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2021 one of the hottest years on record as scientists’ concern over climate change continues to grow

Planting trees helps to slow down climate change. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA).

Planting trees helps to slow down climate change. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Jan 22, 2022


Johannesburg - Rain, brought on by back to back La Niña events, may have made 2021 a cooler year for South Africans but for many, last year was one of the hottest on record.

In fact, 2021 according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) was globally the sixth hottest year on record, tied with 2018.

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It was the year that saw oysters off the coast of Canada cook in their own shells after temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius.

The WMO said in a statement that last year was about 1,11 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and it was the seventh year on record where the average global temperature was above 1 degree Celsius.

Scientists see this as further evidence of climate change taking hold.

For some this seemingly inevitable march towards a bleak future has manifested itself into a new recognised disorder, known as climate change anxiety disorder.

Also known as eco stress, this psychological disorder is born out of a sense of helplessness.

But not all is lost, climate change can be defeated but to do so takes a bit of sacrifice and the right choices. To get a little guidance of what to do, the Saturday Star asked two environmental activists for their take. As there have so far been seven consecutive hottest years on record we asked them for seven tips.

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Get involved in beach clean-ups as a way to halt climate change. Photo by Michael Walker

First off is Cassi Goodman of Extinction Rebellion Cape Town. Here are her seven suggestions.

1. Open your mind, educate yourself, and share what you have learned.

2. Organise. Look for local organisations for social/environmental good and join them. Let’s take to the streets and demand the urgent systems change we need.

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3. Think global, act local. Don’t get disheartened over the big picture, focus on what you have power over.

4. Consume less. Consider whether you want something because it will add to your well being, or just because you've been told to want it. Buy less stuff.

5. Help others be heard. If you're fortunate enough to have power (or money), political/social agency or a voice, use it to amplify the voices of those who aren't so fortunate.

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6. Change the way you eat. Reduce your consumption of meat and dairy products.

7. Take action to protect biodiversity. Plant trees, plant indigenous and pollinator-friendly plants; restore ecosystems; don’t use pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do beach clean-ups.

Picture by Courtney Africa.

Happy Khambule is the senior political advisor at Greenpeace Africa. These are her tips:

1. One simple question to ask yourself when making a decision regarding accessing a service or buy something is, is this greener?

2. Use one of your best powers as a South African and vote in politicians who are not corrupt, and are willing to fight for the environment.

3. Grow something you can eat, it will change your dynamic in how you relate to food.

4. As we face more unpredictable and extreme weather, make sure your property is prepared for such events. For example, put in place storm water drains that will prevent flooding.

5. Talk to one another, this is the best way to combat anxiety around climate change.

6. Join organisations that are trying to address the problem of climate change.

7. Collect water, get a solar geyser and put less strain on existing infrastructure.

The Saturday Star

Related Topics:

climate change