PARCHED EARTH: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg visits Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town, surveying the low water levels from the air. Picture: Dwayne Senior
PARCHED EARTH: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg visits Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town, surveying the low water levels from the air. Picture: Dwayne Senior

#EveryDropCounts: Drought wake-up call on ‘climate change threat’

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 9, 2018

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Cape Town - Billionaire and former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has warned that the extreme drought in Cape Town should be a international wake-up call for all who think climate change is a far-off threat.

Bloomberg, appointed as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action, toured Theewaterskloof Dam on Monday with UCT’s Future Water Research Institute, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and City leaders and said the world should prepare for future water insecurity. 

“We cannot let droughts like this become common around the world. It’s already here, it’s making droughts and storms more dangerous. We have to do more to keep it from getting worse. Cities and businesses are helping to lead the way, but all levels of society in all countries - on all continents - must take bolder actions,” urged Bloomberg.

Dr Kevin Winter from UCT’s Future Water Research Institute agreed, saying the unpredictability of climate change has raised new uncertainties impacting on socio-economic development and environmental sustainability in the region.

“There has been a widely held perception that the onset of climate change would be slow, less erratic and that it would allow more time to prepare for drought. In reality, the impact has been rapid, unpredictable and more far-reaching than expected.

“The combination of climate and weather variability has raised new uncertainties. If the current drought is prolonged it will stretch this city’s resources to the limit and test the ability of its citizens to adapt to heightened levels of living in an uncomfortable urban environment and risk.”

Winter said it was unclear how the city was going to find the resources to address conditions predicted to be more drought-prone, drier and warmer. Dr Gisela Kaiser and Peter Flower of the City’s Water and Sanitation Department said the drought had exposed the City’s vulnerability being solely reliant on surface water. Long-term plans required diversified water supply, "impossible to achieve in one season, thus cutting demand is critical”.

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Cape Argus

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