As indicated in a previous article in this edition, our life sustaining elements come from the sun (energy), water and earth. As a result of various factors including over use, wastage, abuse, climate change and mismanagement these elements are becoming more and more difficult to access. The greenhouse gasses that we emit into the atmosphere are affecting the sun’s radiation and this in turn creates global warming. This causes a chain reaction in respect of changing weather patterns. The overall consequences are that we are now experiencing fluctuating rainfall. We have taken our planet and its resources for granted as we always had an abundant supply of water, unpolluted air, and sufficient affordable healthy food. This has lulled us into a false sense of security and complacency. We became consumer addicts! This addiction has led to over production of food causing huge wastage. We have had to clear forests at an alarming rate to open new ground for growing crops and developing new farms. It is estimated that over 14% of all climate changing greenhouse gas emissions emanate from animal agriculture. Cows produce globally over 600 billion litres of methane every day. Animal based food production consumes massively more water than is needed for plant based food. Factory farming is also a major water polluter. Nutrients from animal waste feeds blooms of algae in fresh and ocean waters. This algae use up oxygen in the water making it uninhabitable for all life. South Africa has over the last 30 years experienced a gradual change in weather patterns. Climate changes have gone unnoticed and ignored. This year the cumulative effect of these climate changes have manifest itself in severe drought conditions in 2016 never experienced in South Africa before. This year we are experiencing heavy rains in the northern parts of the country resulting in water running into the sea and not harvested. The southern part of the country is in the grips of the severest drought ever. The amount of water available by the time of going to press is 110 days for the city of Cape Town. Unless we engage in a serious mindset shift in managing our vital resources we will suffer dire consequences.
Managing Our Resources.
One solution is that more resources should be diverted to energy and utilities management. It has become vitally important that our resources are managed more efficiently and cost effectively. This applies to all South African institutions and companies including government. In fact every household should also be participating in the management of our life sustaining resources. Energy is everybody’s problem and responsibility. Much more energy management systems need to be created so that the monitoring and control of energy use is efficient and cost effective and more importantly eco friendly. Although we have many advanced technical management systems in place we can all start making life style changes that will assist in managing our energy usage. Thus far very little cognizance has been taken by government, especially at local level, of this very important function of efficient management of our energy and water resources. The time is now for government to spend more attention to the management of the energy and water resources that is under threat. This sector has become so vital that a forum to find management solutions has been created to debate, discuss and find new technology of sustaining and managing our energy and water resources. African Utility Week is now in its 17th year. The African Utility Week will be held in Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on the 16 to 18 May this year. To illustrate how important this event is it is envisaged that approximately 1200 delegates will attend and about 280 exhibitors will exhibit their contribution to the management of our vital life sustaining resources. This is the forum where engineers, stakeholders, utility management providers, governments, consultants and regulators converge and network on topics such as wastewater management, grey water recycling, storm water and rainwater harvesting, sea water desalination and much more.
It is clear that much more needs to done urgently to manage our resources. To ignore the signs and substantiated evidence that we are indeed mismanaging our life sustaining resources will have dire consequences for life on our planet.