So What is Happening to the Weather?

As I write this, meteorologists are predicting that an unseasonal and freakish storms with very high winds, rain with the potential for flooding and snow on the higher lying regions are about to hit the Highveld and Free State.
There are comments everywhere about how the weather has become so unpredictable. We need to expect the clamour to grow because the unpredictability and volatility will not become any less in the near term and so we had better get used to this because volatility and unpredictability is the new normal. Not just in South Africa, all over the world.
This is all the result of Climate Change.
Here are some of the changes predicted in the years ahead:
• Tropical forests transforming into savannah
• The Arctic will probably be ice free by the summer of 2040
• Even more frequent flooding in South-East Asia
• Even more bleaching of the coral reefs of the world
• Droughts becoming more and more prevalent in the South-Western Cape
• Decreases in crop yield in Southern Africa
This not emotional speculation. This is the result of rigorous global research, which includes some of South Africa’s most eminent climate scientists like Dr. Guy Midgeley and others who are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (The IPCC) who won the Nobel Peace Prize for their climate work.
All over the world communities are confronting the inexorably encroaching results of these grossly changed weather patterns. These will affect poor and rich countries alike: In the US cities have been enlarging storm water drains and culverts; in California they are engaged in the first “managed retreat” from the rising waters of the Pacific Ocean; on the other side of the country 13 islands are already submerged in Chesapeake Bay; nearly a million people in the world live in low-lying areas that will inexorably force many millions to become environmental refugees as they seek higher ground; in Holland they are spending billions of Euros to fight the rising sea levels by raising the dunes and enlarging the canals and rivers to cater for the increased water flow; and in England they are raising the height of London floodgates on the Thames River.
The phrase, “Adapt or Die” has probably never been more apt. We do not have time on our side. There is so much to be done and not enough time to do everything.
The amazing thing about the ingenuity of the human spirit is that we do find solutions and we do make them work.
In New York they are spending $550 million to renovate and green one of the world’s architectural icons – the Empire State Building.
If this can be done for a building that is almost 80 years old imagine what we can do as we build thousands of homes for the poor and as our economy develops and grows. We have the opportunity get it right from the start. We need our developers and architects to think of the future as they plan and develop our increasingly urban landscape.
Would it not be wonderful if our Government in its efforts to meet our International Covenants were to incentivise architects, builders, developers, the man in the street with either tax breaks or cash grants to ensure that every single building becomes as environmentally friendly as it can possibly be?!
Now that would be striking a blow for environmental freedom!

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