Claim: Cape Town "Day Zero" Drought Caused by Global Warming

Cape Town city bowl and molteno reservoir.
Cape Town city bowl and molteno reservoir. By Abu Shawka (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Cape Town is running very short of water – so short authorities expect to switch off the taps in July. But the problems were not caused by global warming.

Cape Town is approaching drought ‘Day Zero’, and climate change could be to blame

As water supplies run low in South African city, analysis by local scientists suggests global warming will make such ‘freak’ events commonplace in years to come

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent Saturday 3 March 2018 14:00 GMT

Cape Town is in the grip of a drought widely regarded as the worst in recorded history – one that could see it become the first city in the world to run out of water.

The city is edging closer to a day – known locally as “Day Zero” – when supplies are so low authorities will have to cut off water to three quarters of the population.

Far from being a hypothetical scenario, Day Zero has a set date. It is currently expected on 9 July.

The perfect storm of conditions that led to this drought, specifically three consecutive years of extremely low rainfall, would generally be expected no more than once in a millennium.

Predicting such “freak” events is tricky for scientists, but one thing is clear: climate change appears to have played a significant role in the Cape’s current misfortune, and it is set to make such events far more likely in the years to come.

Read more:

Back in the real world, the Cape Town water crisis has a more mundane explanation;

The cause of the crisis

The civil society group, South African Water Caucus, reveals that national government’s reluctance to release drought relief funding stemmed from spiralling debt, mismanagement and corruption in the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

This claim is supported by the Auditor General, which attributes “irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure” to the department exceeding its 2016-2017 budget by R110.8 million.

The department has no funding allocated to drought relief in the Western Cape next year. Again, provincial government will have to foot the bill.

Had systems in national government been running smoothly, Cape Town’s water crisis could have been mitigated. Appropriate water allocations would have made more water available to Cape Town. And with timely responses to disaster declarations, water augmentation infrastructure could have been up and running already.

Cape Town teaches us that water crises are rarely a matter of rainfall. Understanding disasters like droughts involves seeing the issue from many different perspectives, including politics.

Read more:

There is no doubt Cape Town is suffering an unusually severe drought – but unusually severe droughts occur sometimes in drought prone areas.

What is obvious is the current water crisis would have been far more manageable if the South African Government had done more to root out waste, corruption and gross incompetence.

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Tom Halla
March 3, 2018 6:37 pm

Most places with a Mediterranean climate have droughts, but it seems that bad water management by politicians is the common feature with California and the Eastern Cape Province water shortages.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 3, 2018 7:18 pm

+1 They blame people that think rain will eventually come like it usually does on the problem instead of blaming themselves for drought that usually comes like it usually does.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 4, 2018 4:04 am

Marxism = No water No food No etc………………

Reply to  Robertvd
March 4, 2018 12:17 pm

This will all be moderated when the new administration clears the constitutional hurdles, removes the white settlers from the Transvaal and deeds the land to the black population.
It worked so well in Zimbabwe.
Seriously, the day will come when Apartheid will be seen as a golden age in SA history.

Reply to  Robertvd
March 4, 2018 12:56 pm

In reality, they won’t be deeding the land to just random blacks, it will go to those who are either friends or family of the current leaders, or to those who offered the biggest bribes.
Competence at farming not necessary, and to a large degree, not desired.

Reply to  Robertvd
March 5, 2018 9:12 am

“Seriously, the day will come when Apartheid will be seen as a golden age in SA history.” If you have ever been to SA, you will have heard many people say when disusing crumbling infrastructure “Welcome to the new South Africa”. People already know it is falling apart. The farming issue is just the final straw.
Please know that I don’t agree with the oppression that occurred during Apartheid. I am just pointing out that what is happening now is no good. Similar to many former colonies, when the group who used to be an oppressed majority gets power, disaster happens. From Rwanda to Sri Lanka, you see this happen over and over again. I have no idea how to prevent it, but it would be great if someone could figure it out.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 6, 2018 1:00 pm

The problem is they never built a desalinization plant. Build a desal plant it it will rain……. just like farms used to believe that rain follows the plow!

Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 6:47 pm

“There is no doubt Cape Town is suffering an unusually severe drought”
Which can cause water shortage. And may well be connected with AGW. One expected effect of that is that the Hadley cells will expand. The belt of westerly winds that brings winter rain to Cape Town and nearby is from where the Hadley circulation descends; this latitude oscillates with seasons, and comes N in the winter. Perth, WA is at a very similar latitude and situation, and gets rain (rather more) from the same source. It and the SW have been drying in recent years. Here is a plot:comment image
The difference in the trend line is about 200 mm, a significant amount.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 7:15 pm
Reply to  lee
March 3, 2018 7:16 pm

Looks like it extends to about 2005

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  lee
March 3, 2018 8:35 pm

Huh, Nick’s plot starts right around the 1946 peak. Isn’t that a coinkydink?

Reply to  lee
March 4, 2018 9:47 am

Only the best cherries go into Nick’s Cherry Picker Pie!

Tim Fritzley
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 7:20 pm

Which has nothing to do with their current situation.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 7:34 pm

Nick, there is no connection to AGW. It’s a falsified concept (CRU emails anybody?) and to try and link it to this situation is disengenious. Nice try but when you have conclusive proof that AGW is the absolute and only cause of this Cape Town problem, I’ll take the corruption story any day.

Reply to  Craig
March 3, 2018 8:36 pm

Of course you cannot get absolute proof of a negative, namely that AGW is not causing Cape Town’s problem. Global warming (whether caused by humans or not) may well have caused this long drought – we simply do not present.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Bishkek
Reply to  Craig
March 4, 2018 6:59 am

I have studied the rainfall patterns in the summer and winter rainfall regions of Southern Africa for 40 years. There is a Metonic cycle of high and low rainfall with a period of almost 19 years in the summer rainfall area. The winter rainfall region, specifically Cape Town, has 400 years of data. Using a time series analysis it is clear there is a sinusoidal cycle with a duration of ten years. The origin is unknown.
When the two cycles align, they compound the drought problem. I believe there is zero AG influence on the rainfall. The temperature has not changed, the evaporation pans (1600 stations) show no change in 85 years.
When the dry ends of the cycles align, there is a major drought.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 8:28 pm

They didn’t come close to matching growing water demands with increases in water supply over past decades. They cancelled, delayed, and cut-back emergency desal plant contracts that would be correcting this mess. SAF is a poster-child for poor planning and management, but morons want to blame global warming. They were warned repeatedly over the past decade that growing population and water demands were going to exceed supply around this time, and they kept kicking the can down the road. The drought just made this sad reality appear a few years earlier than projected. Imagine if SAF had been spending attention and money on solutions to real problems instead of “fighting” climate change.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
March 3, 2018 8:35 pm

Very like California.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
March 4, 2018 5:12 am

Well said but you have omitted the political aspect: bulk water provision is a monopoly of national government(ANC) and the Western Cape, coincidentally with the least corruption and highest indices of welfare such as education, health and employment, id led by the opposition DA. The corrupt old tribalist Zuma had little interest in the cultural and scenic beauties of the Cape preferring his cattle kraal and team of wives. His replacement Ramaphosa is very much a modern man and has built himself a mansion high above the Atlantic. I cannot see him letting Cape Town fail but it will be a tight run rush to free the necessary resources.
As regards the drought: averaged over ten years the rainfall has been normal. What happened was two successive droughts caused by el Nino winter2015 and 2016 followed by a persistent high over the interior in winter 2017, deflecting the fronts which came in like clockwork from the west to the south. When there is a livelier jetstream these highs provide brief respites from the rain before being moved on. This one sat there until spring. Do we blame the sun for the third dry winter which brought the water supplies to the point of failure as well as government?

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
March 5, 2018 7:48 am

Political officials all over the world are now blaming global warming on their environmental problems, especially as it relates to water and fire. What SAF and ultimately California are dreaming is that the rest of the world or country will riding in a bail them out. Inappropriate priorities on top of gross mismanagement and corruption are an obvious result of CAGW. Hey it you can blame heart attacks and record snow fall on CAGW you can blame anything.

charles nelson
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 8:31 pm

Ha! The graph starts in 1940!
Tsk…you Warmists and your graphs!

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 8:44 pm

Of course water usage has also increased with population
In 1950 the population of Cape Town was only 618,000
While by 2014 it has risen over 600% to 3,750,000.
Even without droughts, the population increase would have a negative effect on water storage

Year Pop.
1658 360
1731 3,157
1836 20,000
1875 45,000
1891 67,000
1901 171,000
1950 618,000
1955 705,000
1960 803,000
1965 945,000
1970 1,114,000
1975 1,339,000
1980 1,609,000
1985 1,933,000
1990 2,296,000
1996 2,565,018
2001 2,892,243
2007 3,497,097
2011 3,740,025
2014 3,750,000

Reply to  Bryan A
March 3, 2018 9:53 pm

This population growth is the key factor.

Irish energy blog
Reply to  Bryan A
March 3, 2018 11:37 pm

There was only a million African people in the entire continent of Africa by the time the Europeans settlers arrived. South Africa was never capable of supporting a big population.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 10:45 pm

Good start date cherry pick (as usual for an alarmist).

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 3, 2018 10:49 pm

This is a part of natural climate change part — cyclic variations in rainfall and nothing to do with global warming — so far it is not clear whether this exists or not!!! While I was doing my Ph.D. at The National University, Canberra in early 80s, One Singh presented a paleoclimatic study results near Canberra mountains. He showed around 66 year cycle. I showed him at that meet the Durban rainfall 66 year cycle. The current dry period is part of it only. Indian rainfall also present such dry period but this is not so clear as that of Durban as Indian rainfall is modified by several factors. The southeastern Indian rainfall presented 132 year cycle in which dry part started in 2001. Groups with meagre knowledge on meteorology, started presenting results based on truncated part of these cycles and come up with sensational conclusions that attract world and national leaders. This is most unfortunate scenario existing all over the world.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 3:05 am

Good grief Nick you are a real piece of work. I’m not sure how anyone continues to be polite with you, because you certainly do not deserve it. As is typical with you malthusian-ists, you embody the very thing you despise in humanity. Deceit. Your transference and projection knows no bounds. You lie to yourself so you assume the worst in others because, since you deceive yourself and you know it, you assume that is how all humanity operates. What a disgraceful shame. Actually, you should find some shame it may help you. You and all the other Watermelons are exactly what you hate, and I have zero patience for liars. This was the last straw for me after reading your horse hockey on here for about three months.
I’m not going to be polite; you and your lot are the most dangerous type of human because you pretend to take the moral high yet you aim to deceive from the outset. It’s so painfully obvious and infuriating that you really need to seek counsel to fix your atrocious internal conflict. How dare you. I am so disgusted I’ll just end this rant because the profanity that would follow would get me banned

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 3:51 am

“And may well be connected with”…..white people
South Africa votes to seize land from white farmers without compensation

Reply to  Latitude
March 4, 2018 4:15 am

Is it true that South Africa is to be renamed “New Zimbabwe”?

Reply to  Latitude
March 4, 2018 9:43 am

It sounds like South Africa has bigger problems than just a drought.

Reply to  Latitude
March 4, 2018 11:32 am

If you think the drought is bad now, just wait till they kick all the people who actually know how to farm in these conditions off their farms.

Michael Keal
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 3:57 am

Yes Nick, the drought IS caused by ‘climate change’ but has nothing to do with Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
It’s the Sun silly.
During a grand solar minimum, which we are now only seeing the beginnings of, rainfall patterns change, causing droughts in some parts of the world, like the Himalayas, for example, and the Southern regions of South Africa.
If I’m right this is not just a minor perturbation of the weather. It will continue.
And as for the water shortage, methinks it has more to do with politics than mere corruption. The Cape Province is the only region in South Africa not under the political control of the good communists in the African National Congress. That is because the Cape Coloureds, a distinct and very colourful (behaviourally speaking) African tribe tend to vote with the White African tribe.
The ANC’s not very happy about this. So, don’t expect this problem to be dealt with any time soon.
South Africa, once the richest country in Africa, the land of the world’s first successful heart transplant that also produced Elan Musk, could and in earlier times, probably would have solved this problem with ease.
I knew what was coming so I left.
(And now I’m in the UK where we’re battling the communistic EU!) LOL.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 6:15 am

The problem with AGW being the cause is that the A has not been proven to be causing the GW.
The G has been warming since the mid-1800s, long before A was doing anything to cause it, and to state that it wasn’t A from 1850 to 1940, but then A caused it all from then on is just unscientific.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 6:34 am

And the population of Cape Town in the early 1940’s was one-sixth what it is today. Your 200 mm trend line drop is meaningless in context. How many dams and how much other water infrastructure have been constructed in the 70 years since, while population has grown from approximately 600K to over 3.6M?
The problem is Anthropogenic for sure, Anthropogenic Poor Planning or Anthropogenic Bad Government, far easier to prove than Anthropogenic Global Warming. Ref: Occam.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 10:18 am

You never give up on your slavish adherence and subservience to AGW eh Nick. You have got a brain . Use it. How can global warming affect only certain areas of the world that have droughts while others are subject to monsoons? Nick you exasperate me.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
March 4, 2018 4:13 pm

“You have got a brain . Use it.”
AGW doesn’t require brains, it requires emotions.
I was reading somewhere about a teacher in South Korea was talking about AGW to his students and the youngsters in the class were nodding their heads and saying “It feels hotter this year than ever”, and variations on that sort of nonsense. I thought AGW was predicting 1-2C increase over a century period, yet these children have built in high-sensitivity gauges within them that ca detect a .02C increase. Thermostats don’t even trigger unless there is a 1C change in set temperatures because people can’t detect the difference.
Furthermore, these children only have a few years of life experience so even if they had high precision temperature sensing skills, a few years is not a trend in secular claims of geologic time-lines.
So why did these kids all make truth claims about AGW based purely on a personal perception that it is warmer now than a year or two ago? Whatever the answer is, it has absolutely nothing to do with using a brain (in a objective analytical sense) and more virtue signalling, memory implantation, basing and a host of other cognitive manipulation techniques.
Nick very well may be a victim of brain-washing and will seek out and post here any sort of manipulated data-set or claim to avoid having a spiritual crisis over what he deeply believes vs what the evidence reveals.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 11:29 am

While a warmer world would cause an expansion of the Hadley cells, there hasn’t been enough warming to cause noticeable movement yet.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 4, 2018 11:56 am

Dry spells like this have been taking place all over the world for thousands of years. The thirties in North America, Bangladesh in the 70’s. Even the Romans and Egyptians suffered drought. AGW theory even predicts cold. It is indicative of the gullibility of its faithful that even that lunacy doesn’t raise tiny little questions in their tiny little minds.

March 3, 2018 7:01 pm

I am shocked, shocked to learn the ANC is incompetent and corrupt.
Also, that gambling is going on at Ricks.

Reply to  David
March 3, 2018 11:51 pm

But it is the “white“ party, the Democratic Alliance, that “governs“ Cape Town.
Here is a different take on who is to blame:

Reply to  Rob
March 4, 2018 12:04 am

..written by…
Yonela Diko is currently the Spokesperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape.
Oh, right, Couldn’t POSSIBLY be the ANC could it?

Reply to  Rob
March 4, 2018 7:08 am

Exactly, and the DA is being thwarted by the ANC. It’s a manmade (political) water crisis.
The blame game has only just begun. The DA must be defeated at all costs. So long, RSA.

Another Ian
Reply to  David
March 4, 2018 1:10 am
Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Another Ian
March 4, 2018 10:44 am

With that vote by appropriating all the land from white farmers without compensation South Africa has now gone down the road of racist apartheid and communist destruction. South Africa is now finished as a viable country. They will go the way of Zimbabwe and there will be starvation. In this day and age if you dont embrace all races and creeds and if you put up barriers to capitalists or foreigners your society will suffer. The opposition leader in South Africa is a Marxist and he is gaining vastly in political power. Democracy cannot exist without capitalism. South Africa is doomed to a dictatorship.

Reply to  Another Ian
March 5, 2018 9:43 am

What’s the difference between taking someone’s land without compensation, and taking 80% of their income year in and year out?

March 3, 2018 7:06 pm

But is the movement in the Hadley cells due to so-called global warming is it due to the two, and soon to be a third, low sunspot solar cycles? I wonder if the same thing happened in the early 19th Century? Did the rainfall fall off then too?

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Brent Walker
March 4, 2018 12:00 pm

Maybe AGW is so omnipotent it can effect the past!!

Joel O’Bryan
March 3, 2018 7:09 pm

In the 1940, Cape Town had a population of around 300,000. Today the population is around 4,500,000, a 15 fold increase. Does anyone really think that reservoir storage capacity construction kept pace with that population explosion?
Make no mistake, the demand on the reservoirs is the major factor. A 3-year drought is quite unlikely to be a millennial-level event. But even if it is, it should have been planned for becasue millenial level events can occur by definition, and given as big as South Africa is, statistics, says it’s likely in some areas every hundred years or so.
So, the failure was in water storage planning, not The Magic Molecule. The Magic Molecule excuse just becomes the way politicians attempt to evade accountability for their human failures. And now the Leftist media is helping to bail them out with these “the evil carbon-molecule ate your water” excuse.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 4, 2018 12:23 am

On top of what you posted, I read several stories in recent months which stated that the population of Capetown has doubled in around 10 years. That would have much to do with the current problem. Here is a good article discussing current problems faced, …

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 4, 2018 4:41 am

Civilization is a truly tenuous, fragile condition, isn’t it?

March 3, 2018 7:25 pm

South Africa is a disaster waiting to happen. Their recent proclamation that white owned farms (75% of the agriculture land) will be confiscated without payment is a warning sign that famine is on the way. Just like it occurred in neighboring Zimbabwe when they pulled the same stunt. No one is watching the peoples’ future. It’s a giant corrupt money grab and nothing more. They can thank the Marx Brothers for their future.

Reply to  markl
March 4, 2018 2:09 am

Persecution of the white population, but I don’t hear our Western MMS screaming ‘racism’.

Reply to  HotScot
March 4, 2018 6:34 am

Have you not learned that ‘racism’ is another possible-for-whites’ only ‘indulgence’? It is racism if and only if it is by someone who has enough power to cause harm to people of other races.

Reply to  HotScot
March 4, 2018 11:36 am

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been told that blacks can’t be racist.

Reply to  HotScot
March 7, 2018 1:58 pm

I am Chinese by land of birth, Scottish by education, and an immigrant to England.
I was branded a Catholic in a Glasgow Prodestant school (bigotry central) and went home distraught to ask my Mother what a Catholic was.
I am called a Jock and a sweaty sock by work colleagues (affectionately, mostly) and the other day was called a fat lazy *snip* . That hurt, as whilt I am fat, I am demonstrably industrious, and I have a birth certificate with a married mother and father notarized.
I have been persecuted, branded, scorned and marginalised.
But it’s like water off a ducks back.
*snip* em all, I’ll rise above it as I always have.
Framing profanity with * substitution still makes it profanity – MOD

Reply to  markl
March 4, 2018 4:30 am

thank the Marx Brothers for their future.
I dont get the comment? Are you implying SA a joke, or referring to Karl Marx? Im thinking Harpo, chico and Groucho who toured there, but dont know anything else?

Mr Bliss
Reply to  markl
March 4, 2018 7:43 am

The African continent had over 500 years of western history to learn from. They could have avoided all of our mistakes, and using their natural resources, built Africa into a real powerhouse. Instead, they chose to make the same mistakes as us, which has left millions in poverty

Reply to  Mr Bliss
March 7, 2018 6:59 am

South Africa a real powerhouse! I’m sorry to inform you Bliss, but there is no Wakanda like region in South Africa! Its somewhere else in Africa – excuse me, while I cough and clear my throat, while I type and say that to myself.
Then there is reality…. it sucks doesn’t it! Let the South Africans blame Man for the warming, and White Man for farming their uncultivated lands. If the Blacks think they can do better, and turn South Africa into a Wakanda like super power, let them try.
As for the white farmers in South Africa, wasn’t it obvious all those years ago after the end of apartheid, after they started introducing quotas in their sports teams, after South Africa became the highest murder rate in the world (more than Mexico!), after South Africa achieved to have the highest rape rate in the world (higher than Sweden!), after the last President of SA, Zuma, advocated shooting the Boer, after the life expectancy has declined 10 years to 54 years, but on the good thing that now 95% have now a television set (to watch themselves go thirsty no doubt), it was time leave?
How many bad omens do you need to have before you know its time to go? After Zimbabwe, I thought that would have been enough.
Well, there’s always Blank Panther that will save the day, for the Blacks. No!

Reply to  markl
March 4, 2018 8:10 am

There’s less to it than it sounds. Ramaphosa ousted the megacorrupt tribalist Zuma by a hair’s whisker and remains surrounded by those grown fat during his predecessor’s tenure. The threat to him is from the rural left. He is the first ANC president to have not conjured Marxist fantasies in exile or prison but to have participated in the creation of a modern industrial economy in the 70s and 80s as a trade union leader, then drafted the constitution before the returned exiles farmed him out to business rather than allow him to become Mandela’s deputy and successor .

Marcus Lennox
March 3, 2018 7:31 pm

Of course the present SA gov’t’s racist Black Economic Empowerment policy…which necessitates the culling of white engineers from all departments…has exacerbated this period of drought significantly. A topic getting zero coverage in the western MSM.

March 3, 2018 7:33 pm

‘Predicting such “freak” events is tricky for scientists, but one thing is clear: climate change appears to have played a significant role in the Cape’s current misfortune, and it is set to make such events far more likely in the years to come.’
It’s not clear at all. In fact, it’s completely made up.
Note the generality: ‘climate change appears to have played a significant role.’ Okay, what role? What specifically has happened?
‘it is set to make such events far more likely in the years to come.’
The assertion is juvenile. More Scary Climate Science.

Reply to  Gamecock
March 4, 2018 9:52 am

“but one thing is clear: climate change appears”
They go from a certainty to a maybe in the same sentence. This is the current state of Climate Change Alarmism.

Patrick MJD
March 3, 2018 7:43 pm

The population of South Africa has grown significantly in recent years with migrants from countries such as Zimbabwe trying to find a better living with little or no investment in water management. South Africa has an enormous tourist industry to support, a million or more every year. So what does the Govn’t do? Declare the water shortage is, mostly, due to climate change.

David Chappell
Reply to  Patrick MJD
March 4, 2018 6:25 am

With respect, 1 million visitors a year is not an enormous tourist industry. Hong Kong, with a land area about three times that of Capetown, is anticipating 60 milion visitors in 2018. That is an enormous tourist industry.

John Robertson
March 3, 2018 8:18 pm

I am kind of surprised the South African ruling tribe is not blaming the White Farmers and using these consequences of bad planning and governance, to justify their theft .
I for one will be making zero donations to Save The Starving in any area destroyed by their own stupidity.
The rapid self destruction of formerly productive countries is quite the modern performance.
Maybe we should donate the local promoters of such insanity to become advisers in these regions that are testament to their faith.
Socialism really works,they are just not doing it right in Zimbabwe,South Africa , Venezuela …
The Climate Change/C.A.G.W is real. Is happening. And it is not our fault is the dream excuse of vile and incompetent persons.

Reply to  John Robertson
March 3, 2018 10:52 pm

I’m with you, Mr. Robertson. Except for the last sentence, which I could not make sense of. A little confusing as you oscillated between sarcasm and stating your rational reactions. But then, I’ve had three large whiskeys myself, and that may explain my confusion tonight.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  kaliforniakook
March 4, 2018 10:52 am

Every one of his sentences is a sarcastic comment

March 3, 2018 8:32 pm

The primary reason for the current water drought in Cape Town, as touched on by Joelobrien (above) is quite mundane. Bad planning, that’s all. Since 1994 the dam water storage capacity has only been increased by around 16% while the population has increased by almost 90%, largely through immigration by job seekers from the Eastern Cape. The low rainfall cycles seem to repeat every 30 to 40 years. If anyone out there has facts to dispute this analysis I would love to hear them.

Reply to  Mikem
March 3, 2018 11:43 pm

Here are facts that *support* your analysis:

Reply to  Rob
March 4, 2018 6:24 am

Good pull. Wonder what Stokes would have to say about this.

Reply to  Rob
March 4, 2018 11:39 am

As every educated person knows, when your data doesn’t match your model, fix the data.

March 3, 2018 8:48 pm

The rain will come, and then there will be flooding. Just ask California…

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
March 4, 2018 9:59 am

And the flooding will be blamed on CAGW.

March 3, 2018 9:07 pm

Why bother spending money on mitigation when it’s much easier to blame it on AGW, which is always someone else’s fault. Then, hit up the UN for cash, a la Paris Climate Accord

March 3, 2018 9:48 pm

California like Capetown has problems with water allocation and both these places like to ignore the real causes of the problem and instead blame the issues on ‘Global Warming’ as it absolves them of all responsibility.

Reply to  ntesdorf
March 3, 2018 10:59 pm

in California we had a proposition about two years ago to raise a bond for new dams. Except… in the details, less than half of the $7B was for new dam planning, about $2B was for the demolition of existing dams, and the rest to help illegal communities.
No money has been allocated yet for new dam planning. More important things to do… like build a bullet train between two towns most Californians would not be able to identify as being located in the state of California (from a list that includes, Chicago, Olympia, and Yuma).
Pretty sad – and a symptom of the reason I moved. Great weather. That’s it. Governed by fools that are elected by bigger fools.

John F. Hultquist
March 3, 2018 10:03 pm

Soros, Tom Steyer, & Al Gore could provide the money and Musk could set up solar powered desalination plants by mid-June. Problem solved.
Although, I think they need new water mains and much more.
Surely a few more rich folks could help. DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand,. …., Nancy Pelosi.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
March 4, 2018 4:43 am

coal-fired electricity would also be needed for the desal plants, any chance of that being allowed?

March 3, 2018 10:11 pm

Cape Town is located near the ocean.
It can solve it’s water-shortage problem by building a desalination plant to supply water from the oceans.
It can become drought-free this way, plus – solar power could be used to desalinate the water as well.
It’s a win-win proposition – it just needs time to become considered.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  saryansha
March 4, 2018 1:13 am

They have several desalination plants under construction. All of which have suffered massive delays and cost overruns. Corruption on large scales has been alleged.

Reply to  Ben of Houston
March 10, 2018 2:55 am

We can make it happen – we just gotta adpot South Africa!

Reply to  Ben of Houston
March 10, 2018 2:56 am

adpot >> adopt

March 3, 2018 11:50 pm

What is obvious is the current water crisis would have been far more manageable if the South African Government had done more to root out waste, corruption and gross incompetence.

The ANC learnt from Marx and Western Liberals that the proper business of socialist government is to have your heart in the right place, your head in the clouds and your hand in someone else’s pocket.
Corruption, said President Zuma, is a Western concept.
Without bureaucracy to manage state social security, who is going to look after the President’s tribe…er family… if he does not?
Why else would anyone engage in politics?
In short its just like Europe. Attention is focused on race and gender issues, easily ‘solved’ with cheap legislation, to distract from the fact that the government, like all governments is acting like a self legalising protection racket, cash goes to the cronies of the Party (they use the term ‘state capture’ in S Africa) and no one wants to do the hard work of maintaining infrastructure when you can stand on a soapbox and virtue signal your way into a cushy job.
What cape town needs is sewage treatment plants. Cheapest option., Increases the public health too. And maybe less people. Lot of Zimbabweans fled Zimbabwe and ended up there.
It has a lot of rain most winters. But sometimes the westerlies just shift a little further south and miss the peninsula.

March 4, 2018 12:00 am
Is a reasonable read for the view on the ground in Cape Town right now.
Climate change is not being blamed, but ‘erratic weather’ is.
Cape province has similar climate to California, grows similar crops and has similar water shortages.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 4, 2018 12:10 am
Mickey Reno
March 4, 2018 12:03 am

Doesn’t Melbourne Australia have a couple of desalinization plants sitting unused from back in the days when they were never going to see rain again? Maybe they could sell them to S. Africa for a fire-sale price, er, I mean a rainy-day sale price? Or what about the big chuck of ice that broke off from the Larson Ice Shelf – maybe S. Africa could hire Chris Turney to charter a ship to coral that bad boy and tow it to Cape Town for a multi-year floating reservoir? Or do you suppose with his luck, his ship would collide with the iceberg, and sink?

Reply to  Mickey Reno
March 4, 2018 10:07 am

“Doesn’t Melbourne Australia have a couple of desalinization plants sitting unused from back in the days when they were never going to see rain again?”
That same thought crossed my mind. 🙂

Reply to  TA
March 10, 2018 2:07 pm

Plus Brisbane, Sydney,& Perth. Not sure about Adelaide.

Bengt Abelsson
March 4, 2018 12:37 am

25,4 % of the water is lost due to leaks, as reported in the article linked above.
Some plumbing could be in order.
Fewer SUVs, not so much.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Bengt Abelsson
March 4, 2018 1:14 am

25%? That’s actually fairly low for a water system. Underground pipes are notorious for developing leaks.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Ben of Houston
March 5, 2018 7:57 am

And it doesn’t help that the National (ANC) government seems to have the attitude that preventative maintenance is a European concept, and incompatible with the our anti-colonialist policies!

March 4, 2018 12:42 am

What proof is there that the rainfall decline is not just part of cyclical changes and random variation and the shortage is made worse by increased consumption?
A lot of weather patterns have changed since the 1960’s but where records exist for longer it often transpires that prior to that date, they were similar to now.
Here is some detailed analysis of data for the Western Cape, going back as far as 1920:
But I repeat, even this does not demonstrate “climate change” caused be CO2.
The evidence is entirely circumstantial.

March 4, 2018 1:32 am

What is the status of Durban, Joburg? does climate change selectively attack cities? How does that work?
It seems more like that SA is regressing to the sub saharan mean, and infrastructure is a) crumpling and b) not being built in a timely manner

March 4, 2018 2:43 am

Rainfall records in the Capetown urban area exist since 1850 the longest record being at the Royal Observatory (now renamed the SA Astronomical Observatory). However, data since around 2000 are very difficult to get copies of. Recent records at Capetown International Airport have many missing months of data.
A plot of annual (Jan-Dec) rainfalls for Capetown shows a number of severe droughts over the past 168 years. The droughts of 1926-1931 (6 years) and 1971-1973 (3 years) were particularly severe. The severity of the current drought is impossible to estimate without more rainfall data, but the data available suggest that the present drought may be of similar severity to those recorded in the past.

Reply to  Brian Gunter
March 4, 2018 4:26 am

When asked, when are you going to record the temperature, the answer was “tomorrow”
A big reason that Northern people are more industrious is that you can not answer tomorrow to…When will you cut the firewood, plant your crops etc etc because the people who didnt do it froze or starved…Survival of the most industrious…

Reply to  scottmc37
March 4, 2018 7:46 am

When the underpinnings of civilization are not properly maintained it doesn’t take long for nature to reclaim the trappings of prosperity. Destitution and poverty are natural low-energy conditions. Civilization and prosperity are products of energetic endeavors. It may be instinctive, but even critters such as beavers and squirrels seem to understand these truisms.
Then there are the indigenous swamp critters who expect to be cared for and supported by the efforts and endeavors of others.

Reply to  Brian Gunter
March 4, 2018 9:33 am

KNMI probably gets its data from GHCN, which ain’t much use for recent years, despite claims to the contrary. The following analysis was done from data obtained directly from local sources:

March 4, 2018 4:00 am

Thus the prelude to trying to extort more resources from the US.

Reply to  cedarhill
March 5, 2018 7:01 am


March 4, 2018 4:10 am

Graft and corruption throughout Africa is scheduled to cease the day after the sun runs out of gas.

March 4, 2018 4:20 am

Its obviously man made, the population has tripled and without man maintaining it, it leaks like a sift, I saw somewhere over 25% of the water is lost to system leaks.

March 4, 2018 4:22 am

There plan is to reduce the use by getting rid of white farmers, without farming, less water will be needed..

Reply to  scottmc37
March 4, 2018 7:48 am

If they get rid of the farmers then it becomes likely that natural famine and starvation will take care of any over population problem that may exist.

Peta of Newark
March 4, 2018 5:23 am

Taking it as read that the average rainfall across all land area on this world is 770mm. (and 990mm over the ocean?)
A quick scratch around the Wunderground PWSs for that corner of the world says that there has been anything between 300 and 700 millimetres of rain inside the last 12 months.
That’s not a drought.

March 4, 2018 5:32 am

Prof Alexander, a life-long professional Water Engineer, has pretty well deciphered the South African rain and drought cycles;
I doubt anybody in the incompetent, corrupt, smug ANC government could be bothered to look at his work and apply any long term action.
It is easier to do nothing, steal what they can, winge about the previous government and try and score something off the international climate change gravy train.

Reply to  Poly
March 5, 2018 7:59 am

The article cited is interesting but treats the Western Cape as an entity divorced from global effects such as El Nino which expands the Hadley Cell pushing westerlies bringing rain further south and the jetstream’s mobility related to solar activity. 2013 and 2014 were seriously WET!

Coach Springer
March 4, 2018 5:58 am

“climate change appears to have played a significant role in the Cape’s current misfortune” – Unsourced and unsupported. This doesn’t even get to call itself journalism.

Bruce Cobb
March 4, 2018 6:05 am

The Alarmists are doing what they always do: issue conflation. It is deliberate, and is just one of many ways they have of lying. The two issues of drought, which is a lack of rain over an extended period, and water shortage, although certainly related, are in fact separate issues. They are also lying when they claim that droughts (or indeed, floods) “have gotten worse” along with the slight warming, and it is sheer chutzpah on their part to then “predict” that they will “get worse”.

March 4, 2018 6:16 am

It seems that any of these so-called ‘crises’, which are exacerbated by gross ineptitude and/or negligence, can be shrugged off by those responsible merely by throwing up the old ‘global warming’ smokescreen, e.g. in the cases of the SA and Cal droughts, wildfires, etc. The Norwegian seed vault SNAFU was another good example, albeit on a much smaller scale. In each case, the blaggers ought to be held to account.

March 4, 2018 6:50 am

Nick & others
there is no man made warming
however, there is the Gleissberg weather cycle
here is my analysis of a good weather station in South Africa.
Naturally, less rain can be expected this time of the curve….comment image
Cape Town is a good example of how expansion of population (influx) was allowed to continue without proper planning for the future, i.e. pure mismanagement and corruption.
We are busy trying to sack the mayor.

March 4, 2018 8:40 am

It’s all political, as ANC, friendly to Palestinians actively obstructs Israeli attempts to help with desalinization. They’ve been doing it for a couple years. Wx has nothign to do with this, Politics (as usual) has everything. Cheers –

Reply to  agimarc
March 4, 2018 9:24 am

I noticed it was the major who was trying to blame ‘climate change’ for her own mismanagement….
She is from the DA, i.e. opposition [of the ANC]

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  agimarc
March 4, 2018 8:27 pm

Noted in the Wall Street Journal this past week:
“Cape Town May Dry Up Because of an Aversion to Israel: The Palestinian Authority accepts the Jewish state’s help on water projects. South Africa refuses it.” by Seth M. Siegel on Feb. 21, 2018
“Cape Town, South Africa, has designated July 9 “Day Zero.” That’s when water taps throughout the city are expected to go dry, marking the culmination of a three-year drought. South African officials aren’t responsible for the lack of rain, but inept management and a devotion to anti-Israel ideology needlessly made the situation worse.
“[In Israel] Conservation is taught from kindergarten. Market pricing of water encourages everyone to waste nothing. Sensitive prices have driven innovation. Israelis helped create desalination, drip irrigation and the specialized reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture. Although Israel is in the fifth year of a drought, today its citizens can reliably count on abundant water.
“Cape Town is another story. Its reservoirs began receding more than two years ago. This problem turned into a crisis because of subsidy-distorted water pricing, inefficient irrigation, and a lack of desalination facilities and a long-term plan. In 2016 officials from Israel’s Foreign Ministry recognized the problem and alerted national, provincial and local governments in South Africa. Israel has trained water technicians in more than 100 countries, and it offered to bring in desalination experts to help South Africa.
“South African officials ignored or rebuffed the no-strings Israeli proposal. It would be admirable if South Africa’s rejection came from a can-do attitude, in a statement of national self-sufficiency. But it appears to have been for ideological reasons that South African officials wanted no help from Jerusalem.”

Paul Marchand
March 4, 2018 5:50 pm

So…..THE LEFT and THE LYING BASSARD MEDIA will say GLOBAL WARMING?………the actual cause is apparently that the LEFT chased the white engineer class out of South African management, and inserted unqualified blacks?

Charlie Bates
March 4, 2018 6:18 pm

I do believe I read recently that some 30 to 50% of the water is lost along the route from source to customer. Also known as leaky pipes not maintained by a corrupt governmental.

March 5, 2018 7:00 am

It’s the New Orleans Levee Board Syndrome.

March 5, 2018 2:38 pm

I have updated my note of a couple of days ago on long-term trends in Capetown rainfall. I have now included some data since 2000 (that I didn’t have before) so now have a fairly complete temperature record since 1850.
The current (2015-2017) drought can now be compared with other historical droughts. It is clear that the 2015-2017 drought is very very similar to those of 1927-1931 and 1971-1973. Each of these were about 40 years apart! Also the current drought is still ongoing so maybe it will turn out to be another “1927-1931” event!
I tried to add a couple of in-line graphs but cannot figure out how to do it! But they in the above link. How is it done?

Reply to  Brian Gunter
March 5, 2018 2:42 pm

To add in line graphs simply post the URL of the graph file with a. JPG or PNG or. GIF extension on the end. WordPress will automatically insert the file for you in your comment

Reply to  Anthony Watts
March 5, 2018 11:44 pm
March 6, 2018 6:22 am

Very good work.
I have the Potchefstroom data for you if you are interested?
Note the irregular pattern of the original data, and, indeed, the few times when there is less rain in a number of consecutive years.
By my various calculations the Gleissberg cycle is currently 86.5 years.
That means, comparatively, we are now in 1931.
Obviously, this is looking at the sun. What happens on earth does follow the sun but there may be some delay either way. Looking at my data from Potch I think we can expect a few more years of drought in CT

Reply to  henryp
March 6, 2018 12:45 pm

Henry. Thanks for your comments. Yes, I would like to get a copy of the Potcefstroom monthly rainfalls, particularly those since 1999. My email address is at the top of my graphs. I have checked the KNMI Climate Explorer website and they have monthly rainfall data for Potchefstroom for 1903-1999.

Reply to  Brian Gunter
March 6, 2018 1:00 pm

Brian. I am on a roadtrip now and I am not sure if and when I get excess to the relevant excel file. I will definitely send it on to you. Just dont know when.

March 14, 2018 2:28 am

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