brave new world we are creating.

Enjoy this month’s stories and have a blessed and green Easter time.

Thank you for reading and spreading our news for a better planet.

Please support our work here.

Kind regards
Elma and Ruben

Boston judge acquits 13 pipeline protesters in groundbreaking decision

A Boston judge on Tuesday sided with 13 climate activists who were arrested for protesting the West Roxbury Mass Lateral Pipeline.

Will an electric car push up your insurance premiums?

When it comes to electric cars, South Africa should start to adapt to this revolutionary automotive technology, despite being predominantly dependent on fossil fuel and lacking sufficient electric infrastructure.

Energy and water sectors excited by solar PV but corruption remains a challenge

Solar PV is overwhelmingly seen as the most promising generation source for Africa while corruption, skills gaps and access to finance are some of the biggest challenges that power and water professionals face in their industries.

The battle to save Groot Marico River

A diamond company has secured environmental authorisation to prospect for kimberlite, a potential diamond bearing rock, in the sensitive catchment of Groot Marico, Swartruggens and Koster.

Features to look for in an eco-friendly home

With the Western Cape’s current severe drought situation, there’s no time like the present to adopt the ‘green’ lifestyle. If you want to invest in a home that already has an eco-friendly touch to it, here’s what to look out for.

Mystery ocean infection causes itchy bumps

The mystery infection which saw the temporary closure of Three Pools is seemingly spreading, with bathers at the Willows resort and Pollok Beach (in Port Elizabeth) showing similar symptoms.

Companies celebrate World Water Day collaboration

Dignitaries, celebrities and CEO’s celebrated World Water Day last week at the V&A Waterfront in collaboration with SOS Save Our Schools.

Fighting a rising tide of plastic pollution in the Galápagos Islands

Volunteers clean remote beaches of these iconic islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador and remove tonnes of plastic waste, much of it carried to the islands from other corners of the planet.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch now three times the size of France

A huge, swirling pile of trash in the Pacific Ocean is growing faster than expected and is now three times the size of France.

Why 150 whales have beached in Australia

By Friday morning, more than 150 short-finned pilot whales had been found lying on a beach in western Australia.

Rain wreaks havoc in Johannesburg

Three lanes on the M1 North were closed, after a tree fell on the highway, and two homes were flooded in Klipspruit as overnight flooding wreaked havoc in Johannesburg on Friday.

Entrepreneurs turning waste into opportunity

Africa is home to an emerging community of social entrepreneurs who care about people and the environment, and their inventive spirits are being harnessed to create jobs and opportunities for vulnerable people.

Mega coal plants versus people of South Africa: The battle for clean water

South Africa's water crisis has been declared a national disaster, which means that the national government recognises that its impacts go well beyond just the three provinces that have been named.

‘Coke, stop guzzling our water!’

How is Coca Cola in Cape Town able to use over a million litres of water every day while poor households are having their water cut off, asks the Water Crisis Coalition.

Trump’s confusing positions on elephant trophy hunting

Here’s a seemingly simple question: Is it legal to bring elephant body parts collected in hunting exhibitions in Africa back to the United States?

How to stop pesticide spraying in your area

The spraying of agricultural chemicals is widespread, not just on farmlands, vineyards and fruit orchards, but also in towns, public parks and gardens, playgrounds, schools, sportsfields and on verges.

UK government’s hypocrisy over ‘nerve agent’ spy poisoning

Anyone seeing the sight of specialists investigating the nerve agent attack in Salisbury cocooned from head to toe in chemical protective equipment and gas mask style respirators, will have raised an eyebrow or two.

‘Catastrophe’ as France’s bird population collapses due to pesticides

Bird populations across the French countryside have fallen by a third over the last decade and a half, researchers have said.

Relieving pressure on Western Cape recycling

Demand for plastic bottles is at an all-time high in the Western Cape region. Because of this the local recycling capacity in the Western Cape is at maximum production and is unable to process the additional influx of bottles.

Clever kids use rainwater to clean windscreen

It’s an idea that could one day help save billions of litres of water. Instead of simply wiping raindrops off our car windscreens, why not collect and reuse the water via the washer jets?

Pupils put heads together to discuss saving environment

Tuesday July 31 is calculated to be the day on which humanity’s resource consumption exceeds earth’s capacity to regenerate.

Triple stacked GM maize destined for SA food

South Africa’s staple food, maize, could soon be loaded with new combinations of foreign genes, and sprayed with new cocktails of agrochemicals.

Water shortages could affect 5bn people by 2050, UN report warns

More than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies, according to a UN report on the state of the world’s water.

Will there be more rain for Cape Town this winter?

The approaching autumn and winter season in Cape Town is being keenly awaited to see if it will bring sufficient rain to end, or at least alleviate, the drought.

World water problems on tap at Brazil conference

Brazil — the country with the world’s greatest fresh water reserves — hosts an international conference next week on growing fears over the fragility of drinking water supplies in a heating planet.

Waste management a priority at Cape cycling races

A dedicated clean-up team of more than 100 workers employed from informal settlements around Cape Town, once again worked tirelessly to ensure the race routes used for the recent 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour and Mountain Bike Challenge were kept clean and litter-free.

Our responsibility to keep plastic from becoming trash

Plastic. Love it. Freaking hate it. Plastic is fantastic. Plastic pollutes. Ban it. Rethink it. Redesign it. Use it. Refuse it.

Durban’s beaches are disappearing

Durban is becoming a seaside city without any sand as strong waves pummel its beaches and the city’s sand pumping efforts come to naught.

Plastic particles found in bottled water

Tests on major brands of bottled water have found that nearly all of them contained tiny particles of plastic.

Joburg school fills swimming pool with plastic to teach students a lesson

Plastic bottles are affecting our oceans and the environment, leaving a path of destruction where all living beings are affected.

Aquifer drilling threatens biodiversity and water security

The rush to extract underground water to overcome the drought may be putting Cape Town’s future water supply in danger.

Putting a positive spin on climate mitigation

To solve the problem of climate change, the global community needs to rethink the “negative” sports and war metaphors that are pervasive in discussions about the issue.

Union blocks signing of government deals with IPPs

Government and Eskom will not be able to sign contracts with 27 independent power producers (IPPs) on Tuesday as planned, after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Transform RSA were granted an urgent court interdict.

Breede Valley has run out of drinking water

Gift of the Givers has dispersed 120 tons of water to parts of the drought-stricken Western Cape‚ where some rivers and dams were virtually dry.

Saving the world’s fast-declining wildlife with drone technology

The world’s wildlife population is decreasing at an alarming rate. 

SA’s water issues will remain until underlying environmental threats are addressed

Ecologists are concerned that any short-term water augmentation plans put into place now will threaten the critical environmental support structure that ensures a sustainable water supply.

Sweden imports garbage to turn into energy

Sweden is so good at recycling that, for several years, it has imported rubbish from other countries to keep its recycling plants going.

Holistic model needed for SA renewable energy program

Department of Energy director-general Thabane Zulu, told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy that the energy programme needs to have a holistic model that is sustainable.

‘Day Zero’ will not occur in 2018, announces Mmusi Maimane

Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane said in Cape Town on Wednesday morning that the city’s residents are “Day Zero heroes”.

Four countries suspend SA meat imports after listeriosis outbreak

Four countries in southern Africa on Monday took steps against South African chilled meat imports made at a factory found to be the origin of the world’s worst-ever listeria outbreak.

Tons of recalled meat is headed for public landfill sites

The recall of millions of tons of possible listeria infected cold meat is set to create another crisis – when it is dumped at hundreds of public landfill sites scattered across the country.

Archbishop speaks out on climate action urgency in Fiji

The Archbishop of Canterbury was formally welcomed to Fiji today – and he took the opportunity, before the President and leading members of Fijian society, to make a ringing public declaration about the need for climate action.

Thousands in England without water after mass pipe burst

Thousands of properties in South-east England remain without water as car maker Jaguar has been forced to halt production after multiple burst pipes across the country.

What would electric cars mean for our economy?

A macroeconomic study into the impact of a possible transition in the South African transport market from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) has been launched.

Are seismic surveys driving penguins from their feeding grounds?

Whales, dolphins, squid and fish are among the many marine species that rely on underwater sounds for everything from foraging to communication.

SA one of the worst marine plastic polluters in the world

It’s hard to picture a more pristine coastline than the towering, green cliffs being battered by the rough breakers of South Africa’s Wild Coast.
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