More extreme weather events and a rise of 6°C in average temperatures across the country could be possible by the end of the century. That’s according to an official government report released this week, which has pulled no punches in summarising just how climate change has already ravaged South Africa, with the worst yet to come.
Over the past few years, we have seen droughts cripple entire provinces. Then, when the rain does come in certain regions, the intensity of the storms often lead to displacements and deaths.
How climate change has effected South Africa
It’s at this point we’d like to shake some sense into climate change deniers. The National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy – published by the Department of Environmental Affairs earlier this week – says that most of the damage has already been done, as global warming wreaks havoc with our weather patterns:
“There is evidence that extreme weather events in South Africa are increasing, with heatwave conditions found to be more likely, dry spell durations lengthening slightly and rainfall intensity increasing.”
“Climate zones across the country are already shifting, ecosystems and landscapes are being degraded, veld fires are becoming more frequent, and overused natural terrestrial and marine systems are under stress.”
National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
How the climate is forecast to change in SA
Many parts of South Africa have experienced an average temperature rise of 2°C or more in the past century. According to the report, that’s more than twice the global rate of temperature increase for the western parts and the northeast. The biggest, and potentially most devastating “extreme events”, still lie in wait:
- Temperature increases greater than 4°C forecast across South Africa.
- Increases greater than 6°C possible set for western, central and northern interior.
- Increases in the number of heat-wave days and very hot days.
- A large number of projections predict generally wetter conditions over the central and eastern interior.
- South Africa will experience drier conditions overall.
Is there anything we can do?
However, this doesn’t have to be the “end of days” warning we’ve all come to fear. The government are already working on a set of interventions to help mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change. Their NCASS framework comes with a nine-step programme that aims to drastically reduce the damage caused by global warming: