Climate Change In South Africa

As with all countries, global warming has its effects on South Africa and due to climate change, increased temperatures and decreased rainfall are expected in South Africa. Societal changes will inevitably result from the environmental ones.

Because of the existing ideal climate, South Africa is an agricultural country that greatly relies on the production of crops to not only feed their own nation, but to reap an income from exports as well.

If rainfall decreases, water supplies will reduce. With the increase of temperature, hotter days with more evaporation can be expected. This, as you might already know, is not good for existing crops. Droughts and the loss of agricultural land will result in a great loss for South Africa, both in financial terms and food supply terms.

The less fresh produce it can deliver, the higher the price of food will become. In a developing country, this will have a great impact. The supply of food will also eventually run out if adaptations are not made.

South Africa falls within the top 20 contributors to greenhouse gasses. This puts its greenhouse gas emissions higher than some fully developed countries. Now, this can be contributed to the fact that South Africa relies on coal in order to produce electricity.

During 2007, due to a lack of efficient planning and development, many South Africans endured what was called Load Shedding. This continued for a while, causing many businesses to lose money and resort to investing in things such as generators.

In itself, coal and the mining of other fossil resources is what supports the country economically and stopping it, will result in the loss of not only an income, but jobs as well. In a country that has high numbers of unemployment, this will be catastrophic.

If looked at from another perspective, South Africa is in a bit of a Catch-22.

It relies on the burning of fossil fuels for electricity. The mining of fossil resources do not only create jobs, but supports the country economically.

Electricity generated is what keeps the country up and running. It is used in factories, on farms and businesses. Take it away, and South Africa is left without power. What other appropriate power technologies can be used instead? Alternative energies such as solar, wind turbines and 2nd generation biofuels may help.

Before radical decisions are made in this sector, efficient alternatives must be found. There is no doubt that South Africa has to focus on sustainable development if it wants to move forward in an environmentally sound way, but equally economical and social benefits must be reaped from these alternatives.

Adapting to change here is the name of the game. And like any country, climate change in South Africa can force people to see new opportunities and adapt sustainable way of life, more inline with the altered habitat. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN

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