2015 is a pivotal year for climate change negotiations
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How hot will it get? and other burning questions

- Schalk Mouton

New book from leading climate change experts at Wits sheds light on how southern Africa is impacted.

Like the rest of the world, South Africa is currently seeing a number of irregular weather patterns, including droughts, storms and heatwaves, and citizens have many questions about what is happening and what to expect in the near and distant future.

The year 2015 is regarded as a watershed for global climate change action if a global average temperature rise of more than two degrees above the pre-Industrial level is to be avoided.

Two of the world-leading experts on climate change, Professors Bob and Mary Scholes, from Wits University, together with their colleague, Professror Mike Lucas, from the University of Cape Town, have been working on a book on climate change and its impacts on southern Africa.

The book, published by Wits University Press called Climate Change: Briefings from Southern Africa, takes the form of 55 ‘frequently asked questions’, each with a brief, clear scientifically up-to-date reply. Some of the questions answered include:

  • How hot will it get?
  • Will South Africa run out of water?
  • Are South Africa’s birds taking flight?
  • Do cow-farts really cause global warming?
  • Can solar and wind power meet our energy needs?
  • How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

“Many people have asked us so many questions on climate change so frequently, that we felt that it was important to write a book that the ordinary South African would understand, and get simple answers to their questions. We’ve managed to put together 55 of the most frequently asked questions,” says Mary Scholes.

Bob Scholes recently spoke to author and science commentator, Simon Gear about how climate change is expected to impact South Africa.

This book provides compelling evidence that the impact on agriculture, fisheries, water resources, human health, plants and animals as well as sea levels will be dangerous.

“We, as a country, have to get our own house in order to limit climate change, and what that really means, is reducing the carbon intensity of our economy. I am not saying we have to stop economic growth; I am not saying we have to stop using electricity or any of those things. We have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with our economy and our energy use. We have to de-carbonise,” says Professor Bob Scholes.