When it comes to climate change, our survival as a species depends on people (not governments) who will create a sustainable future.  

When it comes to the global denial of climate change, it’s you and me (and not governments) that will make the shift towards a sustainable future.  That’s the view of extreme adventurer, motivational speaker and conservationist Braam Malherbe, who warns that Cape Town’s threat of Day Zero is another example of humanity’s global denial. 

“Having studied climate change for over 19 years, I concur that the single most important thing threatening our survival as a species is climate change. The fact that most humans resist change will be at our peril”, says Malherbe, in response to the peer-reviewed ‘Warning to Humanity’ papers published by over 15 000 scientists from 184 countries for the second time in 2017 (the first in 1992). 

Malherbe explains that humans tend to change for two main reasons: because they are forced to or because of moral conscience. He admits sadly that the former is the main driver.  He points out that we could learn from the evolution of nature, as it has adapted to change over the millennia. Instead there is great denial on the part of humanity, as in the case of Malherbe’s home town of Cape Town. 

“What has ominously been called ‘Day Zero’ is when Cape Town will run out of water! This city is dependent on tourism and will be the FIRST city in the world to run out of water! To avoid ‘Day Zero’ we need to reduce water usage to 50 litres per day. Currently it is estimated that most Capetonians, in spite of the crisis, are using in excess of 150 litres per day”.

Malherbe believes this global denial is reversible, by moving from a space of blame and entitlement to a place of personal ownership: “Many small, seemingly insignificantly acts, have always created massive change. In my speeches around the world, I see the shift in the mindsets of business; companies that thrive understand the basic principal of evolution, by embracing challenges and making the necessary changes to evolve”.

He points out that intelligent companies, worldwide, understand that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option and that their continued success is inextricably linked to the planet and how we treat it. This, he says, is evident globally and particularly in sub Saharan Africa.   

So what can you and I do?   Malherbe says we can all do something and suggests we take a look at these useful Water Saving Tips from Dr. Peter Johnston, Climate Scientist & Researcher at the University of Cape Town.

#DOT – Do One Thing Challenge 

  1. We need water to drink, to cook with, to wash, to flush and to clean (kitchen, laundry, general house)
  2. We need pure water to drink, cook and wash our teeth, faces and hands
  3. The other activities can use water from a rain tank, a borehole, a swimming pool, or even from water that is used for washing our teeth, hands and face.
  4. No clean municipal water should be used to flush our toilets. not let any water down the drains in our house* unless it is seriously dirty or contains food, or human waste remnants.
    *This means keeping bakkies (in the sink) and buckets at every sink to collect water - cleaner water for household purposes, the dirtier water for flushing. In a worst case scenario, tank and pool water can be treated with chlorine bleach and boiled to make it fit for drinking.
  5. Treat every drop of water, fresh or used as a future resource for another use.

Writer credentials: Braam Malherbe, Motivational speaker | Conservationist | Extreme Adventurer