Climate Change in South Africa

© Roger DelaHarpe
Soil erosion, KwaZulu Natal

Although climate change is a natural occurrence, human industrial and development activities over the past two centuries have caused changes in climate independent from natural changes.

Climate change is a slow, natural cycle that causes the earth’s temperature to rise and fall periodically over centuries. Human intervention, however, has sped up the process and has had catastrophic effects across the globe. All ecosystems and biodiversities are threatened by climate change and its effects are remarkable on all life.

Climate change has a profound impact on human life - it influences temperatures shifts, food security, water resources, greenhouse gasses.

This is not a list of impacts we can expect to see as our climate shifts. Rather, it is an opportunity to introduce you to some of the real people of South Africa who will be expected to live through these climatic shifts.

Some of these people may even be stripped of their livelihoods as a result, even though their contribution to the pollution which causes the problem is close to negligible.

© Leonie Joubert

A South African Sangoma Story and Climate Change

Well, it's about more than that, but it starts with a borehole and a power line and a message from the ancestors....more

Atmospheric System and Pollution

The Conservationist John Muir once said that when you tug on a single thing in nature, you find it attached to the rest of the world....more

Cause and Effect of Climate Change

During the Live Earth concert held in Johannesburg in 2007, as part of a planet-wide effort to increase awareness around climate change, Conservation International installed a carbon footprint calculator in the VIP lounge....more

Changing Weather and Fortunes

Many moons ago, a young transport rider – who had been drawn to the flourishing businesses that grew up around the Kimberley diamond mines – decided to outspan his ox wagons and try his hand at something else....more

Climate and How the Earth Feeds into the System

As long as Earth has been shrouded in a thin layer of gas, its climate has shifted and swayed between different states in response to entirely natural cues from the sun and our orbit around the sun, from the albedo effect, in response to how thick the bla...more

Climate Change and Farming in South Africa

Over in the Western Cape, where the finger of climate change is already pressing down on the pulse of agriculture, farmers know that their land cannot support another 2°C increase in temperature, further rainfall loss or shift of seasons....more

Climate Change and the South African Farmer

One of Amy Whitfield Hoar's diary entries for January 1932 was a eulogy to a typical South African summer....more

Climate Change in the Cape

Something curious is happening in the Western Cape, and it’s a bit of an enigma to the climate scientists who discovered it....more

Climate Change: A Hotter South Africa

In 2004, scientists looked at records from 26 weather stations across the country and calculated about a half degree average increase since 1960 (specifically, an average 0.13°C increase per decade), with both minimum and maximum average temperatures ref...more

Climate Change: A Regional Ice Age

One tipping point, hidden away in the ocean, could bring a mini ice age to Europe. It sounds counter-intuitive, a regional ice age in the midst of global warming but if Greenland’s ice continues to melt, it’ll probably happen....more

Climate Change: Carbon Sinks

Carbon “sinks”, in the shape of forests and the ocean, strip about 40 percent of our annual CO2 emissions from the atmosphere....more

Climate Change: Signs From the Wild

A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, and since the 1980s the average atmospheric water vapour content has increased....more

Climate Change: The Science

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level....more

Climate Change: Tomorrows Climate

The shifts in climate which we’ve seen in recent decades will continue into the future and, in most cases, escalate....more

Rooibos Tea and Climate Change

The contents of teacup are dark and brooding, a deep rusted red, like metal that’s been stripped down by the corrosive touch of sea air....more

Rooibos: An African Climate Story

This is fynbos country - the last sliver of a fire-adapted, shrubby veld before the land gives way to the near-desert succulent Karoo....more

Shifting West Coast Currents

Born into deprivation, the West Coast fishers feel trapped on the economic fringe by unfair fishing rights allocations....more

South Africa Plant Communities and Climate Change

South Africa has seven distinct plant communities – desert, forest, fynbos, grassland, Nama-karoo, savanna and succulent karoo – and since their natural range reflects the climatic envelope of the biome, it made sense to use climate modelling to see how....more

The Effects of Climate Change in South Africa

The country has a variety of ecosystems and habitats that are changing dramatically due to enhanced climate change - some of which is caused by human interference....more

The Sobantu Floods of September 1987

Bongiwe's escape washed her up 10 kilometres away to the verge of a muddy little spruit which trundles down through an industrial hub outside Pietermaritzburg....more

The Travesty of Food Supply and Biofuels

South Africa’s staple, maize, has many faces: a bowl of sadza or umphokoqo with beans; lumps of iphuthu, moulded into the hand and dipped into meaty sauce, krummelpap with melted butter, sugar and milk; boiled mealie or braaied sweetcorn....more

Water Sources and Ownership

Let's look at a hypothetical fish tank, for a minute, to consider just how ancient and well-travelled its contents are....more

Wild Rooibos and Commercial Farms

Rhoda Malgas and her colleague Noel Oettle with the Nieuwoudtville-based NGO, Indigo Development and Change have been working extensively amongst communities in the Suid Bokkeveld and Wuppertal area to identify all the types of wild rooibos, which they ar...more