/ 18 January 2013

Fracked if I’m going to vote DA

Fracked If I'm Going To Vote Da

 And by that, I mean the vote of one particular ­member of the elite: me.

My decision to stop voting DA is not, as you might assume, the result of a growing appreciation for the ANC. Ha! The very thought! I am an educational psychologist. If I was caught voting for the party responsible for the textbook scandal and all the associated nonsense, my ­colleagues might kick me out.

Similarly, my decision is not owed to Ms Zille's well-publicised Twitter-related gaffes, nor the apparent ­difficulty she experiences in admitting that she is wrong about something. No, it is a very different issue that has led to me burn my DA membership card and take the drastic, irreversible step of "unliking" its page on Facebook. The issue is fracking.

Late last year, the DA announced that it would no longer oppose shale gas exploration and the associated hydraulic fracturing required to buoy the foul substance to the surface. Oh, it made the normal political grunts and squeaks about how it needs to be done "safely" and "responsibly", but the fact is that it caved in. And it did so, as far as I can tell, against the wishes of a large part of the electorate.

But it is not even this lack of concordance with its support base that bothers me. What really bugs me about this is that it illustrates that the DA is distressingly ignorant about the most important issue facing this country: global warming.

I wonder whether Zille has looked over the updated climate-change projection maps. They make for interesting reading. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that, if global warming continues at the current rate, maize production on the highveld may suffer to a degree that will threaten access to food for millions of our fellow South Africans. Indeed, the Centre for Global Development places our country in the one of the highest risk categories for losing overall food security as our planet warms. Likewise, one might hope that the premier of the Western Cape would be aware that those same scientists also predict that we will lose 20% to 40% of all our protea species as heat and drought grind them into extinction.

Consequences will be horrific
Make no mistake, dear reader, harsh international regulations limiting the use of fossil fuels will be enacted within the next 10 years, because if they are not the consequences will be horrific for all of us and those listed in the paragraph above will be just the beginning.

So the idea that the DA is going to sit back and allow our economy to be shackled to just another way of pumping carbon into the atmosphere strikes me as thoroughly ridiculous. I expect that sort of behaviour from the current ANC administration. It has a sterling track record of not planning ahead.

Some will claim that the seriousness of global warming compels us to accommodate hydraulic fracturers, because the natural gas they obtain is less of a carbon pollutant than other energy sources like coal or petrol. This is, of course, true, but it is analogous to saying that the way to save a burning house is by covering it with slightly smaller matches.

These few points are enough for me. I need not talk about fracking's appalling safety record worldwide or the huge risks it poses to the local environment. I will not take up any of your time to point out that, because  fracking chemicals are so slow to break down, fracking sites need to be constantly monitored and maintained for literally centuries into the future. But I would like to mention just one more thing. Even the fracking companies themselves admit that there is a chance that fracking will lead to the contamination of our groundwater. So, by allowing fracking, we are threatening our national water resources and we are doing so at a time when climate scientists are warning us of a dramatic increase in the risk of drought.

Dear reader, that is just crazy. And I am a psychologist, I know what crazy looks like.

So, I am sorry DA, but I will not vote for you in the next election, nor any subsequent election and I will do whatever is within my meagre power to convince overprivileged white Capetonians to do the same. I do not know whether we have a green party, or whether it is any good. But if we do and it is, then it will have my vote until such time as either the DA or the ANC stops its support of fracking and other anti-environmental activities and starts being serious about saving this country from the ­imminent impact of global warming. – Andrew Verrijdt, Cape Town