impacts of Global Warming on the South Africa

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Global Warming has become an increasingly a universal concern in the last few years. In the frenzy, one factor is overlooked, the earth naturally undergoes “warming and cooling cycles naturally response the changes” to certain atmospheric factors (Riphah, 2015), for example volcano eruptions. While earth undergoes this change, it typically occurs thousands of years to complete this cycle (Cho, 2017). It is the intractable increase in greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic forces are the source of major concern (Core Writing Team & Reisinger, 2007). There is a disconnect to public perceptions and global warming where there is extreme cold weather events occuring in recent years. These events should be seen as evidence to extreme weather patterns resulting from global warming (Capstick & Pidgeon, 2014).

Greenhouse gases, are vital to trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. The rapid increase in their volume in the last 200 years could lead to devastating effects of the plant and animal life (Water Wise, 2020). Interpreting global warming can be complex, I will therefore provide a few definitions from different sources. Global Warming is defined as the general increase in global temperatures by an accelerated rate than in documented history (MacMillan, 2016). Another source states, that global warming is a long term effect, this does not mean that the overall temperatures will be warmer year by year. Daily and annual temperatures will change and there will be abnormally cold days and nights, summers and winters (The Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences, 2014).

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Scientific research has produced staggering amounts of data verifying that the raising levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide as the source of global warming. The present volume is higher than the last 650 000 years (Core Writing Team & Reisinger, 2007). Global Warming impacts every facet of life, I will be focusing my assignment on Water Security, Food Security, Weather Patterns and Health Security.

Water Security

South Africa is considered to be a water sparse country. The country also has a high probability of evapotranspiration and modified rainfall patterns resulting from climate change and global warming (Makwiza & Fuamba, 2015). Evapotranspiration defined as the aggregate amount of water that is evaporated and transpired by plants (Hanson, 2016). In Southern Africa, floods and droughts have become more prevalent in the last few years. This is demonstrated in the drought that the Northern Cape is currently experiencing (Mabuza, 2020) and various flood warnings issued by the South African Weather service in the last few years. (Eyewitness News, 2014)

Figure 1 (Levizzani & Cattani, 2019)

One of the environmental assets are wetlands. They are crucial as it offers vital ecological service functions, and therefore they require preservation. Studies have revealed that 35% -60% of South Africa’s Wetlands have been destroyed (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2019). Wetlands are defined as the area between dry ground and where the water table is close to the surface, the waterlogged soil maintains plants and animals that have adapted to the environment (Belle, et al., 2018). These biomes are beneficial to the environment as they offer a variety of functions, which include diminishing disaster threats, adapting to climate change. (Belle, et al., 2018) The Eastern part of the South Africa, will probably be influenced by sea-water invasion resulting from deceased runoff and increasing sea levels. (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017:86). Floods may lead to water pollution from acid mind water and sanitation over flows, which will lead to increase in water borne diseases. Both factors will decrease the available fresh water (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017). Without wetlands to combat these challenges, fresh water will become a scare commodity.

One of the effects of global warming will be higher temperatures which will lead to a higher demand in water (Makwiza & Fuamba, 2015) from both the agricultural and domestic sector. Currently, South Africa is facing drought conditions, this has a vast impact on the Northern Cape farmers, many losing huge amounts of cattle. The herds have been radically decreased by approximately 50%. (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017) See figure 4.

Sustainable water organization of resources and deployment of plans to deal with possible water shortages need to be researched. Weather patterns will be explained next.


Southern Africa is predisposed to intense weather episodes, “with the most frequent being floods, droughts, large storms, droughts and wildfires.” (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017). Evidence has revealed that in the last four decades (1980-2015), “the South African development community experience 491 climate-related disasters, this has caused 110 978 deaths and left 2.47 billion people homeless.” (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017). The IPCC noted that during this period, the aggregate of “the solar and volcanic forcings” would have probabably caused a chilling effect, not warming. (Core Writing Team & Reisinger, 2007:39).

It has been said that temperature is raising twice as fast in South Africa than, the rest of the world. (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2012). South Africa will experience a temperature variance across the country, the Western side will have more frequent cold fronts from the west (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2012). Where the northern and western Cape is expected to have a decease in water runoff. (Ziervogel, et al., 2014)

With the relocation of rural populations to the major cities in South Africa, we also need to consider how extreme change in weather conditions would impact cities. Cities concentrate the population and extreme weather patterns would have a significate influence. These are predicted to increase with the severity of global warming and would have adverse affects on a large group of people. As cities grow, so does the number of low income communities, these individuals live in dangerous structures, with inadequate access to water, sanitation, electricity and health care (Barata, et al., 2011). Any severe weather pattern can disturb urban lifelines which can contribute to critical side effects on the health of city dwellers. An important matter when confronting future weather projections is quantifying the vaguesness characteristic in phases of modeling. (Makwiza & Fuamba, 2015)

Research has demonstrated that warming temperatures drive local escalations of the tropical hydrological cycle during EL Nino, this could lead to future El Nino events to be much more intense. (Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric, 2020) El Nino is the phenomena where the “surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean become significantly warmer” (Carlowicz & Schollaert, 2017). These occur approximately in December and causes lower rainfall patterns and temperatures exceeding the normal range. When this occurs, South Africa is struck by intense drought conditions (Grobler, 2018). El Nina is the conditions is the oppoiste to El Nino, this weather pattern is associated with above-average rainfall (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017). The figures listed below, illustrate the rainfall pattern for Southern Africa, there are years where the figures are extremely wet and some years where is it particularly dry. Health and weather patterns have interlinked affects, which I discuss next.

Figure 2 (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017)

Health Security

The mounting impact of global warming has significant repercussions for South Africa, given that the country has various susceptible groups. Scientist project that the temperature will be fluctuating between the provinces, but South Africa is projected to experience average increase of a 2°C above the global predictions (Wright, et al., 2014). This could influence the frenquency and intensity of rain that the provinces would receive. The alterations in the rain patterns and temperature can affect the country significantly when integrated with the current challenges. Research has found that severe weather events which includes the recent drought in the Western Cape (Welch, 2018) , would increase in the “vectore borne” diseases. These are diseases that are caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria (World Health Organisation, 2020). The speard of gastric, water-borne diseases would possibily vary with differing climatic conditions in South Africa (Wright, et al., 2014).

South Africa has an immense load of existing diseases, poverty and a barely functional public health system. The IPCC in a report dated 2016 found that people that would be most affect by climate-related disease would be situated in communities that already have a problematic condition. Climate change could have a possible impact on the mental health on society with more diseases disrupting in country (Chersich, et al., 2018). The increase in risk for properpy damage with the increase sea levels could also increase mental stress. (Davis-Reddy & Vincent, 2017) Various diarrhoeal diseases fluctuate seasonally, implying sensitivity to climate (World Health Organisation, 2003).

Figure 3 Illustrates the impact of climate change on diseases.

Figure 3 (Confalonieri & Menne, 2007)

Food Security

Food Security has largely been defined as the condition where all people, at all times have physical or economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times to meet their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life. (Reinders, 2015) Climate change is forecasted to influence the four pillars of food security, which are “availability, access, utilisation and stability”. (Mbow & Rosenweig, 2019). Food production is already under stress from non-climate factors, which are population growth and income. When global warming is added, for example, the infrequent or intense rain, the change is temperature patterns, could adversely affect the country’s food production. Studies had demonstrated that global warming has a serious impact on agricultural land and production, which will eventually affect food security (Masipa, 2017).

According to a report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dated 2007, from 1996 to 2016, the median growth of food production was 1.05% and population growth was 1.27% (Core Writing Team & Reisinger, 2007). This indicates that food production will cease to meet the universal demand for food, leaving masses of people without food. The effects of global warming on harvests is dependent on the province and nature of the harvest. Farmers will face more extreme weather events which will impact, the production of crops. (Mbow & Rosenweig, 2019)

Demetre, Yul and Zandile established that 35% of South Africa’s population are susceptible to food insecurity (Demetre, et al., 2009). The IPCC has reported that in the area below the Sahara desert, the agricultural yield will decrease from 21% to 9% by 2080. By 2080, there will be an increase in 3% of arid and semi-arid land (Core Writing Team & Reisinger, 2007) Figure 4

Food security is highly susceptible to “drought, flooding and pest outbreaks” (Masipa, 2017). Research has discovered that crops are affected by global warming by the introduction of new varieties of diseases that did not exist in the past. The result being, problematic management of the diseases since is no record for remedies. (Zwane, 2019)

Figure 4 (AgriSA, 2018/2019)

Figure 5 (AgriSA, 2018/2019)


The purpose of this assignment was to discuss the impacts of Global Warming on South Africa. In this assignment, I focused on four interlinked topics, namely Weather, Food Security, Health Security and Water Security. From the evidence presenced, the evidence demonstrated that the discussed topics will be greatly influenced. If no plans are implemented in the next few years, we need to prepare for a significate change in lifestyle.


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