Volume 53, Issue 1

This month, I’m turning my attention to a more ‘global’ observation !

In November, I had the great fortune of traveling to South Africa for vacation and, while there, had the opportunity to visit a hugely growing yet terribly impoverished community on the outskirts of Cape Town. It was an incredible glimpse not only into the culture and history of Cape Town but also a reminder that there were probably many, many communities such as this one at some point in the history of developing cities in the United States.

What made my experience unique was the realization that I was witnessing a very modern phenomenon in that a poor, underdeveloped community has rapidly growing access to global technologies (something that I doubt existed decades ago).

As a ‘for instance,’ this community has not, and never will be, introduced to what we know as “land lines” for telephone communication: this community leapt straight in the realm of cellular technology. Cellular technology is just more economical.

On top of this, the community is also leaping directly to solar-powered technology and foregoing what we know to be the conventional use of electric-powered or gas-powered home appliances. Inexpensive and highly efficient solar water heaters decorate the rooftops of many homes that otherwise appear to be lacking in ammenities.

I had to ask myself; Why aren’t we doing more of this?

A recent study by the Earth Policy Institute reveals that the U.S. “ranks 36th in installed [solar water heater] capacity relative to its population.” Food for thought the next time you enjoy a nice, hot shower!