Unusually dry winter on the Cape Point Peninsula

We were very happy in our house today. It rained! Yes, we were happy that it rained. The garden was as dry as toast and you don’t need to be a climatologist to know that the nice winter weather we have been enjoying will lead to water shortages in the Cape Point Peninsula come the end of summer. In recent years we have been made increasingly aware of climatic problems such as global warming. There are many theories banding about regarding scenarios; ranging from a few degrees rise in global temperatures to run away climates which could either see us enter a new ice age or be fried like sausages.

Lewis Gay Dam, Cape Point Peninsula,  Water Levels 19-8-2010Dam levels are low on the Cape Point Peninsula

It all rather depends on who you listen to as to what is going to happen. There are even groups who claim the whole thing is nonsense, propaganda banded about by loony lefties to turn us all against nasty corporations.

The potential of global warming is a planet wide concern and we cannot assume that we on the Cape Point will be saved from this natural phenomena- if it is true!

I say ‘if’, because although I am all for cutting back on toxic emissions and generally making the planet a better place to live, I also don’t like being taken for a fool- which is the impression I sometimes get when confronted by ‘scientific theory’ (which surely is an oxymoron.) Any weather anomalies theses days will instantly be associated with global warming, and I have seen many reports stating that we should come to expect the draught conditions in the Western Cape and Cape Point.

Distressing news for all of us!

So what can we do in the Cape Point to minimize our exposure to this looming natural disaster?

First let’s not panic just yet!

Yes, statistical data shows that the planet is warming up, yes this can have unforeseen effects on the weather patterns of the Cape Point region, turning wet areas dry, warm areas cold and visa versa. Will stopping driving your car to the shops prevent this from happening? Maybe, maybe not. (Should you walk to the shops anyway- of course, its great exercise and we are running out of oil which is far more likely to lead to the end of civilization than a few degrees rise in the temperature.)

Yes we are experiencing below average rainfall this winter in the Cape Point region which will lead to water shortages in the summer. This isn’t unusual, it actually happens about every seven years. You see, what the global warming champions don’t point out is that the weather follows natural cycles and in the Cape Point area the rain fall is on a roughly seven year loop. In 2004 a wet summer in the north east of South Africa was followed by a very dry winter in the Western and Northern Cape (is it mere coincidence that this was the last time snow fell on Table Mountain?)

Does this help us with our looming water shortages? Maybe it can if we take notice of this, stop jumping up and down blaming global warming for everything and come up with a sustainable seven year plan for our water usage.

The thing that is overlooked when anyone warns of climate change is that we are currently in a very brief period of the earth’s history with a very calm and stable climate. Mechanisms that control our weather patterns have only been in place since the end of the last ice age, a mere few thousand years ago. The closing of the Isthmus of Panama created the Gulf Stream and the El Nino and La Nina effects in the Pacific Ocean.

As sure as you like climate change will happen on planet Earth, whether it is this week or in a million years, and if we want to survive as a species we have to learn to adapt to this change or become so advanced that we can control it. We may be able to slow the current trends but we certainly cannot make the planet into a stable environment forever.

Lets eek out our Cape Point Peninsula water reserves

Common House BrickWhat we certainly need to do in the Cape Point is to use our water more wisely, cut back on wastage (both by the end user and the distributors) and maybe work out how to capture more when it does fall from the sky. It doesn’t take a lot to save water, shower quickly (share, but make sure it is with your partner, not someone else’s, I don’t want to be called as a witness in a divorce case, being accused of inciting affairs) wash your car using a bucket and sponge, not a hose pipe, capture rain water to use on the garden, use water efficient flushing systems on your toilets (put a brick or two in the cistern- it reduces the volume in the flush), and if you are rich enough consider full on grey water systems for your property.

World populations are increasing, as is that of the Cape Point area. So our resources are getting more and more stretched. Even if global warming turns out to be a natural process (no one can firmly predict what will happen in a given region if the climate changes, we could get more wet weather rather than draughts- a low pressure over the Northern Cape keeps South Atlantic weather to the south of us during the summer, if this disappeared then we would have a maritime climate all year round, rather than enjoying Mediterranean summers) we still need to make a big plan to look after our natural resources as an increasing number of people are coming to rely on them. However, I don’t personally think that one dry winter points towards the Cape Point becoming a barren dessert, it will get wetter again.

So enjoy the Cape Point winter sunshine (not today, its rubbish out there) while you can and remember that we need to do anything we can to make sure that we have water at the end of the summer.

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