Monday, June 11, 2007


Climate change is a very serious issue of concerned around the world. It is a world wide problem that is said to have environmental and communal inference. A global change is behind the whole issue of global warming, thus changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and El Nino. Climate change does not only have impact on a major impact on the ecological environment around the globe but has impact on the production, consumption and lifestyle of human society [1]. Currently there is a debate brought by professor Will Alexander that there is no enough evidence to conclude that climate change is a serious threat more especially in South Africa. This study will reflect my opinion on the debate on climate change. [2]

The climate system is made of five components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the land surface, and the biosphere influenced by various external mechanisms. The sun is the external mechanism-influencing climate. There are also external forcing mechanisms, which are the human activities. [3]

Global change includes numerous environmental and ecological alterations that occur worldwide. It includes changes in ecology and environment as well as climatic composition of the atmosphere. Global change includes the study of climate change and these changes are unpredictable. It is accepted world wide that human activities such as deforestation are foremost causes of global change, for instance the use of natural resources as food and for economic gain are resulting to destruction of ecological infrastructure. [4]

The atmosphere is the unstable and rapidly changing part of the climate system. A number of trace gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone layer are found within this system [3]. It is widely accepted that human beings have always influenced their environment. The industrial revolution has brought the changes in the climate system. Human activities such as mining, that involves the combustion of fossils fuels for industrial purpose and burning of biomass produces enormous green house gases and aerosols which affect the composition of the atmosphere. The emission of these green house gases has led to the depletion of the ozone layer. Land use change through urbanization, agricultural practices, and deforestation affect the physical and biological properties of the atmosphere. There is big challenge to the scientist’s community to find way of dealing with this challenging issue of climate change. The challenge is how to get the developed nations to take the lead on green house gas emissions reduction and assisting the developing countries with technology transfer and capital. It is unfortunate that there are some scientists with different stories on this issue. The like of Professor Alexander believes that there is no need for the international community to panic because there is no conclusive evidence to support climate change. [3 and 4]

It is in my opinion that there is enough evidence that climate is changing in each day of our lives. Based on the report of the studies conducted by the intergovernmental panel on climate change (The science of climate change), there is enough evidence to support the fact that climate change is real and very serious issue around the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comprises of qualified and professional scientist representing all the countries governments. Using the past and current trends on carbon dioxide emission and concentrations, nitrous oxide, radiative forcing and temperature changes, there is enough evidence that climate is really changing. [5]

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change third assessment report on climate change, “the underlying process are however, well known and quantified” [5]. The report suggested that the earth in the year 2005 was in an average warmer than at any time in the last thousand years. The carbon dioxide concentrations of the atmosphere, one of the main trace gases responsible for the global warming is now high than at any time over the past 750 000 years, at least [5].

According to Middley 2006, plant species are very crucial in projecting and monitoring the climate impact on terrestrial biodiversity. Projecting and monitoring plant species done by collecting plant phonologies that then provide evidence of directional responses of the natural world to the apparent anthropogenic impacts of regional temperatures [6]. Currently in his study, there is enough evidence that some species have shifted from their geographic range because of climate change. A small number of extinctions is another evident attributable to climate change. [6 and 7]

According to the report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001, comparing the past trends on temperature and green house gas, conclusion is drawn that climate is changing continuously. Using the Antarctica as an example, the ice cores indicates low concentration of carbon dioxide and methane during the glacial periods and high concentration during interglacial. The increase in green house gasses correlate closely with temperature change and this suggest that green house gases are playing a role in global temperatures. [5]

The global trends in fossil fuel and carbon dioxide emissions indicate that carbon dioxide concentration increased rapidly from below 1GL before 1950’s to 6.5 GT after 1996. Data collected in Greenland and Antarctica on methane concentrations 1600 AD to present indicate that there is increased concentration. There is evident of glaciers melting as well as thinning of ice caps worldwide. We have seen the increase in hurricane over the Caribbean as well as the devastating Katrina, which hit some parts of US, notably New Orleans. In 2003, an extreme heat wave engulfed Europe. Climate change can and is causing damage notably in agricultural and is already threatening peoples lives [5].

According to Xingshu 2007, China’s accelerating urbanization and industrialization indicates a massive rapid increase in demand for fossil fuels. Therefore, these mean that it will be producing more green house gas emission even the next 15 years. Currently China has been suffering from drought, rising sea levels, flooding, tropical cyclones, sandstorms, and heat waves because of climate change. [1]

Climate change is a very serious issue; therefore, some serious measures need to be considered in order to solve this problem. The increase in efficient use of energy can form part to slow the emission of gases that are playing a role in climate change. The use of renewable energy sources such as solar, biofuels and wind power for electricity generation can help in reducing Carbon dioxide emissions. In South Africa, the Department of Minerals and Energy is playing a leading role in promoting the use of renewable energy sources for electricity generation to minimize the dependants on non-renewable sources like coal that are regarded as the highest source of carbon dioxide emission. It is important that countries start to promote the use of renewable energy technologies in order to lower the level of climate change.

Through international co-operation, the issues of climate change will have to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The existing global climate regime, which is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, needs to work effectively and efficiently. The world powers such as United States of America, that is considered number one emitter of green house gases, need to take part on measures to tackle climate change [1]. It is important that countries need to follow suite what china is doing on trying to address this problem. China is considered number two in the world following the United States; however it is actively participating in bilateral, multilateral and global initiatives on energy efficiency, development of renewable energy and carbon capture and storage within a framework of sustainable development. [1]

Based on these report, one can accept that climate change is not a hoax but a really issue that needs a special attention. If Professor Alexander calls for a government commission of enquiry, to me it is of no use to have such because the IPCC is comprised of leading scientists representing government of different countries around the world [5]. It is my understanding that these scientists are doing enough to keep the people informed in all issues around climate change. I think Professor Alexander is wrong by saying there is no enough evidence to say that climate change is real and is affecting South Africa. Based on the above evidence provided by a team of leading scientists, climate change is a serious problem therefore people must not be misleaded by only few group of scientist with only few evidence to support their claims.


1. Xingshu Z, 2007. Climate change realities hitting G8 and china, [Internet] [Cited 2007 June 10]. Available from:
2. Farmers weekly, 2005. Climate change-fact or fiction? [Internet] [Cited 2007 June 10] Available from:
3. IPCC Working Group I, 2001. The Scientific Basis, [Internet] [Cited 2007 June 10] Available from:
4. Dukes JS and Mooney HA, 1999. Does global change increase the success of invaders? Trends Ecol Evol 14: 135-39.
5. IPCC Report, 2001. The science of climate change, [Internet] [Cited 2007 June 10] Available from:
6. Anonymous, 2006. Fourth annual GBIF science symposium: The role of GBIF and other new technologies in conservation and monitoring of biodiversity change. 5-6 April 2006. Cape Town, South Africa.
7. Middley et al, 2005. ‘Climate change: no trivial threat’: Farmers weekly, [Internet] [Cited 2007 June 10] Available from:
Mr Lufuno Mukwevho
102 Hoogsteede Flat
59 Plein street
Tel : 012 317 8759
Cell : 072 317 5626