What Latest Assessment On Global Warming Means For Southern Africa

What Latest Assessment On Global Warming Means For Southern Africa The Okavango Delta in Botswana. Shutterstock

The release this week of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels marks a critical point in climate negotiations. Billed in the media as “life changing,” the report illustrates how crossing the ever-nearer threshold of 1.5℃ warming will affect the planet, and how difficult it will be to avoid overshooting this target.

The special report takes a worldwide look at the growing impacts of climate change. For climate change “hotspots” – hot, dry and water-stressed countries like Botswana and Namibia in southern Africa – local warming and drying will be greater than the global average.

The report underscores the urgent need for countries like Botswana and Namibia to prepare and adapt – and do so quickly. The Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C, by the turn of the century will be extremely challenging. To date, mitigation pledges by nations fall far short of what is needed, with global temperatures on track for a warming of 3.2°C by 2100. Under an increasing emissions trajectory, the 1.5°C threshold could be breached as early as the next decade, and the 2°C mark the decade after.

Our analysis of the effect in Botswana and Namibia of 1.5°C, 2.0°C and higher levels of global warming shows that they’re likely to get hotter, drier and more water-stressed. The sooner southern African countries prepare and implement adaptation strategies the better.

Impact

Botswana and Namibia already know the challenges of droughts and floods. A few years ago, Botswana’s capital city Gaborone was on the brink of running out of water as the country battled its worst drought in 30 years. Neighbouring Namibia has battled with recurrent and devastating droughts and floods in recent years, especially in its northern regions, where most of the population live.

Global warming of 1.5°C would lead to an average temperature rise above the pre-industrial baseline in Botswana of 2.2°C and Namibia 2.0°C. At 2.0°C global warming, Botswana would experience warming of 2.8°C. Namibia would warm by 2.7°C.

Changes in rainfall are also projected to shift. At 1.5°C of global warming, Botswana would receive 5% less annual rainfall, and Namibia 4% less. At 2.0°C global warming, annual rainfall in Botswana would drop by 9%, with annual rainfall in Namibia dropping by 7%.

Both countries would also see an increase in dry days. At global warming of 1.5°C, projections show Botswana having 10 more dry days per year. That number rises to 17 extra dry days at 2.0°C global warming. For Namibia, dry days increase by 12 at global warming of 1.5°C, and by 17 at 2.0°C.

The impact of global warming on extreme events is also evident. Both countries can expect roughly 50 more days of heatwaves at 1.5°C global warming, and about 75 more heatwave days at 2.0°C global warming.

Tables show the projected impact of hotter temperatures.

What Latest Assessment On Global Warming Means For Southern Africa What global warming of 1.5°C. and higher means for Botswana.

What Latest Assessment On Global Warming Means For Southern Africa What global warming of 1.5°C. and higher means for Namibia.

Vulnerable sectors

The effects of higher global and local temperatures will be felt in various sectors key to the prosperity of people and economies in both countries.

Understanding what this will mean for sectors like agriculture, health and water, is crucial for adaptation planning and thinking about what must be done, and by when.

In a hotter, drier future there will be less domestic water available. Runoff in Botswana’s Limpopo catchment is projected to decline by 26% at 1.5℃ global warming, and by 36% at 2.0℃. In Namibia, evapotranspiration rates increase by 10% at 1.5℃ global warming and by 13% at 2.0℃, leading to reduced river flows and drier soils.

Agriculture is particularly vulnerable, with potential drops in crop yields and increased livestock losses. In Botswana, at 1.5℃ global warming maize yields could drop by over 20%. At 2.0℃ warming, yields could slump by 35%. Rain-fed agriculture is already marginal across much of the country, and anticipated climate change may well make current agricultural practices unviable at 1.5℃ and above. In Namibia, productivity of cereal crops is expected to drop by 5% at 1.5℃ and by 10% at 2.0℃

The impacts of global warming on human health are also essential to consider. Heat stress is projected to become an increasingly greater threat. At 1.5℃ of global warming, Namibia and Botswana can expect roughly 20 more days of heat stress exposure in a year. At 2.0℃, in Namibia this doubles to around 40 more days of heat stress exposure.

All of these factors become even more severe should the 2.0℃ threshold be overshot.

Urgent action is needed

The progressively serious climate impacts at 1.5 and 2.0℃ in these countries demands concerted action, both locally and internationally. Leaders from countries such as Botswana and Namibia cannot let-up on the global stage in pushing for nation states to make good on, and further improve, their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. As the IPCC report shows, early and decisive action will not only reduce the risks of overshooting the Paris temperature targets, but also slow down the rates of change, making local adaptation easier to roll out.

At the same time, highly exposed countries such as Namibia and Botswana need to anticipate and plan for quite rapid changes in local weather and climate. They need an acceleration in developing adaptation strategies in a way that works for all people and across the economies of these countries. The time for pilot adaptation projects and experiments is over, and the moment to start mainstreaming climate resilience into public, private and community sectors has arrived.

In parallel, governments, scientists and development practitioners need to think longer term, to consider what overshooting the 1.5°C and 2°C targets really means for adaptation. At some stage, adaptation of these systems may not be enough, and complete transformations to new livelihoods that are suitable in a 2°C+ world may be needed.

About The Author

Mark New, Director, African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town. Brendon Bosworth, a communications officer with ASSAR, based at the ACDI, University of Cape Town contributed to writing this article. Tiro Nkemelang, a PhD student at ACDI and Roy Bouwer, a research assistant at ACDI, contributed to the underlying analysis.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know

by Joseph Romm
0190866101The essential primer on what will be the defining issue of our time, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a clear-eyed overview of the science, conflicts, and implications of our warming planet. From Joseph Romm, Chief Science Advisor for National Geographic's Years of Living Dangerously series and one of Rolling Stone's "100 people who are changing America," Climate Change offers user-friendly, scientifically rigorous answers to the most difficult (and commonly politicized) questions surrounding what climatologist Lonnie Thompson has deemed "a clear and present danger to civilization.". Available On Amazon

Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future second edition Edition

by Jason Smerdon
0231172834This second edition of Climate Change is an accessible and comprehensive guide to the science behind global warming. Exquisitely illustrated, the text is geared toward students at a variety of levels. Edmond A. Mathez and Jason E. Smerdon provide a broad, informative introduction to the science that underlies our understanding of the climate system and the effects of human activity on the warming of our planet.Mathez and Smerdon describe the roles that the atmosphere and ocean play in our climate, introduce the concept of radiation balance, and explain climate changes that occurred in the past. They also detail the human activities that influence the climate, such as greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and deforestation, as well as the effects of natural phenomena.  Available On Amazon

The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course

by Blair Lee, Alina Bachmann
194747300XThe Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course uses text and eighteen hands-on activities to explain and teach the science of global warming and climate change, how humans are responsible, and what can be done to slow or stop the rate of global warming and climate change. This book is a complete, comprehensive guide to an essential environmental topic. Subjects covered in this book include: how molecules transfer energy from the sun to warm the atmosphere, greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect, global warming, the Industrial Revolution, the combustion reaction, feedback loops, the relationship between weather and climate, climate change, carbon sinks, extinction, carbon footprint, recycling, and alternative energy. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

EVIDENCE

Ice On Earth’s Rivers Is In Rapid Decline
Ice On Earth’s Rivers Is In Rapid Decline
by InnerSelf Staff
The amount of ice in the Earth’s rivers has declined rapidly over the past three decades, and the trend is likely to…
Climate Watchdog Warns US Fracking Boom Leading to 30% Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2025
Climate Watchdog Warns US Fracking Boom Leading to 30% Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2025
by Jessica Corbett
This analysis shows that we're heading in the wrong direction and really need to slow emissions growth from the oil,…
Daily Weather Now Shows Climate Change’s Fingerprints
Daily Weather Now Shows Climate Change’s Fingerprints
by InnerSelf Staff
Climate researchers can now detect the fingerprint of global warming in daily weather observations at the global scale.
Our Climate Is Like Reckless Banking Before The Crash – It's Time To Talk About Near-term Collapse
Our Climate Is Like Reckless Banking Before The Crash – It's Time To Talk About Near-term Collapse
by Aled Jones and Will Steffen
After a quarter of a century of nations from around the world coming together to discuss progress in dealing with…
Racing Ice Loss Strips Greenland Of Mass
Racing Ice Loss Strips Greenland Of Mass
by Tim Radford
Greenland is shrinking, losing ice seven times faster than a generation ago. Scientists have taken a new and ominous…
Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
Americans Are Worried About Climate Change, But Underestimate How Serious It Is
by Bobby Duffy
The world is often better and getting better than people think. Murder rates, deaths from terrorism and extreme poverty…
Fossil Fuel Production Plans Could Push Earth off a Climate Cliff
by The Real News Network
The United Nations is beginning its climate summit in Madrid.
UN Report Warns Only Rapid and Transformational Action Can Stave Off Global Climate Disaster
UN Report Warns Only Rapid and Transformational Action Can Stave Off Global Climate Disaster
by Jake Johnson
Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly…

LATEST VIDEOS

Hydrogen Fuels Rockets, But What About Power For Daily Life?
Hydrogen Fuels Rockets, But What About Power For Daily Life?
by Zhenguo Huang
Have you ever watched a space shuttle launch? The fuel used to thrust these enormous structures away from Earth’s…
Fossil Fuel Production Plans Could Push Earth off a Climate Cliff
by The Real News Network
The United Nations is beginning its climate summit in Madrid.
Big Rail Spends More on Denying Climate Change than Big Oil
by The Real News Network
A new study concludes that rail is the industry that's injected the most money into climate change denial propaganda…
Did Scientists Get Climate Change Wrong?
by Sabine Hossenfelder
Interview with Prof Tim Palmer from the University of Oxford.
The New Normal: Climate Change Poses Challenges For Minnesota Farmers
by KMSP-TV Minneapolis-St. Paul
Spring brought a deluge of rain in southern Minnesota and it never seemed to stop.
Report: Today's Kids' Health Will Be Imperiled by Climate Change
by VOA News
An international report from researchers at 35 institutions says climate change will threaten the health and quality of…
How Supercharged Trash Gas Could Produce More Green Energy
by InnerSelf Staff
Synthetic compounds called “siloxanes” from everyday products like shampoo and motor oil are finding their way into…
300 Million Face Severe Risk of Climate-Fueled Coastal Flooding by 2050
by Democracy Now!
As a shocking new report finds that many coastal cities will be flooded by rising sea levels by 2050, Chile’s President…

LATEST ARTICLES

Nuclear Power Cannot Rival Renewable Energy
Nuclear Power Cannot Rival Renewable Energy
by Paul Brown
Far from tackling climate change, nuclear power is an expensive distraction whose safety is threatened by wildfires and…
What Does A Healthy Diet Look Like For Me And The Planet?
What Does A Healthy Diet Look Like For Me And The Planet?
by Sean Beer
When it comes to finding a sustainable diet, there are many contradictions. A concept such as food miles can be helpful…
Can An Underwater Soundtrack Really Bring Coral Reefs Back To Life?
Can An Underwater Soundtrack Really Bring Coral Reefs Back To Life?
by Isabelle Côté
Noisy reefs are a very good thing. So good, in fact, that we might be able to use the sound of healthy coral reefs to…
Rising Eco-anxiety Means We Should Address Mental Health Alongside Food Security
by Laxmi Prasad Pant
For over a quarter of a century, United Nations climate negotiations have failed to reach a legally binding treaty.
How To Monitor The Bushfires Raging Across Australia
How To Monitor The Bushfires Raging Across Australia
by Amanda Gearing
As I write this, fires are consuming huge swathes of Australia and conditions are expected to worsen. The situation is…
Ice On Earth’s Rivers Is In Rapid Decline
Ice On Earth’s Rivers Is In Rapid Decline
by InnerSelf Staff
The amount of ice in the Earth’s rivers has declined rapidly over the past three decades, and the trend is likely to…
Climate Watchdog Warns US Fracking Boom Leading to 30% Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2025
Climate Watchdog Warns US Fracking Boom Leading to 30% Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2025
by Jessica Corbett
This analysis shows that we're heading in the wrong direction and really need to slow emissions growth from the oil,…
Move by Olympia, Washington to Create Zero Fare Public Transit
Move by Olympia, Washington to Create Zero Fare Public Transit
by Eoin Higgins
City is latest in the country to offer publicly-funded transportation for residents and visitors.