Stewardship of the Natural Environment:

When considering the meaning of the word, “stewardship”, one can assume that the title, “Stewardship of the Natural Environment” refers to the responsibility and duty of taking care of nature while ensuring that it stays intact. One may ask who exactly has this large responsibility assigned to themselves, in actual fact we as inhabitants of earth are responsible if taking care of our precious planet. We have been assigned this responsibility to take care of what has been given to us to appreciate and cherish.

To get a better understanding of what it is exactly that we as human beings and care-takers of the natural environment have been assigned to protect, I set aside a time to visit a green area in Pretoria. The area that I visited is the garden in Hatfield between Madelief and Magrietjie, the two ladies residences. This is a very peaceful place to sit down, as there are benches, and there are also footpaths which allow you to walk through the garden when going from the one residence to the next. During my visit to this garden, I made some notes and also started thinking about various issues that need to be addressed regarding conserving nature.

The garden is unfortunately right in the centre of Hatfield, so all the city sounds can be heard in the background, but overall the area is still peaceful, with a fresh and renewing feel about it. While sitting in the garden I noted the fauna and the flora of my surroundings, to create better perception of what it is exactly that I, as a human being, should be aiming to protect and take care of. The garden is constructed, as the plants do not grow wild.

The plants that can be seen consists of flowers, grass, shrubs, bushes and trees. There are quite a lot of trees, so when sitting on the benches the canopy completely covers you, and small pieces of the sky can be seen through the trees’ leaves and branches. Considering that the garden is situated amongst the city area, there aren’t many animals that can be found, one can actually note how increasing human activity affects the animal diversity and population. There are small animals however, such as lizards, insects and birds.

For me personally I feel that this garden has significant importance in the area that it is situated, as it is serves as a much needed escape from the fast paced lifestyle of students in the city and all the consumer based businesses in the area. It is very possible for people staying in the residences to take a study break by going to sit in the garden, it is even possible to study there. Seeing that there are always people walking through the garden, it is important that the area is looked after, and kept in a good condition.

There are often people who sit in the garden to take a smoke break, in general this is damaging to the environment. The smoke of the cigarette could be damaging to the plants growing in the garden in the long run, and so can the cigarette itself if it is not properly disposed of. It should be made very clear that cigarettes should be thrown in the provided bins, and are not to be thrown between that plants.

Ultimately we are responsible of taking care of what we expect we have the right to enjoy. If we expect that the environment will stay intact without taking the necessary steps to conserve it, we are horribly wrong. We are stewards of the natural environment.

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Theme 5: Photo Elicitation

Photo elicitation refers to making use of photographs while conducting a research interview. Inserting a photograph into an interview is usually a very useful tool in assisting the interviewee to talk about a certain topic, and they are able to get a visual perception rather than relying solely on their imagination and memory. When making use of a photograph the flow of conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee is much more effective, as feelings, memories and information is evoked.

 

There are various stories that trees can tell, there are many messages and meaning hidden inside them, these stories affect the way we see trees, especially in the city. We definitely treat trees differently and use them or protects them differently once we hear their narratives. As mentioned in (Dean,2015), there are three traditional narratives regarding the way we see trees in our everyday lives, namely, the narrative of service, the narrative of power, and the narrative of heritage. There is one counter narrative however, and this is the unruly narrative.

The Narrative of Service:

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This narrative has to do with trees that provide selflessly for human beings to create convenience and ease for them. The types of services tree would often provide is are things like shade, shelter, decoration, protection, resources and health benefits (Dean, 2015). This is an image of a tree swing, this is a perfect example of a tree simply providing for us without expecting anything in return. This type of service is for recreational purposes.

The Narrative of Power:

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This narrative refers to the way in which humans have control over trees, whether it’s where they are planted, how they are shaped, or how they are forced to grow (Dean, 2015). In the given photograph the example of a Bonsai tree is a perfect example of the narrative of power. The growth of these trees are controlled by humans for their own personal reasons, who thus have power over the trees.

 

 

 

 

The Narrative of Heritage:

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The narrative of heritage has to do with a tree which gives some cultural insight of the area, types of people or events that took place in and around the area of the tree (Dean, 2015). The following tree is a huge Baobab tree in one of the camps in the Kruger National Park. This tree is more than 1000 years old, and can be considered as an extraordinary sight and attraction that perfectly represents South African heritage. In ancient African cultures this tree was considered as the “Tree of Life”.

 

 

 

 

The Unruly Narrative:

The unruly tree narrative refers to trees as being non-beneficial for humans, on the contrary, they can be messy, dangerous, cause problems, or simply take up needed space (Dean, 2015). In many cases trees become a nuisance instead of being beneficial for example, the roots of large trees generally grow large as well, and start pushing u form under the ground. In most cases these roots, if the tree is planted in a city area, start lifting up pavement or even cause unevenness on roads.

Photo Elicitation:

Interview 1: a peer

(Heetun, T, 2016) stated that the trees she sees on campus make up her narrative of service. These trees have a calming effect for her, when she is able to see them and simply focus on their beauty after a stressful day working hard on campus. She also feels that the area they are planted has a perfect atmosphere to escape from the fast pace of student life, and to simply relax for a while. These trees along with the rest of the plants in this green area actually have health benefits, as they provide oxygen.  The narrative power also consists of trees that can be found on the University of Pretoria campus. The trees that are being described are planted in a very obvious straight line on either side of a road, to create a canopy growing over the road.

The tree narrative of heritage that (Heetun, T, 2016) refers to is a Eucalyptus tree that is 97meters tall and can be found in Magoebaskloof, Woodbush forest Reserve. This tree is rumoured to be one of the tallest trees in the world. This tree can be regarded as a heritage site, as it has been present during historical events such as wars, and it can still be found. The unruly tree that (Heetun, T, 2016) refers to is one from her childhood, an oak tree that used to make a huge mess with leaves falling. The tree also blocked most of the sunlight off on the front side of the house. This tree also had big roots that were starting to crack the pavement, and ultimately the tree served as an easy entrance into the yard for burglars.

Interview 2: a parent

(Verster, D, 2016) started her narrative of service story by referring to the two large trees that she had in her back garden as a child. Between these two trees hung a hammock for members of the family to relax on. The trees served as anchor points for the hammock to be tied around in order for it to hang off the ground. These trees were used for recreational purposes, benefitting the family members, but not the tree, as it often occurs in the service narrative.

When looking at the narrative of power, (Verster, D, 2016) referred to the peach tree her father had planted in front of their house during her childhood days. This story is a narrative of power because the place in which the tree was planted was completely controlled to ensure that it was placed in the perfect spot, with the right amount of sunlight, and exposure to rain. Another part of the story of this tree is how it was trimmed every season, this is definitely power exhorted from the human’s side to control the pace and the way in which the tree grows.

The Narrative of heritage that (Verster, D, 2016) told was one of a tree not too far from her house, about two block down the road. This tree was planted in a park, and on it was a heart engraving with the letters M and R inside. This tree really sums up something that took place at a certain point in time, and it is physically captured in the form of an engraving on the tree. This engraving is a representation of the culture of the people in the area, and will be carried across generations.

The unruly tree that (Verster, D, 2016) tells about is about the mulberry tree in their back garden, planted beside the washing line. This tree was extremely big, and although it provided the family with delicious mulberries, and of course leaves for pet silkworms, the fallen mulberries created such a mess. The mulberries would stain not only the children’s fee as they run on the fallen ones, but also the clothes that were hung up to dry on the washing line, as they fell.

Interview 3: grandparent

(Nel, P, 2016) tells the story of her tree house when referring to the narrative of service. The large tree in their background was perfect for building a tree house in. the branches served as great beams to rest the floorboards on, and ensured that the treehouse would always be safe and stable. This is also a recreational service that the tree provided, solely providing to serve the family members, while the tree has no actual benefit.

The narrative of power that (Nel, P, 2016) refers to is the forest of trees she saw when going on holiday with the family during her young adult years. These trees were planted in perfect straight and evenly spaced rows. In some places younger trees were planted. This is a perfect example of how humans are in complete control of how the trees grow, are planted, are harvested and are cut down. The natural processes of the trees are altered in such a way as to provide for the farmers who are in charge of them.

(Nel, P, 2016) stated that the tree narrative of heritage could be seen on a tree in a local play park close to home, where there was a swimming pool and a braai area. The braai area was built under the tree, probably for the purpose of providing shade. The heritage of the people that spent their time here is clear in the way the branches of the tree that right above the braai has been turned black from all the smoke. This is a very good representation of the South African Afrikaans culture that was popular in the area at the time.

The untruly tree that (Nel, P, 2016) refers to is the tree just outside the town where she bought her first apartment. This tree is extremely old, and has died quite a few back. The branches have dried up, and therefore sometimes parts of it would fall down into the road. There has been a case where a branch has fallen on a car, and caused some serious damage. The branches often fall down and cause a blockade on the road that prevents cars driving on the road from passing.

In the end it has been proven that conducting a photo elicitation interview is extremely effective. All of the people that have been interviewed were able to remember memories relating to the same topics, since they could visually understand the questions that were being asked and discussed. The interviewer and the interviewee are easily able to start a conversation that continues to flow consistently.

 

List of sources:

Dean, J.2015. The unruly tree: stories from archives, in Urban forests, trees, and greenspace: a political ecology perspective, edited by LA Sandberg, A Bardekjian & S Butt. New York: Routledge: 162-175

Heetun, T. student, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Transcript]. 11 May. Pretoria

Nel, J. pentioner, 2016. Interview by author. [Transcript]. 9 May. Pretoria

Tinkler, P. 2013. Using photographs in social and historical research. London: SAGE.

Verster, D. Gijima. 2016. Intrview by author, [Transcript]. 11 May. Pretoria

Theme 4: Slow Violence

When looking at Nixon’s “Slow Violence and the environmentalism of the poor”, one can see what the notion of “slow violence” means. This concept refers to destruction that often remains hidden and has devastating impacts over a longer period of time. The negative impacts are described as being delayed, as the effects cannot be seen immediately. These acts of violence often aren’t perceived as violence, since violence usually occurs instantly, and the impacts or consequences are immediate. Slow violence can possibly have an impact that causes just as much damage, if not more, and therefore it should be addressed and prevented.

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Nature is something so beautiful, filled with millions of species of plants, animals, and everything in between. Nature is a place of serenity, it allows one to get in touch with yourself, to learn more about the history of the earth and also oneself. Nature is decorated in colour by things like flowers, these are vibrant, and of course beautiful. There is something so satisfying about seeing a bright flower contrasting against the green of the rest of the plants.

Though this contrast of vibrant colour against the natural green of plants is something so spectacular, it is suddenly exactly the opposite when these colours appear on anything other than flowers. We have all surely noticed that packaging only becomes brighter and brighter, and more frequently appears amongst the green plants found in nature. These bright packing with ranges of hues almost appear to be pretending to be flowers, attempting to take their place, without anyone noticing that the real flowers no longer exist.  This is a constant cycle in human activity, nature is continually replaced by man made inventions that attempt to provide the same satisfaction, but what we fail to realise is that it is a form of slow violence.

The human species has a way of taking everything useful, or even beautiful for granted. They always attempt at creating something even better, but creating a void that cannot and will never be able to be filled with man made inventions. Humans have a way of falling subject to their greed for something better than what is already available, that they are slowly but surely killing themselves. For example, fast food is temporary satisfaction, but as soon as it is thrown on the ground, there is nothing satisfying about it, besides the packaging doesn’t simply damage the environment, but firstly causes destruction within the human body itself.

There are long lasting effects of these plastic, paper and metal flowers that man has created. They cannot provide to the earth like natural flowers can, and therefore robs nature’s ability to flourish, and later effects creatures who depend on nature. The element of mutual respect is absent, humans desire the satisfaction of seeing colourful flowers, but apparently not enough to prevent them from being replaced by something that provides a more instant satisfaction. Actions of the present can affect the future more severely that we realise. Being caught up in selfish desires of satisfaction leads to slow violence with affects that will be regretted.

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Sources consulted:

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow Violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 

 

Theme 3: Companion Species

When looking at at Haraway’s “The Companion Species Manifesto”, it is evident that she is aiming at convincing readers that history is important in nature cultures. The main strategy of achieving this goal is through analysing dog-human relationships to show the relation between humans and nature as well as the affects the lack of this relationship has on the world. Haraway states that natural species make life for humans what it is today, while humans make life what it is today for natural species too. The following exploration of the topic of “companion species” will take place in the form of a photo essay to visually portray the relationship between humans and nature, through using the dog-human relationship.

Image 1

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This is an image of my dad as a young, newly wed man, holding his Boxer dog puppy. This dog formed quite a big part of my dad’s life, especially since he is such a big dog lover. Due to the fact that at this stage he was newly married to my mother, they did not have children yet, and therefore the dog played the role of a child, as you can see with the way it’s sitting on his lap, and even wearing a hat. My dad would definitely describe this dag as being loving, playful, extremely energetic, adventurous, rebellious but definitely loyal. My mom and day have been the dog’s only owners, and definitely went through many life experiences with the dag by their sides.

Image2:

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In this image you can see one of my best friends cuddled up with his Labrador. My friend is also a huge animal lover, and has had dogs throughout his whole childhood. There is definitely a life story with this dog, because he grew up with the dog. My friend moved out to go to college, and therefore had to leave both his mother and his dog behind to enter this new phase of his life. Every time he visits home it’s as if he never left, his dog runs at him and immediately starts playing with him. If my friend were to mention personality traits of the dog it would consist of loyalty, loving, friendly, protective, obedient, comforting and playful.

Image 3:

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My sister honestly has a very close relationship with the Schnauzer dog we have at the moment. She did not have the dog for most of her childhood, so it is not part of her whole life story, but has been a huge part of her teenage life. Due to the good relationship that my sister has with our dog, she allows it to sleep on her bed some nights. We adopted this dog when she was a puppy from its previous owners whose dogs gave birth to it. Our dog’s personality is bold, courageous, adventurous, energetic, friendly, loving, dependent, loving, and jealous at times where we give more attention to other dogs.

Image 4:

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This is an image of me as a young girl playing dress up with my Scottish terrier dog. This dog was a part of most of my life, and I definitely have a lot of memories with it. I can definitely, without a doubt say that my relationship with this dog was very strong. As it grew older, I grew up, and therefore shared so many experiences. We also adopted this dog as a puppy, and raised it. The characteristics of this dog includes being loving, obedient, adventurous, playful, soft-hearted, happy and very dependent of being around people.

 

Sources consulted:

Haraway, D. 2007.The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Verster, C, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Recorded]. 16 April. Pretoria

Verster, F, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Recorded]. 16 April. Pretoria

Potgieter, R, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Recorded]. 16 April. Pretoria

 

Theme 2: Anthropocene

To be able to analyse how ecosystems as well as fauna and flora are effected, one must first consider Anthropocene and the fact that it refers to the age where human activity is dominant and that everything revolves around it or is affected in one way or another. As mentioned in (Whitehouse 2015:55), birds and other wildlife species are under threat due to everyday human activities. There is an uncertainty about the future of the natural environment, that can be referred to as “anxious semiotics”, there are various changes that cannot be predicted, such as the decrease of species, the increase of other species, or the change in the habits of species.

To demonstrate the presence of the Anthropocene I created a soundscape as a representation. The soundscape derived from me writing down different sounds I heard in different areas, this way I can successful prove whether the dominant sounds of the soundscape is that of the Anthropocene.  Since the Anthropocene is formed by human activities, the sounds from this should the dominant sound in the soundscape to prove that the Anthropocene exists.

On day one the soundscape that I created was from the sounds I heard at home, in quite a silent area that is not in the inner city area. During the types of sounds that were dominant and mostly constant were sounds like the lawn being mowed, the buzzing of my computer, cars driving, my mother working in the kitchen, my phone vibrating, and other buzzing sounds probably caused my machinery. Some of the sounds that aren’t constant or dominant most of the time in my soundscape were sounds like birds chirping outside, dogs barking, my dog scratching itself, and the wind blowing.

On day two the soundscape I created was for my residence room, in general this area is noisy, and there is rarely a moment of complete silence. The most dominant sounds I heard were sounds of people talking and shouting, construction, cars driving and hooting, police and ambulance sirens, blaring music and people using the lift inside the residence. The sounds that were less dominant were sounds like the ticking of my clock, the buzzing of my fridge, kettles boiling, microwaves, toilet flushing and people showering, and general sounds or people moving around in their rooms.

All of the dominant sounds as suspected fall part of the Anthropocene. Most of theses sounds were of machinery and other man made inventions or activities. The Anthropocene also represents our relationship as human being with our surrounding environment, and in this case it is overrun by human living and all processes that come along with it.

When conducting the exercise of listening to the sound of birds in the midst of the Anthropocene one starts to realise the disruptions and changes human behaviour has caused in the avian special and also the natural environment. Finding a place to listen to the sounds of birds is difficult, since it is not the dominant sound, and the change in the natural environment has caused natural species to relocate, and thus decreasing the amount of birds in areas where Anthropocene thrives. Listening to birds allows one to take the natural processes into consideration once again, and almost gives a sort of calmness and escape from the fast paced world of the Anthropocene (Whitehouse 2015:53).

These responses are influenced by the awareness of the changes that the Anthropocene brings to the mix of sounds that can be heard. Due to the changes that the Anthropocene brings, we realise the loss of the small yet beautiful things in life such as birds singing, that has always been taken for granted. Specifically focusing on trying to hear birds at the stage where the Anthropocene has developed so rapidly, a new appreciation for nature arises. One realises that the natural environment and areas of human activity are no longer separated, as humans have taken over natural environments and habitats. As mentioned in Silent Spring, the concern that spring would literally be silent in the sense that there would soon no longer be environmental indicators of the change of seasons, such as birds that start singing at the start of spring (Whitehouse 2015:53-54).

Considering the fact that I was able to hear some birds singing may sound like a positive, but I can not fail to mention that it was an effort, and that sounds created by humans were quite overpowering. When listening to birds, there definitely were not songs from a large number of bird species, in fact there was a maximum of three species that I heard. Because only about three bird species were present, it is becoming more evident that biodiversity is continually decreasing and becoming less powerful. The lack of biodiversity can be directly liked to the negative environmental impacts of the Anthropocene.

Deidre Verster (2016), my mother, stated that the types of animals and bird life that were found in their area while growing up included, different types of small birds, flied mice, dogs and cats. She says that in her opinion there is a larger range of birds that she sees at home now, than in her days as a child. My mother did however live in the city area, so just like today and wild animals were driven away, and therefore we not see.

According to Joan Nel (2016), the grandmother, there was a larger biodiversity than today. She saw quite a wide range of birds, such as owls, doves, guinea fowl, woodpeckers, swallows etc. She also saw some other animal species that aren’t seen today, such as guinea pigs, bung beetles, monkeys, cameleons, frogs etc.

After these two interviews with people from two different generations, it has become very clear that there is indeed a decrease in the biodiversity. Looking at the different types of animals that were present in the time of my grandmother compared to the time of my mother’s childhood the numbers are completely different, and the range of species differ as well. Taking these numbers into consideration and looking at the animals seen today is quite shocking, there is such a huge difference in the presence of animals.

Since Anthropocene has increased and humans have rapidly taken over natural habitats it is only understandable that biodiversity and the number of animals have decreased. Human activity has changed the living environments of animals in negative ways, and has prohibited them from flourishing in these areas, causing animal species to move away in search of new environments to flourish. Since humans are only taking over more natural areas, animals are put under a lot of pressure to survive, and it is true that some species become extinct due to the way in which humans have altered the environment.

Looking at my personal experience, to be honest I cannot necessarily recognise a change in biodiversity and the presence of animal species in my surroundings. It is true that during my childhood the biodiversity was already low, and the amount of animals were limited to mostly birds. Looking at various areas that I have found myself throughout my childhood I can definitely recognise the contrast in animal species, for example at my childhood home, which was not in the inner city, there were often birds, and sometimes rabbits around the area. In the city however there are fewer birds, and no other animals.

I can definitely say that a degradation of ecosystems is something I can easily see. Throughout my childhood I have seen only more and more constructions, more fields being cleared, more pollution and a drastic increase in all human activities. The more human activity took place, the less animals and bird species were seen in the area.

In conclusion, firstly considering the sounds in our sound scape today, one can very clearly see that human activities are dominating over the environment. As mentioned before the sounds that overpower the natural sounds are those of machines and other man made inventions. The fact that hearing birds is difficult also proves that they are most likely not present enough to be heard. Looking at the decrease in the physical natural ecosystems and environments that were once the home for animal species, one can prove that Anthropocene exists and is only increasing. Biodiversity continues to decrease due to the decrease in natural habitats, due to Anthropocene.

 

Sources consulted:

Gisli, P et al. 2013. Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene: integrating   the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research. Environmental Science & Policy 28:3-13.

Steffen, W et al. 2011. The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369:842-867.

Waters, CN et al. 2016. The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science 351(6269):[sp].

Whitehouse, A. 2015. Listening to birds in the Anthropocene: the anxious semiotics of sound in a human-dominated world. Environmental Humanities 6:53-71.

Verster, D, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Recorded]. 10 April. Pretoria

Nel, J, University of Pretoria. 2016. Interview by author. [Recorded]. 10 April. Pretoria

Theme 1:Environmental Humanities and the Media

Theme 1: Environmental Humanities and the Media

 

  1. Insufficient Water supply in South Africa:

 

  1. Articles addressed:

 

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/confronting-south-africas-water-challenge

 

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/South-Africas-looming-water-disaster-20141103

 

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-11-06-no-drop-to-waste-tackling-south-africas-water-crisis/#.VwDZJ7TOHR0

 

  1. Points based on the above articles:

 

  • Who and what are the drivers of change?

 

Some of the drivers of change regarding the decrease in water supply in South Africa is, environmental factors such as drought. The demand for water use in places such as agriculture, mining and other industrial activities, and also the growth of urban areas also affects the supply of water to various sectors (Boccaletti, Stuchtey and van Olst 2010:[sp]). The main drivers of change, causing the water supply to decrease further are the people living in South Africa, and their habits regarding water use, but drought periods have also played a huge role (Thelwell 2014: [sp]). There are various causes of water wastage that also decreases the availability of water, such as, leaking taps and pipes which go unchecked.

 

  • What is happening?

 

South Africa is a dry country in general, seeing that the average global worldly rainfall is about 860mm, while that of South Africa is 464mm, which is about half (Teagle 2015: [sp]). Considering the fact that South Africa is so dry, periods of  extreme drought sends water needs spiralling out of control. In general the country has been built around mining industries and not to supply water, therefore there is a struggle to cope with excessive drought, and like one can see it leads to a water crisis and insufficient water supply throughout the country. South Africa in general is dependant on neighbouring nations for its water supply, because of the country’s low rainfall and limited underground aquifers (Boccaletti, Stuchtey and van Olst 2010:[sp]).

 

There are droughts occurring in South Africa’s neighbouring countries as well, this only increases the effects if the crisis. These neighbouring countries are responsible for supply of water to South Africa in many cases, which has become impossible because of the lack of water (Steyn 2016: [sp]). Water shortages play a huge role in the uprising of many other issues in the country such as negative food security, inflation, overloading at ports, mass migration, loss of agriculture and  livestock, interruption of hydropower supplies for electricity etc.

 

The inhabitants of South Africa do not necessarily control water supply when it comes to rainfall, or in this case, the lack thereof, but they do play a significant role In the way water is used, distributed and conserved. Considering that the country is already dry, people should be aware of the precautions they should take to help the country cope with the rising issue of insufficient water supply. Seeing that South Africa was originally built around mining, and that the urban areas are increasing, these industries have direct impacts on the amounts and quality of water that is available.

 

 

 

The mining industry is very large in South Africa, as mentioned, especially in Gauteng, Johannesburg, in this industry large amounts of water is used and large amount are left toxic with acids and other chemicals, and can therefore not be consumed unless purifies efficiently (Teagle 2015: [sp]); (7 reasons why water crisis is far worse than Eskom 2015: [sp]). The growing population in both urban and rural settlements is placing greater stress on South Africa’s water supply. The growth of rural populations affects the water quality due to the fact that 19 percent of the rural population lacks access to reliable water, the percentage of rural communities that don’t have basic sanitation lies at 33 percent. It is shocking to hear that together in both urban and rural schools, over 26 percent of them have no access to water. The lack of sanitation in many rural areas leads to water pollution, as people waste into the water, causing it to become toxic and disease ridden.

 

  • What can be done?

 

Some of the basic things that can be done to prevent the water supply from decreasing so rapidly is to simply encourage individuals to conserve as much water as possible. Water conservation is crucial in these times of water shortage, as every drop counts. Water can be conserved in many cases by ensuring that pipes don’t leak and that taps aren’t left dripping (Thelwell 2014: [sp]). According to Mission 2017’s Solutions there are two aspects that need to be addressed to solve the insufficient water supply problems. Firstly a way to get water to people who don’t have access is important, and secondly, an available water source with sufficient water supply is needed. A current solution that has been implemented is transporting water to areas that has a greater demand from urban areas that have access to water to a greater degree. This is a good solution, dispersing available water in a way that as many areas as possible can have access to it is priority.

 

Delivery routes via trucks, and water meters for transporting and distributing water could be very useful for the reduction of water loss and water being wasted during transport. Pipes in urban areas especially could be replaced more regularly to prevent them from bursting or wearing out and causing huge amounts of water to be wasted. It is said that farmers are able to develop ways to produce the same amounts of food while using less water. Instead of using flood irrigation systems that are wasteful, farmers can switch to micro jet technology, and from drop irrigation to satellite technology (Teagle 2015: [sp]).

 

  1. Environmental Humanities analysis of the articles:

 

  1. Some of the drivers of change regarding insufficient water supply in South Africa does relate to the “Great Acceleration” of human technologies. Powers and consumption. The factors such as drought however cannot be related to the “Great Acceleration”, but the things like mining and industrial activities influencing water supply can.

The politics play a huge role in the overall distribution and safekeeping of water supplies, therefore the political factors that drive the change will include, importing water, exporting water, transporting water, industries using water, pipes and irrigation, water supply. Politics also come into play when looking at the use of water in households and businesses, as well and towns. Some of the cultural factors along with societal factors that drive the change will include the area that people live in and the access they have to various tools such as sanitation, and access to knowledge of the increasing water crisis, and the need for water conservation and protection of water sources. The culture of various people and the overall culture of an area considering its industries will impact the water crisis in different ways.

The institutional factors are definitely drivers of change when talking about the acceleration in water insufficiency. The “Great Acceleration” refers to the increasing of human activities and control locally and globally. Institutions are everywhere and they make it possible for everything to function the way it does. The institutional factors such as industries related to mining, agriculture, and so on, are driving forces of change, and they do relate to the “Great Acceleration”. These industries/ institutions drive the change in the sense that they consume the largest amounts of water.

 

  1. In the case of considering “The New Human Condition”, and the current insufficiency of water the presence or absence of solutions are looked at. When looking at the current water crisis at hand it is rather difficult to come up with a successful and lasting solution, but that doesn’t mean that the problem was denied. In this case there are various adjustments that have been made in the way water is distributed and used in order to cope. In this case it was actually necessary for a strategy before the water insufficiency reached this intensity. In many cases the reaction toward the problem at hand was in alarm and despair because the effects have been shocking and have long lasting impacts. Action was and is still being taken, and in most cases due to the intensity of the problem the stage of denial has passed.

 

  1. Many companies incorporate solutions for the problem at hand into their CSR programmes. Many organisations such as local churches organise water drives where members of the community are asked and encouraged to fill up bottles with water from their homes, this water is then distributed to areas where there is no water available. A company that might successfully be able to partner with the community is, Marley Pipe Systems. This company manufactures water pipes, and a way in which they could contribute to implementing the solutions is to maybe sponsor, or simply design pipes that are more durable to prevent pipes from leaking and wasting water.

 

  1. The solutions that are being implemented are definitely communicated to the public, and they are encouraged to participate. The public is made aware of ways to save water by implementing basic water conservation techniques. In some cases water supply is also cut off to the public in various areas to make sure that water usage is kept to a minimum. Instructions for water usage are also given to ensure the maximum amount of water is conserved.

 

  1. Yes, the solutions are rather simple, and can be applied by anyone who does have access to water. This water conservation will not entirely solve the problem, but it will however help in a huge way. In some cases some people do not have access to water, such as in rural areas, in these cases the people will not be able to implement the solutions that those with access to water can.

 

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http://mg.co.za/article/2016-01-14-droughts-devastating-ripple-effect

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Water Access in South Africa. 2016. [O]. Available:

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7 Reasons why water crisis is far worse than Eskon. 2015. [O]. Available:

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Accessed: 3 April 2016

 

Boccaletti, G, Stuchtey, M & van Olst, M. 2010. Confronting South Africa’s water challenge. [O]. Available:

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/confronting-south-africas-water-challenge

Accessed: 2 April 2016

 

Thelwell, E. 2014. South Africa’s looming water disaster. [O]. Available:

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/South-Africas-looming-water-disaster-20141103

Accessed: 30 March 2016

 

Teagle, A. 2015. No drop to waste: Tackling South Africa’s water crisis. [O]. Available:

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-11-06-no-drop-to-waste-tackling-south-africas-water-crisis/#.VwDZJ7TOHR0

Accessed: 3 April 2016