Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Climate Change Modeling in South Africa ...


Last week I attended the launch, at UCT, of a most interesting South African Climate Change project.

Now your own PC can be used, while you are not using it, to assist in climate data processing to improve the reliability of climate change modeling for South Africa.

See the "AfricanClimate@Home" link at www.worldcommunitygrid.org

Please read on.

Capetown, South Africa, September 3, 2007 . . . IBM and the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town (Bruce Hewitson) launched a global computing effort to improve regional climate models in order to make better projections about what effects a changing climate will have in Africa.

Climate change is of grave concern in all areas, but in developing regions such as Africa, the impact will be more acute because of the lack of access to healthcare and other social services. Widespread floods, for example, can lead to water borne illness and related diseases such as dengue fever or malaria, which are spread by infected mosquitoes that thrive in water. Droughts can have devastating effects as well by bringing on pervasive food shortages.

By making better predictions about how global climate change might realistically affect regions of Africa, resource managers can start to make decisions that might alleviate the adverse effects. For example, they could begin planning an irrigation infrastructure or promoting appropriate drought resistant crops. The project, “AfricanClimate@Home,” will use the vast computational power of World Community Grid, a virtual supercomputer comprised of hundreds of thousands of individuals who donate their unused computer time, making it as powerful as one of the world’s top five supercomputers. Researchers will use the computational power of World Community Grid to improve the models used to predict the climate by conducting simulations in small regions of Africa and then checking them against real observations.

While large-scale global climate models provide people with a general idea of what the climate may be like over a wide area, they do not necessarily reflect what will happen in a particular region because the global models do not sufficiently take into account large lakes, mountains, or plains that can affect the local climate.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Tadross, says, “Making predictions about the climate requires an enormous amount of computational power because of all of the variables, such as temperature, wind, pressure, and humidity. In order to improve the models, we need to come up with better algorithms that will more closely match what is observed in a local area. By using World Community Grid, we have the computational power necessary to run the tests we need to improve our models.”

Once researchers have access to models that more accurately predict regional weather patterns, they can then begin to run forecasts about how global climate changes may affect the region. People can then use the data to make management decisions related to agriculture and water resources. This is important in an area of the world that is still developing and often does not have adequate infrastructure. Forewarning any potentially dramatic changes in climate, especially those related to extreme events such as droughts and floods, can enable vulnerable communities and disaster management teams to act in advance of the climatic hazard.

“We can all have a profound effect on this research by simply by donating our unused computer cycle time,” said Stanley Litow, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation. “If you own a computer and can access the Internet, then you can be a part of the solution".

To donate your unused computer time to this project, you can register on www.worldcommunitygrid.org and install a free, small software program on to your computer/s. When computers are idle, for example people are at lunch, their computers request data from World Community Grid’s server. These computers then perform climate modeling computations using this data, and send the results back to the server, prompting it for a new piece of work. A screen saver will tell individuals when their computers are being used.

World Community Grid, the largest public humanitarian grid in existence, has an impressive 315,000-plus members and links more than 700,000 computers. However, it’s estimated that there will be one billion computers worldwide by 2008, underscoring the potential for the grid and its computational power to significantly expand and make an even greater impact on a range of humanitarian issues.

Seven projects have been run on World Community Grid to date, including "FightAIDS@Home", which completed five years of HIV/AIDS research in just six months. Additional projects are in the pipeline.

Clint Roswell
mailto: roswellc@us.ibm.com

Let's support CSAG and have as many South Africans as possible signing up to the World Community Grid "ClimateChange@Home" project and see if we can lead the world in regional climate modeling.

Dennis Laidler

Thursday, June 7, 2007

RECC Presentations

This post gives access to the presentations delivered at the Western Cape Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit

Click on the links below to download the presentations and documents from the Western Cape Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit held at the CTICC, Cape Town 7-8 June 2007

A couple of the links have been removed pending updating of the presentations.

Correlate these presentations with the Summit Programme

DAY 1 - 7 JUNE 2007 - Renewable Energy

Mark Borchers ppt 4.35MB
Ronald Chauke ppt 304KB
Adam Gordon ppt 192KB
Mark Gordon ppt 7.7MB
Daniel Modise ppt 385KB
Raudiyah Sahabodien pps 8.9MB
Brian Sechotlho ppt 2045KB
Nicola Steen ppt 14.11MB
M Visage ppt 771KB
SANERI presentation to RE and CC Summit in CT 070607 ppt 579KB
NERSA Licensing Rules RE Summit 20070607 ppt 175KB
NERSA Regulatory Support RE Summit 20070606 ppt 182KB

Today the National Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, delivered his budget speech

Professor Wikus van Niekerk of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies of the University of Stellenbosch drew delegates attention to a regular discussion forum hosted by the Centre relating to Renewable and Sustainable Energy issues.

Here is the Draft Sustainable Energy Strategy pdf 16.6MB (Note: this is a full colour pdf of the printed document)

Queen Protea, Protea magnifica,
on the slopes of Milner Ridge Peak,
Hex River Mountains

At the end of the day MEC Essop's office issued the following press statement:

MEC Essop commits to bold actions to accelerate Renewable Energy initiatives in the Western Cape

Yesterday in Cape Town delivering the first day closure of the Provincial Government’s Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit, MEC Tasneem Essop acknowledged the contributions, gaps, opportunities and challenges raised by all the stakeholders present.

This summit was held to create an enabling environment to promote dialogue between stakeholders and government in order to activate the renewable energy sector within the Western Cape.

The MEC summarized the day’s proceedings and committed to a range of immediate actions.

Essop offered that her Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning would facilitate a process to understand barriers and constraints to implementing Renewable Energy projects.

The Department will develop a document readily available to provide information to prospective RE developers to explain the regulatory processes involved in implementing Renewable Energy projects. The pamphlet will also include information about incentives and provide specific contact details.

Essop also recognized the urgent need to build smart capacity in government departments, municipalities and other relevant organs of state to efficiently manage Renewable Energy project implementation.

Furthermore, she committed to facilitate the roll-out of the short-term actions identified in the recently finalized Western Cape Sustainable Energy Strategy and establish a Renewable Energy networking forum to regularly debate Renewable Energy issues between all stakeholders including government.

Cognizant of urgent climate change adaptation and mitigation imperatives, Essop announced that she will take the initiative to develop a Renewable Energy Act for the Western Cape in consultation with her national and provincial counterparts.

In conclusion Essop offered to investigate and promote the creation of funding opportunities for small and medium Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects, and facilitate skills development programmes within the Renewable Energy sector (such as installation and maintenance of solar water geysers), where there is currently a shortage of such skills.


Contact Person:
Suraya Hamdulay
083 555 4150

DAY 2 - 8 JUNE 2007 - Climate Change

There is an earlier post on this blog where you can download draft copies of the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan and Supplimentary Reports

Belynda Petrie ppt 4.7MB - Presentation on the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan


Friday, June 1, 2007

Western Cape Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit

On behalf of my Ministry of Environment, Planning and Economic Development, I would like to extend an invitation to you to participate in the Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit on 7 and 8 June 2007 in Cape Town during World Environment Week hosted by my Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

The Provincial Government of the Western Cape has set a target of 15% of energy production from renewable sources by 2014. The first day of the summit is mainly a business and renewable energy investment forum and exhibition to stimulate the implementation of renewable energy projects in the province.

The second day of the summit focuses primarily on the Draft Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan. A wide range of national and provincial stakeholders are invited to participate. There will be an address by the honourable Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Premier of the Western Cape on this vital issue. The climate change segment of the summit addresses the impacts of climate change on the poor and most vulnerable sectors of society.

Your participation in this summit would be most appreciated as we value your input in ensuring that the Western Cape continues along its path of sustainable development.

Register for the Summit online
(Note: the number of delegates is limited so to avoid disappointment please register and do not just pitch up on the day)

Draft Western Cape Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and Supplimentary Reports

The Draft Western Cape Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and Supplimentary Reports are now available online on the Western Cape Climate Change Project Website. N.B. THIS WEB SITE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

HOWEVER THE FINAL Western Cape Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and Supplimentary Reports ARE NOW AVAILABLE.

There will be ongoing opportunities to engage with the department in finalising the report after the Western Cape Renewable Energy and Climate Change Summit to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 7 and 8 June 2007 - for further information consult this blog regularly. Click on the link to the Sumit above to register online.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Draft guideline on biodiversity offsets - comments requested

In December 2005 the Department of Environment Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) commissioned the preparation of a provincial guideline on biodiversity offsets. A draft guideline was produced in June 2006 ( www.capegateway.gov.za/eng/pubs/guides/P/133948/2 ) but, due to a number of issues, was not finalized.

In January 2007, the Department appointed Susie Brownlie (deVilliers Brownlie Associates), together with Mark Botha (Botanical Society of South Africa), Nick Helme (Nick Helme Botanical Surveys) and Hugo van Zyl (Independent Economic Researchers), to strengthen and finalize the draft guideline.

Drawing on a focused biodiversity offsets workshop, and input from a number of stakeholders, the draft guideline has been revised. This revised draft will be available for comment by interested and affected parties on DEA&DP's website [(www.capegateway.gov.za/eadp) from Friday 9 March - please go to 'publications' and then 'guidelines', and look for the 'biodiversity offsets' guideline].

Should you have any comments on the revised draft guideline, please send them to Susie Brownlie (email: dbass@icon.co.za) by the very latest 20 March 2007.

Please contact Susie Brownlie [021-6744 253] should you have any queries.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Website for the Provincial Climate Change Response Strategy

The department has commissioned a project to develop a Provincial Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan.

A project website has been developed that contains a host of information about the project including the presentations delivered at the stakeholder engagement workshops and summaries of stakeholder feedback. THIS WEBSITE IS NO LONGER FUNCTIONAL!

HOWEVER THE FINAL Western Cape Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and Supplimentary Reports ARE NOW AVAILABLE.

The website is constantly being improved.

It is intended that a section is developed to provide lots of useful Western Cape oriented climate change facts as well as a section that will provide information on what individuals can do to mitigate climate change as well as adapt to the impacts that are already being felt in the province.

Keep an eye on this blog or the project website for further developments.

Friday, February 16, 2007

SA loosing 600bn litres of water each year

Co-incidental with Premier Rasool's announcement in his State of the Province speech today, of a major provincial water leak repair initiative as part of the Provincial Climate Change Response Programme it is staggering to see the magnitude of the water loss problem reported today on News24.

Cape Town - More than 600 billion litres of piped water supplied for domestic use is "lost" each year as a result of leaks, inaccurate meters, failing to bill consumers and theft, Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said on Thursday ... See the link above for all the details

Invitation to Present Proposals for Renewable Energy Projects in the Western Cape

The Department will assess and select projects that qualify for support from Provincial Government Western Cape. Project proposals are invited that will contribute to the achievement of the Province's proposed clean energy target [15% by 2015]. The closing date for proposals is 2 March 2007.

The detailed invitation document is available here.

Further details are available from:
Mark Gordon
Director: Strategic Environmental Management
Tel: +27 21 483 3966

Draft Integrated Energy Strategy for Western Cape

The Draft Integrated Energy Strategy for Western Cape has been published for comment by stakeholders.

The Draft Strategy and Comment Form are available here.

Premier's Speech

Today our Provincial Premier Ebrahim Rasool open the new session of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

A link to his opening speech will be posted here as soon as it is available on either the CapeGateway or the Provincial Legislature sites

The text of the Premier's State of the Province Speech

Below is an extract of the portion of the speech in which Premier Rasool addresses the impacts of climate change on the Western Cape Province and what action his government will be taking in the forthcoming year.

Further information on the Provincial Climate Change Programme is available on the climate change project website

I. Climate Change

The status quo report on climate change in the Western Cape that was commissioned by this government, reaches the following chilling conclusion:

The Western Cape faces the real possibility of socio-economic impoverishment as a result of climate change over and above the negative impact on poverty alleviation programmes.

If poverty will be exacerbated by global warming, then our task in the Western Cape is indeed becoming harder. Scientific evidence shows that the warming impact of climate change on the Western Cape is double the global average. Agriculture Minister Cobus Dowry warns that because our fruit trees require cold temperatures in winter, any further warming would potentially destroy this part of our agriculture economy.

We have invited here today, to participate in the opening of the legislature, representatives of those who are in the front line of the battle against the impact of global warming, battling the extremes of fires, floods, drought, desertification, risking their lives diving into floods waters or cleaning the high tension wires that carry electricity to us, or fight the fires on the ground or from helicopters.

We owe it to them and their families that all of us adapt our behaviours to climate change through coordinated action and lifestyle changes, while bigger decision-makers are persuaded not to continue on the path that has brought climate change to us.

In remaining faithful to our undertaking to be practical, government will act in the following priority areas:

• In a province that will experience even less rainfall and therefore greater water shortages, we will, towards 2014 intensify our search for alternative water sources such as aquafers, the recycling of waste water and the desalination of sea water. But, because 10% of our water is lost through leakages in pipes and taps, we will in 2007 launch a pilot programme in the West Coast District, where young people doing their National Youth Service in fixing leakages and saving water.

• To ensure food security and the protection of our agriculture, we are heartened that 50% of farmers have already shifted from the wasteful overhead irrigation method to the drip system. By 2010 our Agriculture Department will ensure that 70% of farmers have adopted water saving techniques towards a 100% target by 2014.

• With fires wreaking havoc and destroying both homes and vegetation, the urgency to eradicate alien vegetation has grown, necessitating the need to use the law against private property owners to remove alien vegetation. We will retain the 900, mostly women workers whose job it will be to remove alien vegetation, and towards 2010, Minister Essop will increase the number from 900.

• The cost of flooding in the Eden District due to climate change was R600 million. Some of these costs are avoidable and the Spatial Development Planning frameworks must now enforce respect for estuaries, river catchments and coastlines and the new flood lines that are being mapped. These will determine development and building permission, whether for luxury or informal purposes.

• The Western Cape has also borne the brunt of power outages, as our growing population and economy demand more electricity and our generation and distribution capacity has been found wanting. We salute the Cape Town Partnership and the Cape Chamber of Commerce for promoting retrofitting of the Central Business District with energy efficient technologies, following government's lead. Such demand-side measures must be complemented by new sources of energy. In the short-term our collaboration with Eskom will result in two Gas Powered stations coming on stream with a total of 1000 mega-watts of electricity in Mosselbay and Atlantis from the middle of this year already. Given our vulnerability to the energy crisis and power outages, we have very little choice but to welcome the announcement of a second nuclear power station in the Western Cape to stabilise our supply. However, we are now more determined to ensure that renewable sources of energy are implemented, and by 2014, 15% of our energy should be supplied through wind, solar, wave and natural gas sources.

Out of interest the Provincial Parliament adopted a new logo today

All members received a gold medalion with the logo embossed on it at the opening function this morning

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rules of the DEADP blog

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Messages may be removed if they:

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Welcome to our "Sustainable Home 4 All"

Welcome to the Western Cape Province Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Blog

We call our province the "Sustainable Home 4 All"

"Home 4 All" because we are actively engaged in making it a province where all residents can live active and fulfilled lives persuing their individual dreams and goals.

"Sustainable" because we aim to manage the wonderful environmental, cultural and economic assets of the province in a such way that does not detract from future generations being able to do the same.

If you are interested in the environment near the southern tip of Africa and would like to keep up with the latest news from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning please visit our blog regularly.