23 May 2017 – Western Cape premier Helen Zille declared the province a disaster area on Monday and urged residents to manage their water supplies more efficiently as the South African region tries to cope with what she described as the “worst drought since 1904”. Read more…
Every year, the worldwide wine industry suffers losses of more than $10 billion due to extreme weather events and natural disasters such as frost, hail, drought and forest fires.
Scientists investigated the extent to which 7,500 wine regions in 131 countries are affected by these events and how climate change affects the wine industry. Read more…
18 April 2017 – Warming of 2°C in Africa could reduce ag production by 20%
Scientific consensus is that a temperature increase of 2°Celsius would result in an average reduction of 15% to 20% in agricultural yields on the African continent.
The Center for Global Development’s 2011 report, “Quantifying Vulnerability to Climate Change Implications for Adaptation Assistance,” forecasts median agricultural productivity losses due to climate change ranging from 18% in North Africa to 19.8% in Central Africa through 2050.
The weak output in Africa, reinforced by a spike in temperatures and exacerbated by extreme climate events, could create a vicious loop of food insecurity, impoverishment, mass migration and, finally, armed conflict.
In addition to the moral imperative of feeding people, there is also an essentially practical argument to be made in favour of significantly increasing support for agricultural adaptation in Africa—the so-called feedback loop. By helping Africa boost agricultural production through improved soil management and irrigation techniques, as well as increased research on other farming techniques that respect the integrity of land, the global community also would be helping reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. That’s because the improved agricultural practices, as part of a virtuous circle, would increase yields on poor farmland, reduce deforestation and improve the carbon sequestration capacity of cultivated soil.
By maintaining African agriculture and reinforcing its capacity for adapting to climate change, the international community can show its responsiveness to the life-and-death issue of African food security, while addressing the global imperative to reduce temperature increases.
New research from the University of Manchester developed a graphene-based sieve that can filter out salt from seawater. The graphene oxide membrane could be a cheaper and more efficient filter for desalination plants to use. Read more…
National World Water Day, 22 March 2017, under the theme “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource” Read more…
The Swartland Municipality has issued a statement on the granting of two new sandmining licences on the Paardeberg, insisting that sandmining is “an important aspect of economic development in the Western Cape”.
Swartland wine producers appear to have lost their legal battle to stop sand mining in Paardeberg, a move which threatens to undermine 20 years’ worth of work to establish Swartland as a prized winemaking region.
The granting of new sand mining licences opens up the possibility that mining operations will now become a common sight the region, changing the landscape and destroying precious cultivatable land in a relatively small area.
The Swartland Municipality’s own Spatial Development Framework for the Paardeberg – an official document setting out policy guidelines for sustainable development in the area – had earmarked it as a conservation area – a fact which the municipality’s decision appears to contradict.
Ecolabels are part of a new wave of environmental policy that emphasizes information disclosure as a tool to induce environmentally friendly behavior by both firms and consumers. Little consensus exists as to whether ecocertified products are actually better than their conventional counterparts.