Thursday, February 27, 2014

TNB finds the source of the City of Cape Town's Logo Inspiration

The new city of Cape Town logo that was approved yesterday despite fierce public opposition appears to have had a precedent in the form of a simple stationary company.
Waltons supplies Summit stationary, the box of which was sitting upon my desk. I wonder if the marketing company behind the new City of Cape Town logo had a box of seedbags sitting on their desk?
The logos of the City of Cape Town with a stationary logo on the right overlaid.
Prices below reflect the estimated concept and design cost.
I took the liberty of overlaying the Summit logo over the City logo and found a remarkable fit. 97.3% fit to be exact. By scientific terms the probability of that happening by chance is almost inconceivable! I'm totally kidding of course. But here are some thoughts on the issue.

I don't think I'm mincing my words when I say the logo conjures up images of looking down a  meat-grinder.

The logo resembles cogs. Is Table Mountain just another cog in the works? A money making machine for the city? The former logo was flowing - more natural. This is hard, angled and engineered. Is there no room left in the new city dispensation for nature any more, or is nature going to only be allowed to survive if its planned and engineered soon?

Recalls to mind a scene I passed on the highway into town. The city cutting back the unruly sour figs that were spilling over the side of the wall and daring to encroach on the sharp lines of the brickwork. Actually it reminds me of the last vestiges of my guerilla gardening of some 20 rare species that were finally brushcut to non-existance two weeks ago next to the highway.

The steam-rolling out of the new logo at least is in keeping with their new motto - "Making progress possible. Together". It seems though that they forgot to ask a crucial question: is the progress is desirable, and at what cost - financial and otherwise?

So what does The Naked Bloganist think about the new logo? It doesn't matter what I think, because the logo was approved yesterday, the roll-out of the new logo will happen, and all the sheeple will be part of the governmental meat grinder, proudly sporting their new logo on uniforms, stationary, websites, banners, billboards... at a currently estimated cost of R7 million.

Twitter: @TNBloganist

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Bridge Fuel" - Careless Talk Costs Actual Lives

When the current set of coal-fired power plant updates are completed in 2017, it is estimated that South Africa will derive 94% of its energy from coal (, and wrest the position from Australia as 7th highest producer of CO2 from power-generation in the world. Our award winning line-up includes a suite of mammoth coal-fired plants ranging from 4100-4800MW, including two of the 4th biggest coal-fired power plants in the world. Each of these plants produces more energy and pollution, and consumes more coal than America's largest power plant, the 3520MW Scherer Power Plant. This power plant is currently under investigation for for coal ash pond leeching, drinking water contamination, and air pollution (

A study in the USA by the Clean Air Task Force estimated that pollution from coal-fired power plants accounts for more than 13,000 premature deaths, 20,000 heart attacks, and 1.6 million lost workdays. The cost of this: an estimated $100 billion annually. This is about 1/4 of the annual GDP of South Africa. So unlike the air around these power plants, it is clear that the power-generating parastatal Eskom and our governmental representatives haven't exactly had our best interests - or at least our health at heart. But now they're looking to the future, in terms of air at least, a cleaner, fracked future. But is it cleaner, or is Susan Shabangu and Zuma doing the people and economy of South Africa another grave disservice by decisively pursuing fracking?

The jury is out. We should no longer condone the use of the term "bridge fuel" when cited in conjunction with fracking. Far from a "sturdy bridge to a cleaner energy future" as stated by the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal (, building an economy based on methane, together with its fracking bedfellow, appears to be an uncontrolled spin away from a healthy environment.

Romm has presented an excellent review of the amount of methane released during fracking, and the impact of that methane on global warming. The article is nothing short of breathtaking. By using fracking to extract methane as a "bridge fuel", the number of years before net climate benefits are achieved rapidly increases above 3% leaking rate. At a leakage rate of 5.4%, it would take 50 years for a full-replacement of coal plants with natural gas plants to show any climate benefits. At the same leakage rate, converting a fleet of either cars or trucks to Natural Gas would be worse for the climate for 140 years. However, given that the natural gas leakage rates from three separate NOAA studies were 4%6-12%, and 17%, its time to get VERY WORRIED about the promotion of natural gas as a "bridge fuel".

Figure: Maximum life-cycle natural gas leak rate as a function of the number of years needed to achieve net climate benefits after switching from coal power to natural gas. The three curves represent: single emissions pulses (dotted lines); the service life of a power plant, 50 years (dashed lines); and a permanent fleet conversion (solid lines). Image and caption from Romm, 2014.
The US is frequently touted as having slashed nearly 80 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2012 by replacing 160 million MWh of coal electricity with natural gas. That is significant, and could even warrant justification South Africa's own fracking pursuits... Were it not for these two offsets—methane leakage, and the replacement of hydro and nuclear by gas. These two offsets together wipe out the entire CO2 reduction from coal-to-gas fuel switching; methane leakage accounts for more than two thirds of that offset (
Romm's message about fracking as a "bridge fuel" is clear: "natural gas doesn’t just displace coal, it also displaces nuclear power, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. So it appears quite safe to say that natural gas simply has no net climate benefit whatsoever in any timescale that matters to humanity."

So, be careful when you use the B-F word. Careless talk costs lives!
Twitter: @TNBloganist

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Zuma's State of the Nation Rent-A-Crowd - An Environmentalists Critique

There was something mildly disturbing watching Zuma's speech. It was difficult to pin point exactly what it was. As his speech came to an end, and the entire crowd spontaneously and instantaneously gave him a standing ovation, it struck me like a cold shower after unprotected sex. Unless the show is outstanding, a standing ovation doesn't usually spontaneously erupt, it spreads with uncertainty. More like the sitting DA representatives who were shown to be looking around them as if to say what the hell are people standing for??? A crowd of overpaid fat cats doesn't just simultaneously and instantaneously rise en masse. For that matter, neither do they clap at 97% of all statements, adding enthusiastic assent to everything that is said. Clapping is hard work and painful. One metes out one's energy when appropriate, not at every haltingly stated sentence and phrase. No, Zuma's speech had the hallmark of a well-primed audience that was either paid to clap, had heavily vested interest in affairs of state, or threatened with something terrible if they didn't.

Zuma's speech was an unsurprising copy-paste of the ANC manifesto. So, what were the most scary statements about his speech? It seems that Zuma and his cronies are gearing up to rape once again. This time to rape the country of its mineral resources, and desecrate its natural resources in the process. This is a cynics take on statements made during the speech to support this argument.

On Priming the Country for Rampant Environmental Degredation

"Arising out of that process, we have now streamlined regulatory and licensing approvals for environmental impact assessments, water licenses and mining licenses. Parliament is finalizing amendments to the law to give effect to this very positive development, which will cut to under 300 days, the time it takes to start a mine, from application to final approvals. The Deputy President of the Republic continues to facilitate discussions between government, mining companies and labour."
i.e. We're going to ensure that EIA's cause no impediment for development, and are granted water and mining licences without due diligence having been done. We're paving the way for a mass takeover of vast areas of land by corporations.

"And more importantly, industrial relations processes are taking place in a manner consistent with the law. "
i.e. we're changing the law so that it is no longer illegal for industry to pollute, take land from people, and be unaccountable for health problems.

Local mining company near Tzaneen found guilty of environmental damage

"Having evaluated the risks and opportunities, the final regulations will be released soon and will be followed by the processing and granting of licenses."
i.e. Having weighed up the economic risks, with opportunities to make money - we will be uncritically granting licenses to oil industries. Has due diligence been done to the environmental and social risks. They cannot have been done, otherwise the government would not be proceeding with fracking with such zeal.

"Close to 1500 kilometres of new roads or lanes have been built."
Out of 362 000 km of South African roads, this is less than 0.5%. i.e. We've prioritised roads to allow access to mineral resources and coastal developments where previously they were undeveloped or developing slowly. Zuma - if you want to create jobs in the green sector that are sustainable AND positive, how about managing our extensive roadsides for biodiversity?

"We have to work more intensively to develop emerging or black industrialists."
i.e. We will be ensuring that key individuals gain financially from industrial operations like fracking, nuclear power stations, dam building, and manufacturing in general.

On Fracking

"We continue to explore other sources of energy, in line with the Integrated Resource Plan for Energy. The development of petroleum, especially shale gas will be a game-changer for the Karoo region and the South African economy. "
Game-change? Game-killer more like it given that the Karoo is a major source of our meat production. Its not Zuma's call to make whether it will be a game-changer. Its too dependent on gas prices and other uncertainties. What is absolutely certain is that it will have a huge and negative impact on the lifestyles of nearly every South African who passes through a fracked area.

With the uglification of vast areas, the release of trillions of litres of volatile toxins and greenhouse gases, the depletion and contamination of unfathomable amounts of water, displacement of people from homes and massively reduced property prices, the increase in meat prices, the loss of tourism to key areas in the karoo, and the increase in STD's to rural areas - few South Africans will remain untouched by Zuma's grand game-changer.

On Power Stations and Nuclear Power

"Construction is continuing at the new power stations, Medupi in Limpopo, Kusile in Mpumalanga and Ingula near Ladysmith, employing more than 30 000 workers. "
This is an example of unwelcome, misdirected development for the sake of jobs and handouts and payouts, at the expense of the rate-payer, the environment and our health.

"We expect to conclude the procurement of nine thousand six hundred megawatts of nuclear energy."
Zuma recently appointed himself as chair of the National Nuclear Energy Co-ordination Committee. And that "The National Planning Commission commissioned a study by the University of Cape Town's Energy Research Centre that recently found investment in nuclear power was unnecessary for 15 to 25 years and was not cost-effective" (

Alternative energy would provide jobs, provide increasingly cheaper and long-term energy, and once installed, provide free energy, not require ongoing input of costly coal or gas, not radically drive up the cost of electricity like the construction of Eskom's new power plants. In the light of these statements and in the face of the ongoing threat from Fukushima and cleanup costs that would cripple this country, it seems rash and foolish to be making bold statements about nuclear energy.

On GMO foods and pesticides
However, Zuma does point out the following:
"The first 88 smallholder farmers in this programme supplied the United Nations World Food Programme with 268 tons of maize and beans to send to Lesotho last month. We expect this number to increase."
Almost all our maize is currently GM. The growing body of evidence of impacts of pesticides and the consumption of GMOs on human health are alarmingly increasing.

On Corruption

"South Africans are united in wanting a corruption free society. Fighting corruption within the public service is yielding results. Since the launch of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline by the Public Service Commission, over 13 000 cases of corruption and maladministration have been referred to government departments for further handling and investigation."

Yes, but how many of these cases have resulted in satisfactory impeachment?
"1 542 officials were dismissed from the Public Service.
140 officials were fined their three month salary.
20 officials were demoted
355 officials were given final written warnings.
204 officials were prosecuted. "
This amounts to 2261 officials who have been removed from office or given a slap on the wrist for corruption. In many countries, fraud is a crime for which people are imprisoned. What is a fine of a three month salary, demotion, and written warning relative to the amount gained by fraud?

In spite of the enthusiastic canned clapping, an audible heckling was heard when when Zuma ironically spoke out about corruption. In light of the massive impacts on peoples lives and health that fracking would incur, combined with the ongoing critical lack of adequate health care, it seems that Zuma's penultimate statement: "South Africa is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994", might be true - but not for much longer if South Africa's fracking and nuclear potential is allowed to proceed in the wild-west style that Zuma and his band of officials are racing towards.

Twitter: @TNBloganist

Thanks to Zapiro for the cartoons.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

View of Fracking in Cape Town

Citing American successes in the energy industry while downplaying their overt ecological steel-capped bootprint on the planet, South African politicians seem to be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of fracking taking place across VAST areas of South Africa. However, is the American model appropriate for South Africa? For your understanding, I have teleported fracking pads, and placed them to scale in the middle of Cape Town. Please, read on.

Last week, the minister of mineral affairs, Susan Shabangu, anounced her decision to "move ahead decisively, but responsibly with the exploration of shale gas" ( Fracking and drilling is now the 2nd biggest contributor to global warming in the US ( Fracking is not a "bridge fuel" but a bog-standard hydrocarbon gas mixture. With the venting and combustion of an estimated 400tcf (thats 450 TRILLION cubic foot) of gas reserves, this is nothing but irresponsible emmissions in the face of global warming.

There are countless reasons why fracking should not go ahead, which I have present below under two headings: confirmed/substantiated; and potential links.
Confirmed / Substantiated claims and direct links to fracking.

  • Fracking and drilling causes earthquakes (,
  • Fracking is linked to contamination of water supplies (, With this interactive map of fraccidents created by
  • Initial frac drilling is linked to release of endocrine disruptors (
  • Fracking releases more greenhouse gases than coal powered plants (
  • Fracking and drilling is the number two contributor to global warming in the US (
  • Fracking has caused a giant sinkhole (
  • Fracking fluids contain highly toxic chemicals that are linked to cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders and birth defects (
  • Toxic fracking gases cause air pollution (
  • This report shows that regions where fracking takes place is linked to:
    • more social disorder arrests 
    • more cases of sexually transmitted infections
    • increased heavy vehicle traffic and heavy vehicle accidents that
      • have significant economic impacts
      • cause traffic and impact on lifestyles
      • increase response time of emergency vehicles
      • cause damage to roads and infrastructure with associated economic costs

Potential Links

  • Tourettes-like symptoms of 12 scholars possibly linked to fracking rigs in school yard (

But what I as a botanist and conservationist am primarily worried about, it is the desecration of vast areas of landscape through the installation an extensive network of roads, pipelines, fracking pads, and wastewater dams. In the words of an anonymous poster flying over Boulder: "The mountains over Colorado looked like a circuit board with veins interconnecting to blocks "pads". They are butchering the foot hills to the Rockies". This is not the USA with low post-glacial biodiversity. This is not Dakota with over 8000 fracking wells since six years ago, where over 1000 REPORTED accidental spills have taken place in 2011 alone! This is South Africa, land of biodiversity, home to the smallest floristic kingdom in the world, the Cape Floristic Kingdom, home to over 9000 species of which 70% occur nowhere else on earth. Compromising South Africa's biodiversity and lifestyle for something that Shabangu says "could be a game changer to South Africa's energy market" makes no sense.
Permain Basin oilfield, from Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry. CLUI photo, Center for Land Use Interpretation

Juan Velasco produced this map of Dakota, in which he superimposed every well and its pipeline onto a map. As scary as that map is, as a South African, it is difficult understand and relate to the density of drilling pads. I therefore took the layout of the fracking pads, and superimposed them onto the SW Cape.

Position of well pads and wells from North Dakota superimposed onto the Cape

As you can see, the region from Cape Town to Montagu is barely recognisable. And this is just a small chunk of the extent of the total fracking within Dakota.

But fracking doesn't just affect the rural environment. It has knock on effects to cities too, with an impact on farming, and endocrine disruptors finding their way into livestock, the city food supply will be affect too. I therefore moved the grid so that a portion of it (still to scale) lay over Cape Town, and plotted each pixel within the area.

Pink dots represent Dakotan fracking pads superimposed on Cape Town

Finally, I took a view from Rhodes Memorial, found pictures of fracking pads using google images, and tried to position each well over its position, scaling it to approximately match its visual size at the distance from the photographer. The result gives a fair estimate of what you would see looking across a fracked Cape Flats. Three fracking pads would comfortably fit into Rondebosch Common in the middle of the photograph. Note that this shows only about 90 of the 250 rigs that would be in the line of site on a clear day with flat topography till the Hottentot Holland mountains, some 50km distant.

What if fracking in Dakota was done in Cape Town?

And in case you can't see them well-enough, at light they light up like a christmas tree.
Fracking flares
A fracking rig at night


Hypothetical fracking in the Cape Flats at pseudonightime

In the face of increasing evidence about the health implications of fracking, social cost of a fracking boom, and the economic cost of increased truck traffic, it seems like the government and Susan Shabangu are overly zealous in their pursuit of cheap energy. Cheaper energy and the promise of some jobs (mainly foreign) just doesn't cut it as a good enough reason to destroy the fresh air and sanctity of the Karoo and other areas of South Africa.

Alternative energy is already cheaper than coal and nuclear power in Germany, where they generate 25% of their energy from renewable sources (source: Yet South Africa has far more incoming solar radiation.
South Africa's immense solar potential

Additionally, there are several groups actively pursuing LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) technology. Last week Andre Rossi, the developer of one form of LENR sold his "intellectual property and licencing rights" and to an American company: Industrial Heat LLC. Should they develop the technology rapidly and responsibly, it has every chance of sounding the death nell for a carbon based economy.

So we need to act hard, and we need to act soon to stop fracking exploration from beginning. Learn from Dakota: within less than seven years, it went from virtual darkness to city-like brightness due largely to the fracking boom.
"That's not a city; and those lights weren't there six years ago"

And if you still think that fracking is an acceptable "intermediary", watch this.

Its time to make a stand! Renew your vow to boycott Shell today until they pull out of fracking in South Africa. 
Contact me on with ideas on what can be done.
Twitter: @TNBloganist

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unlawful and Uncooperative Traffic Cop Operating Fraudulently Fines Good Samaritan

I have just returned back from being fined by a traffic cop, ostensibly for stopping to help him.

The camera was obscured a mere 42m behind the nearest Oleander bush, and thus was at a jaunty angle to the traffic. The camera was not on a firm and stable surface, but in the ditch in the traffic island. Officer Finlayson, number 10588968, refused to hand over the permit for the camera, and became obstructionist at the end of the discussion. He fined me for stopping on a freeway without putting out a triangle. As I was parked behind him, he charged me for an offense of which he was equally guilty. Are traffic cops above their own laws? The cop is still continuing to trap illegally as I was unable to stop him.
I do not know what to do at this point. Any suggestions are welcome, please send suggestions to capebio -at-

Here is my transcript of the event.

The unmarked Venture CA175-822 was parked on the M3 near the Blue Route Mall turn-off, and had no hazard lights on, and no hazard triangle had been laid out behind the car. I ostensibly pulled off to find out if the driver needed assistance with his vehicle, but instead, after surveying the traffic camera, the cop stepped from his car, and told me that I had parked illegally on the side of the highway, and was going to fine me for doing so.
I pointed out to him that his traffic camera was illegally positioned, and that I would like to see his certificate. He said that I had not put out a traffic triangle, and thus he required my licence card, and that he would deal with my complaint after fining me.
I handed over my card, and patiently waited.
He asked me for my residential details, and I told him. He said that he didn't believe me, and that had he reasonable suspicion that I was not telling the truth, that he could detain me for up to 12 hours. I repeated my address, and he brightened up and said: "I know you! I met you once regarding a complaint near the Baxter theatre". After some moments of banter I insisted on proceeding with the issue at hand, and he then asked for my business address, and that I have to give it to him. I said that I did not have to give him my business address, as I may be unemployed.
He said, he would just write down UCT, Botany Dept.
After that asked me to sign. I said I was under no obligation to sign - so he wrote down Refuse To Sign.
He then tried serving me the notice, but I refused to accept it. He said that he couldn't force me to take it as that would be assault, so he said he would put it in my car, and walked up to my car. I said that I did not grant him permission to open my car door, and he looked uncertain for a moment before realizing that the window was open. Dropping the fine onto the seat, he said:" you have been served". He then told me that I had to move the vehicle immediately, as it was illegally parked. I said I would do so after he dealt with my complaint. He again ordered me to move it immediately or he would be forced to arrest me. I said that we had agreed that he give me the certificate.
He then walked back to his car and said that he was going to have to fine me for walking on the side of the freeway, and started writing out another ticket. 
I said that I insisted that he deal with my complaint about the camera being illegally positioned. He then handed me the certificate which I perused. It showed that the certificate of calibration was registered on the 4th of December, and that it was valid till the 04 June.
I then asked for the certificate of current calibration and permit for being there. He said that if I did not move the car immediately, he would arrest me.
I climbed back into the car, drove 300m till I was off the freeway and ran back to the cop.
I paced out 42 m from the obstructing bush to the camera that was in the centre of the traffic island. I told the cop I wished to speak to him, but he closed the window. He then proceeded to speak into his ipad. I then knocked on his window, but he ignored me. I said that my car had broken down and could he help me. He repeated what I said and laughed.
 I checked the spirit level on the camera. The centre of the bubble in the vertical plane was on the edge of the marking. i.e. not level.
I then walked in front of the camera, and he got out his car and said that would arrest me for obstruction of lawful duty if I obstructed the camera again. I said that the camera was unlawfully positioned, and that I required the camera permit. 
He climbed into the car and refused to speak to me.
I returned to my car and wrote this blog.
Twitter: TNBloganist

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cape Gooseberry under attack by herbivorous faeces!

What resembles a hunchback when curled up, throws up when disturbed, covers itself in its own faeces and eats leaves?

Faeces chomping my gooseberry leaf
A close up of  the dastardly herbivorous faeces.
This morning, after a glorious few days break exploring my inner feminine at the Space of Love, and then exploring my overt masculine at the Annual Hermanus Camp, I returned to my garden under an(other) attack. The leaves and branches were speckled in squishy wet faeces that were evidently snacking on the leaves of my gooseberry plants. They had eaten a considerable portion of the leaves of the Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) bushes. Closer inspection revealed that beneath these faeces were larvae of Lema trilinea. With their tiny legs and massive bodies, these wouldn't look out of place guiding an alien craft through the cosmos. So perhaps the answer to the above conundrum, as suggested by my digsmate, is poo-worms?

A young worm with barely any faeces covering it.
The Cape Gooseberry is not from the Cape, but western South America. Rather, they are named from the cape/cloak that covers their blessed edible fruiting bodies. They are densely covered in hairs which due to their density, likely serve as formidable protection against microherbivores. However, once nibbled upon, the plant appears to activate a secondary defense. In harvesting the worms to incubate them, I found that leaves that were being nibbled on were much easier to remove than intact leaves. it would appear that the plant ejects its leaves to jettison its unwelcome guests. An expensive but possibly effective strategy for barely mobile pests.

The worms on the other hand have an unusual defense. From a very young age, they start accumulating faeces on their backs. These continue to pile up until the worm below is no longer visible. I've heard of organisms camouflaging themselves as turds, but to actually strap your toilet onto your back - that's an entirely different and gutsy defense! Talking of guts, their secondary defense is to puke when disturbed - just in case you weren't put off by their faecal shield.

If I could come up with an adage about my organic garden it would be this: For every food plant that thrives, it will, at some time, support an equally prolific pest that ensures that it doesn't.

I previously wrote about my strawberry plants being set upon by a veritable menagerie of pets pests including my dogs. The gooseberries, notwithstanding aphids, have thus far been my sole salvation. But no longer!
My solargooseberry plant with aphids aggregating within the cape.

What are these beasties that challenge my gooseberries as a crop, and further erode my ego as a gardener? Lema trilinea. I've never encountered them before. Here are scans of them.I would welcome identifications and information about them.

A worm resembling a hunchback from the side.

A Lema trilinea worm from below. The coloured legs are an artefact of the worm wiggling while being scanned.
Leaves showing considerable damage, and a recently hatched nesting site (RHS).

Close up of the hatching site.

In the centre-left, a clump of eggs can just be made out.

Close up of these eggs
A gooseberry with the cape having been devoured by the worms.
For more information about gooseberries including distribution and other common names, see Biodiversity International's New World Fruit Database. For their nutritional information see: