Climatic challenges of our times

Climate change is one of the challenges facing human kind in recent times. The explanation given to the causes of climate change is that carbon dioxide or carbon emissions as by product of industries and fossil fuel utilization, that end up breaking the ozone layer, thus exposing the earth to ultra violet rays, hence likely to increase global temperatures. This gives rise to various natural risks , like drought, floods, etc. Such natural disasters will  sadly give rise to food scarcity, much to the suffering of people. Property damage is possibly a likehood, due to heavy floods. Then, the challenge, to all is what to be done?

The critical part of climate change is: what can ordinary citizens and laymen like me do to mitigate this? So greening of the environment where we live, by planting indigenous plants, is highly recommended, for obvious reasons of carbon dioxide trapping, aesthetic value, wind break and biodiversity. Ordinary people should be encouraged to take initiatives to run nurseries, not only for job creation purposes but also for the simply goal to green our living space in our communities. On the other hand recycling will go a long way, ensuring that fossil based  energy used to produce particular product is lowered as much as possible, therefore less carbon doixide emitted. Recycling at homes will further add value in terms of organic vegetable producing, as all bio-degradable matter can be turned into nutrient-rich compost.

Secondly, the State needs to support the exploitation of industrial plants to produce environmentally friendly, renewable, bio-energy much to the benefit of all concerned. Somehow, the concerns of the State were quite understandable, given the fact that using food crops to produce any bio-fuel, was absolutely counter intuitive, taking into account likely high food prices as well as food security, as the result of competition. If ever, the marginal lands can be utilized to produce industrial crops for bio-fuel production, that on its own can solve quite a number of the challenges we are currently grappling with, like unemployment, high prices of crude oil and under utilization or none use of available lands. Ironically, the State has not shown keen interests in renewable energy initiatives so and surprisingly the current issue is Hydraulic fracturing, of which is extraction of shale gas down in the bowels of the earth by fracturing shale rocks with high pressure water and chemicals to tap into shale gas. That topic on its own has stirred hornet’s nest, much to the agitation of environmentally friendly people of South Africa. So given the plight of South Afrika with the so called Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), from mining activities that took place century ago, so one wonders as to what would be the repercussions of Fracturing thereof, compared to the threats and health risks and hazards posed by AMD, due to contamination of scarce water resource?

So climate change on its own, will challenge all people alike, as it will throw anything, anytime, pertaining to natural disasters and therefore, the question is how do prepare ourselves to face and cope with such challenges? Climate change calls for everybody indeed, to be innovative in all aspects of life. Food production is at risk, floods, drought spell are likely to occur, veldfires are getting more prevalent due to strong winds, more animal diseases outbreak, environmental degradation due to serosion arising from heavy floods, and infestations by alien invasive plants. Given, the population dynamics of growing populace and fairly high rate of urbanisation in South Africa, the climatic challenges necessitate meticulous planning in terms of food security as well as technology, particularly with regards to processing. This is because in the times of abundant harvest, more food to be preserved for future consumption in times of drought spells and floods. One question is, how would South Africa, cope with the tsunami, with the magnitude experienced by Japan recently? Will we ever cope, or else we be dependently be at the mercy of of donor countries?

Furthermore, are our academic institutes aligning themselves to be ready to produce well researched, innovative plans and ideas, that will be indeed, to some degree be mitigating the impact of climate change? South Africa, as the country has got the obligation to do its best, to ensure its citizens are well informed, so that they can do their much on their own, in line with the national objectives. The State must be at the frontline, to ensure that every things planned is implemented, and to  encourage the people to own the challenges of climate change, the better. For most of the climate change causes are man-made, as such the solutions are much likely to be  created by man himself thereof.

These call for best practices, that are naturally environmentally friendly and adoption of renewable, bio-energy initiatives are no longer matter of choice, but rule. Recycling must be indeed be rule, not just an option. Basically, these are the simple options to ordinary men and women of South Africa, to be as friendly as possible to Mother Earth for all creatures to benefit mutually. The onus is upon us to do the right thing, by all means possible. At times, the climate change concept  can be so scientifacally confusing, however our own simple initiatives will bit by bit untangle the complex challenges posed by it. Therefore, adoption of simple strategy, as simple, easy as greening,  recycling and solar energy utilization by us all, will indeed make a dent on mammoth challenge, as complex as climate change.

Sithembiso Mahlaba

An agriculturist by profession, blogger by passion, prominent opinion-maker without favour or fear.

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