Cape Town drought foresees future weather issues

Sarah Fazio, Staff Reporter

Cape Town, South Africa, a major metropolis of nearly 4 million people, is running of of water. Historically dry rain seasons in the past few years have left reservoirs completely dry. City officials have pushed “Day Zero” to 2019 — the point at which all taps would be cut off, but earlier this year this date was set for as soon as April 12, the city’s water dashboard reports. However, recent cutbacks on civilian usage and a release of 10 million gallons of water by farmers have put off “Day Zero” for now.

The situation is limiting for citizens, who can use no more than 50 liters of water a day, far less than the average American’s daily usage. Many people must travel to a communal water tap to collect water.

Scientists agree that this national disaster has been exacerbated by global warming.

“Droughts are a natural phenomenon in the Western Cape and the effect of climate changes is that it magnifies all weather events—both drought and flooding—and makes them less easy to predict,” said University of Cape Town hydrologist Dr. Piotr Wolski to the Independent.

At Sequoia, students are equally aware of the impacts of climate change. “I know that in small climates the smallest pH change or a single temperature difference has massive effects on small environments, so I don’t think it would be a stretch to say [climate change] has an affect on large scale things as well,” sophomore Maya Hirano said.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the increase in natural disasters can be attributed to extreme temperatures more frequently occurring, both hot and cold. Extremely hot temperatures will possibly lead to droughts and fewer but more severe storms and hurricanes because of increased evaporation which fuels these events.

In California, residents experienced the effects of natural disasters worsened by climate change. From 2011 to 2017, California was in a state of drought declared an emergency by Governor Jerry Brown and late last year, wildfires singed thousands of acres of California land in an especially destructive fire season.

However, steps have been taken to limit global warming. One major agreement, the Paris Climate Accord, was signed by every country by last November except the US. It set the goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial levels. President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in June 2017 in a move widely criticized by the international community, since the US is the world’s 2nd largest polluter in total and the largest polluter per capita.

The president has been a vocal denier of climate change, but over 69 percent of Americans think that it is real, as found by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

“[Climate change] is not necessarily affecting people at the very top who have all the money, so they don’t really see a reason to change it … All they think about is the now and the money they can make … Even recently [Trump]’s trying to get an act passed that takes these carbon emission filters out of companies. His reason for doing that is that is costs too much money to put those filters there. So he definitely does not care about [the climate]” senior Jared Mejia said.

More change must be achieved before the climate can be improved since temperatures continue to rise at very fast rates and natural disasters are progressively becoming more severe.

“People know what [climate change] is. Both being able to combat it small scale and large scale is really important because a lot of people just think that it’s the people’s duty to use less water or take shorter showers and yes, if everyone did that, that would have a huge impact, but the truth is not everyone’s going to do it. And so focusing on large scale ideas, not just focusing on individual people is also super important,” Hirano said.