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Call centre: +27 86 111 2468 | www.environmen CLIMATE CHANGE Climate change is real and is already with us Climate change is having a serious impact on biodiversity and there is a threat to food security. The following environmental changes have resulted from climate change: • There is an increase in the average global temperature of about 1°C • A 0.19m rise in the average global sea level has been observed • There is reduced snow cover in the northern hemisphere, with melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, and there’s a 4% decrease in Arctic ice • Average precipitation over mid-latitude areas in the Northern hemisphere has significantly increased, with more heavy rainfall over most land areas and a higher risk of flooding • Since the 1970s, droughts are longer and more intense • Though some places have become colder, the general trend is a decrease in cold days and nights, with an increase in heat waves, as well as warmer days and nights • Over 30% of the increase in carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the oceans which are now 26% more acidic and warmer Rising temperatures The increase in global temperatures by 2100 is dependent on the extent to which action is taken against climate change. If extreme measures are executed, the increase would range between 1.1°C and 2.6°C. If large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions continue, the planet could be up to 4.8°C warmer. A drop of just 6°C in the earth’s temperature would plummet the planet into an ice age. Therefore, an average global increase of even 1°C has a colossal impact. Biodiversity: plant-life Climate change is having a serious impact on biodiversity and rising temperatures are a particular threat to plants that are slow to expand their range to cooler regions. South Africa has an extraordinarily rich plant species heritage and even has one of the world’s six floral kingdoms – the Cape Floral Region, made up of the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo biomes. Biomes are complex ecosystems that cannot simply relocate. Due to climate change, there will be a much smaller suitable region for the Cape Floral Region to flourish. Commercial forestry will be impacted due to of an increased frequency of wild fires and a decreasing availability of water in the south-east of the country. Farms will also feel the impact as crops will have reduced yields due to water and temperature stress. Maize, for example, is expected to show a 5-15% decline in yield for every 1°C increase in temperature. This will have a big impact on food security. Land-use change reduces the earth’s natural ability to store and absorb carbon dioxide. In 2015, South Africa published the first ever National Terrestrial Carbon Sinks Assessment. Biodiversity: wildlife Climate change is responsible for many factors that put the planet’s diversity of life at risk. These include more frequent extreme weather events, longer and more intense droughts, spreading disease outbreaks and habitat destruction. These factors affect biodiversity and could drive many species to endangerment or extinction. Marine biodiversity, particularly coral reefs, is at risk as seawater becomes warmer and more acidic. This not only compromises the health of ocean ecosystems, which are a major carbon sink and produce half of earth’s oxygen, but it also threatens the food security of the millions of people that depend on fish for food. The DFFE is prepared to manage biodiversity in a changing climate, actively seeking solutions to problems and then implementing them so that South Africa can adapt to a very different world. The economy Very high temperatures are bad for the economy. A changing climate means a changing economy. Hotter weather demands more electricity for air conditioning. Higher energy demand makes electricity prices climb. More disease outbreaks and fires threaten forests and plantations. Food prices are increasing. Income from fisheries is declining due to smaller catches and destruction of coral reefs. Tourism contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and has a massive carbon footprint. What needs to be done? The climate change crisis needs to be addressed in two ways. First, drastic measures are needed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution. Secondly, the consequences of global warming (which are already taking place) need to be prepared for so that the damage is minimised. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment aims to: • educate and engage with businesses to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases • help people and nature adapt to a changing climate • advance policies to fight climate change. Climate action By 2050, climate change could force 100-million people into poverty. We can reduce these risks by taking climate action. This will result in a global economic gain, cleaner air, a safer climate, containment of diseases and millions of new low-carbon jobs. Matt Palmer on Unsplash

ookmarkCC.pdf 1 2021/10/27 07:11 C WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE? WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE? Climate change is different from changes in the weather. Weather can change from day to day and hour to hour, while climate is the average pattern of weather over Climate a long change time. is different from changes in the weather. Climate Weather change can change is an from alteration day to of day the and earth’s hour to general hour, while climate is the average pattern of weather weather conditions. The most prominent part of climate over a long time. change is the rising temperature at the earth’s surface. Climate change is an alteration of the earth’s general Apart from increasing average temperature, climate weather conditions. The most prominent part of climate change also includes changes in rainfall patterns and an increase change is in the extreme rising temperature weather at events the earth’s that surface. lead to phenomena Apart from such increasing floods average and droughts. temperature, climate change also includes changes in rainfall patterns and an increase in extreme weather events that lead to phenomena such as floods and droughts. M C Y M CM Y MY CM CY MY CMYCY K CMY K WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE? WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE? Plant indigenous trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen for us to breathe. Plant indigenous trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and Recycle produce paper oxygen and for reduce us to breathe. plastic use. This saves trees, our oceans and reduces energy consumption. Recycle paper and reduce plastic use. This saves trees, Save our oceans water. Climate and reduces change energy contributes consumption. to droughts Do Save not water. let water Climate run change while contributes shaving, brushing to droughts teeth or washing vegetables. Do not let water run while shaving, brushing teeth or Save washing electricity. vegetables. Turn off lights when not required, fit a solar water heater, use gas for cooking, insulate your house, Save electricity. use energy-saving Turn off lights bulbs when and not required, save on your fit a electricity solar water bill. heater, use gas for cooking, insulate your house, use energy-saving light bulbs and save on your Transport. electricity Reduce bill. the amount of journeys you make by car. Use public transport, ride a bike, join a car-sharing club Transport. walk. Reduce the amount of journeys you make by car. Use public transport, ride a bike, join a car-sharing club or walk. Call centre: +27 86 111 2468 | www.environment.gov.za Call centre: +27 86 111 2468 | www.environment.gov.za

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