For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
Showers late. Morning clouds. Mild.
One of the best metaphors I have come across in studying
the environment is that Earth is like a gigantic spacecraft weaving its way
through the vastness of the universe.
The reason it appeals to me is that it
gets across the fact that just as in a normal spacecraft resources like air,
food and water are limited for the astronauts inside, the same is true for the
seven billion inhabitants of the Earth.
The immense desolation of the cosmos means that there is
nowhere to run if anything essential for life ceases to be available. Thus, the
passengers on the spacecraft have to make do with what they have got. Even on a
planet as large as ours, and even with the outstanding intelligence of
humankind, there are restrictions on our behavior which should not be breached.
Given the current water crisis in Cape Town, I think we
should apply the analogy here. We have to realize that the four million
passengers on the city's spacecraft have to live within the means of the water
that is available to them inside or in the vicinity of the spacecraft. It is
now estimated that we have less than 100 days of water left if you assume that
the last 10 per cent of the dams supplying Cape Town cannot be used.
It is commendable that the city's mayor, who is the
equivalent to the commander of the spacecraft, has declared an emergency and
set targets for reduced consumption. On the other hand, the response so far has
not measured up to the significance of the emergency.
The feeling is
still out there among the general community that the winter rain will arrive in
time or plans to bring in water from other sources locally or from elsewhere
will be implemented. In other words, don't worry, be happy because it is all a
conspiracy made up by doomsayers who are paid to keep people anxious.
Yes it may rain, and we may even get extreme rainfall
just like California did in recent months to break the drought. The spacecraft
will then cruise on. However, the risk is rising that there could be a
catastrophe and risk management is all about trying to reduce the chances of a
catastrophe by implementing actions that prevent it or mitigate its
Hence all people on board must listen to the commander
and make their contribution. Cape Town may not be as remote a city as Perth in
Western Australia, whose closest city is Jakarta in Indonesia; but it is a long
way from the other cities in South Africa and more importantly from other major
sources of water that already exist.
Moreover, one of the factors contributing to the surge in
tourism in the region is the unique ecosystem in and around Cape Town. It too
requires water as do all the local industries including agriculture that are
reliant on water for their products.
In the long run, we can possibly use some of the abundant
sea water in the surrounding ocean to satisfy our needs by constructing
desalination plants. The drawback is that they are expensive and they do
consume quite a lot of power. In 2017, this option is anyway not available for
the spacecraft because construction of such a plant takes some time. Practical
ways to meet the immediate emergency have to be reduction in demand, smarter
recycling, accessing new aquifers and more boreholes.
Ultimately, we are all on this spacecraft together and we
will have to share the load through the coming months. This is not the Titanic
where first class passengers were rescued ahead of the rest. This is the good Spacecraft Cape Town where
all the passengers in all the suburbs that make up the craft share a common
destiny and should be treated in the same way. The lifeboats or rather the
spacesuits are there for everybody in emergency.
May the voyage be successful and make us all feel the
better for it because we have achieved a deeper understanding of being on the
same side in the same team. Avoid fights at all costs!
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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