National Science Week dialogue: The economic impact of climate change

Posted on August 06, 2019

Dr Mmatlou Kalaba, a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, was invited to participate in the 2019 National Science Week (NSW). This year the NSW event ran from 29 July to 3 August in Centurion.

The NSW is an annual event hosted by the South African Weather Services (SAWS) and organised by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and aims to exhibit and communicate awareness in science. The NSW is an initiative of the National Department of Science and Technology (DST), and it represents a countrywide celebration of science, engineering and technology. The NSW attracts thousands of learners, and members of the public and involves various stakeholders and role players conducting science-based activities such as workshops, science shows and lecturers during the week.

The 2019 theme is “facing the harsh realities of climate change”. Dr Kalaba’s presentation was on the economic impacts of climate change and how it flows through flooding, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and easing sea levels. South Africa experienced more than 200 drought events in that past 15 years.

The secondary impacts of that include low productivity, high unemployment and inflation as well as a shortage of resources to address other economic and societal needs. Over this period, the South African economy became weaker and has not recovered from the global economic meltdown over a decade ago. As a result, incidences of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and balance of payment worsened.

Although South Africa introduced a carbon tax as one other step towards addressing climate change, all global citizens must play their role in reducing and mitigating these harsh realities of climate change.

- Author Mmatlou Kalaba

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