Being Green

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PROUDLY SPONSORED BY GERLINDE MOSER OF RE/MAX. Being Green – Your window on the environment broadcast every Friday morning at 7.30. John Richards focuses on key issues affecting our lifestyles, science and research outcomes, the quest for sustainable living and a healthier planet.

Being Green - 15 September 2017

Wind Energy Gathering Momentum The competing energy forces are lined up in a sort of military display across the world it seems. Everywhere you go it’s Nuclear versus Renewables, versus Natural Gas, with Coal coming in somewhere down the list, usually with an apology – sorry, but we need it… Don’t worry, I’m not about to lecture you on emissions and Climate Change and who should think what.
The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA)

Being Green - 08 September 2017

On International Coastal Cleanup Day on 16 September, FMR staff together with 150 listeners will be picking up plastic and other litter on Hout Bay beach. The project is in collaboration with Plastics South Africa. In this week’s edition of Being Green, Glynis Crook speaks to its Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, about the international day, why there is such a big litter problem on Hout Bay beach, and if the industry is looking into developing a less toxic and biodegradable version of plastic.

Being Green - 01 September 2017

Recycling is one of the many ways we can help to protect the environment. Among other benefits, it saves energy and raw materials, and reduces the amount of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases produced in landfills. According to 2011 figures, an average South African produces about 3 kilograms of waste per day, but only 10% of this is being recycled annually. iThemba Phakama, a small organisation on the Cape Flats, is trying to change this, and create jobs at the same time. It gives informal waste pickers safety gear and specially made tricycles for transporting what they collect to buy-back centres, allowing members to become individual micro-entrepreneurs. The project was one of the 2017 winners of the prestigious United Nations Switch Africa Green Awards. In this edition of Being Green, we speak to iThemba Phakama's Operations Manager, Stephen Volanie, and Ronald Mukanya, Director Sustainability in the Western Cape government, which is a partner on the project.
iThemba Phakama

Being Green - 25 August 2017

Those of us lucky enough to have electricity in our homes probably still have strong memories of the winter of 2015 when the country experienced regular load-shedding. Rushing home to fill a few flasks with hot water, children trying to get schoolwork done by candlelight, or figuring out at which local take-away you might still be able to buy some warm dinner. But for many, life without electricity is a daily reality. Those living in informal settlements can wait up to 10 years before they get access to an electrical connection. In this edition of Being Green, Glynis Crook speaks to Damian Conway, director of the Sustainability Institute Innovation Lab. It runs a project called iShack which provides individual solar energy to over 1,300 households in the township of Enkanini near Stellenbosch.
iShack Project The Sustainability Institute

Being Green - 18 August 2017

It's estimated that almost one third of food produced in South Africa for human consumption is effectively thrown away, most of it ending up in landfills where it produces a large amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Equally disconcerting it that this happens despite the fact that some 13.8 million South Africans go hungry every day. In this edition of Being Green, we talk to an organisation called Food Forward SA, which is making a difference by collecting edible surplus food and redistributing it to organisations that feed thousands of people daily.
Food Forward SA

Being Green - 11 August 2017

Being Green this week speaks to Peter Johnston, climate researcher at University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analysis Group. He talks about the chances of sufficient rain before the end of winter, what this means for the summer ahead and discusses what more can be done by both the city and residents to stop Cape Town’s taps from running dry.

Being Green - 28 July 2017

We all know the name Albert Einstein, not to be confused with the musicologist Alfred Einstein, and we know the famous e=mc 2 thing, even if we’re a bit hazy about what it means. But I certainly didn’t find the name Milankovitch rolling off my tongue – yet he should be commemorated as a very great scientist. Milutin Milankovitch was born in Serbia the same year as Einstein, and died just a year or two after the celebrated physicist. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geologist, climatologist and engineer – truly one of the great polymaths of the century. But his name is familiar to climatologists in the term Milankovitch Cycles. And it’s worth remembering that term. The news headlines seem obsessed with ‘global warming’ ‘climate change’ - one-and-a-half degree temperature increase – ‘fossil fuels versus sustainable renewables’. We’ve covered the territory here on Being Green haven’t we just? And it’s very important, not to be diminished. Public understanding has gone a long way to helping policymakers, industrialists, engineers, designers, make informed choices to avoid the worst pitfalls of unwise development.
Milutin Milankovitch

Being Green - 21 July 2017

Water in the Rocks Have you noticed how the obligatory chat about the weather has changed in the last little while? Now we say – “Beautiful day – but of course I’d be happy if it were overcast and raining….” The City of Cape town continues to exhort us about saving the precious stuff, and there’s a sort of threnody which repeats – we’re falling short of the savings, it should be - X. But it’s only …Y. Appealing to the guilt response. Well I don’t know about you, but from what I can see, we’re being as dutiful as possible, and many people have instituted things like rainwater harvest, and the use of grey water. But yes, appealing to us to save is good – but what else do they have? What we don’t hear from the City or the Provincial or the National Government are concrete plans to address the crisis – although all are agreed it’s a crisis. Dam levels, or rather the average storage capacity, stands at 26.4 percent, one percent up on the previous week, about 10 Megalitres more. Last year at this time the average was 44 percent. But we may be lucky – more rain is on the way, cold fronts do seem to be increasing in frequency. One good development is that the Table Mountain Group Aquifer, the TMG Aquifer, is in the spotlight at last, with a promise that the pilot study will soon be resumed. The TMG? Group means group of strata characterizing a geological formation, Table Mountain gives its name to this group, or layer, of rocks. Now it’s a very big, very considerable structure and it should be better known. Hydro-geologist Chris Hartnady enlightened us here on B-G earlier this year. The aquifer extends way beyond Table Mountain… “But the area that we are… Chris Hartnady, hydro-geologist. The TMG Aquifer won’t solve our great need for water, but keep a watch out for the resumption of the pilot study. Every drop helps.
Where does our borehole water come from?

Being Green - 14 July 2017

Giant iceberg Splits off Antarctic A huge ice-berg broke off the edge of the Larsen ‘C’ Ice Shelf in Antarctica this week. It was not an unexpected event, as scientists have been monitoring the huge crack in the ice for a number of years, and saw it extending steadily. The Larsen Ice Shelf lies along the Antarctic Peninsula – that bit that sticks up toward South America. The Shelf is one of the largest in Antarctica, and it’s also in a slightly warmer region. This berg broke away from the Larsen C shelf, which is further south and therefore colder than the ‘B’ and ‘A’ shelves. The ice-berg is one of the ten biggest recorded – to give you an idea, it’s about twice the area of Cape Town and the Cape Flats combined, over 100 km long on one axis It’s about 200 -300 metres thick – a lot of ice! Now we often hear about these giant ice-bergs breaking off, or ‘calving’ as it’s called, and the alarmists say – there you are, global warming, the sea level is going to rise, catastrophe! Well as you may expect, it’s not as simple as that. For one thing, this is not like chucking a cube of ice into your drink. The ice was already floating in the sea, although attached by a thin icy membrane to the Larsen C shelf, so the sea level will not rise (think of Archimedes principle which you did at school!) But it’s still a big event, and it’s possible that eventually the ‘berg will drift Northwards into the far South Atlantic, where it may break up and prove hazardous to shipping. Scientists are not alarmed at the development, it’s pretty much as expected, but Professor Helen Fricker of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography explains why it’s necessary to monitor these big events closely. Helen Fricker of the Scripps Institute talking on a BBC report on the giant ice block that is breaking away from the Larsen C Ice-shelf. A number of Earth Observation satellites keep tabs on what the ice is doing in the Antarctic – even though it’s pretty dark there at this time of year, these sophisticated devices can monitor at infra-red wave-lengths and with high-resolution radar, so they can literally see in the dark. It seems the rate of calving of these giant ice-bergs has increased over the past thirty years. Is this a sign of atmospheric warming? Possibly, but only time will tell I suppose.
Project Midas

Being Green - 7 July 2017

WILL TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING SAVE THE PLANET? Things are happening fast in technology and development, or are they? The Swedish-Chinese owned motor manufacturer Volvo created quite a stir this week by announcing the end of the internal combustion engine as we know it. From 2019 Volvo will be turning out cars and trucks that are not ICE based. They will be all-electric, no other mode of propulsion; or hybrid, that is with a small petrol motor to recharge the battery. So that’s not quite the end of the car engine we all know and rely on, is it? Diesel though will be on the decline, in developed countries, including China. Diesel, once hailed as the solution, turns out to be bad for health because the NOx or nasty nitrous compounds in the emissions that get into the air. So more stringent emission control is needed, and that adds to the cost of the vehicle. The Volkswagen exhaust pollution-fraud debacle didn’t help either. So this is the beginning of the end for the I C E? Maybe.

Being Green - 30 June 2017

AQUAPONICS – THE WAY TO FEED MILLIONS WHILST CONSERVING WATER? John Richards talked to Prof James Rakocy, of the University of the Virgin Islands, pioneer developer of the AQUAPONICS cultivation and harvesting method, a revolutionary closed-cycle system whereby food can be grown, both carbohydrate and protein. The method employs fish culture, and the waste products of the fish-rearing provide the plant food in a virtually closed-circuit hydroponic environment. For more on this and the workshops being held by Stellenbosch University on 3 & 4 July, visit the website www.aquaponics4

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