Cape Town water crisis: My experiences

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
-W. H. Auden

When I visited my family in Cape Town a few weeks ago there was one topic which came up every day; water. Even before had I landed there was announcement on the plane that Cape Town was in the middle of a severe drought and that everyone should use water sparingly. This was followed up with posters in the airport and the first tangible signs of how life had changed. I finished up in the airport bathroom but there was no longer the luxury of soap and water. That had been replaced with waterless hand sanitisers, as in my family’s homes.

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Ignorance Trumps science

One of the most frustrating things about hearing news about Donald Trump is the complete disconnect between the fantasy world in his head and the real world that we all live in. Most of the time, people like that are ridiculous but can be, more or less, ignored. With Trump it’s different because what he does has a large amount of influence.

Given what we know about climate change and the stakes, it’s extremely depressing to see Trump pulling the US out of the Paris climate change agreement, especially when all his reasons to do so seem to be nonsense. He is basically flying against all the climate science that we have and upsetting most of researchers in the process. Continue reading

Cape Town’s open mosque and Islamic reform

A short while back I saw an interesting link in the UCT Free Society Institute newsfeed which led to an interview with Dr Taj Hargey. Dr Hargey is a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University but was born in Cape Town and was speaking about his plans to open an open mosque in Cape Town. By an open mosque he means a mosque where everybody is welcome and where such radical concepts as women and men praying in the same area and entering through the same door are practised. Basically, he wants to bring Islam in line with modern ethics and sensibilities.

Dr Taj Hargey delivering a sermon during at the official opening of the open mosque.

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Photo break

Rain-covered spider web

Rain-covered spider web

One morning this month, as I left for university, I saw a spider-web hanging between two poles in my fence. There was a soft drizzle and the web was heavy with rain drops. I almost went past it but changed my mind, went back and took a photograph before leaving. It’s lucky I did as the web was gone by the time I returned, presumably torn apart by the wind and rain. Ideally, I would’ve liked to have focused only on the web and had everything else blurred but I only had my phone available. In addition, I’m also not sure which settings adjust the depth, just that it can be done. Continue reading

Metallica

Metallica in concert (Source: Big Concerts)


Last week I was really lucky in that I was able to go see Metallica live in concert! In case you don’t know, they are a heavy metal band, active since 1981 and have won nine Grammy Awards (although I only see eight on their Wikipedia page). Metallica was amazing but the concert organisation left something to be desired. Continue reading

From the top of Lion’s Head

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

My lab is hosting a student from the University of Bristol so one of the other students decided it would be nice to have a lab outing. This Tuesday a group of us set off to climb Lion’s Head, one of the mountains around Cape Town. Continue reading

Weekend nature walk

Rondebosch Common with Table Mountain in the background

Rondebosch Common with Table Mountain in the background

I decided, a few weeks back, to make a point to walk on the weekends. Other than that I don’t really get a huge amount of exercise. Luckily, I’m not too far away from a large open area, Rondebosch Common. Many people in the surrounding area go there to walk, with or without their dogs, and it is one of the few places where you can still find Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, which only occurs in Cape Town. According to Wikipedia, 85% of its range has been lost and only 1% of what remains is protected. Rondebosch Common is one of those areas. It’s also interesting to note that South Africa’s Fynbos is one of the most diverse types of vegetation. Continue reading