Johannesburg - Wits University’s Global Change Institute has been chosen to share the lead in a new international project to help Africa ‒ and the world ‒ better cope with the ravages of climate change and extreme weather events.
Represa, or Resilience and Preparedness to Tropical Cyclones across Southern Africa, which will also involve Mozambique’s Eduardo Mondlane University and the UK’s University of Bristol, has been established to better understand the nature and impact of the cyclones starting to ravage the KwaZulu-Natal coast, Mozambique and Madagascar annually.
There is a perverse irony in Africa’s climate change vulnerability: our mineral wealth was exploited to industrialise the northern hemisphere. That industrialisation and exploitation precipitated climate change, which hits Africa disproportionately harder than any other region in the world.
As a result, over and above poverty, we now have to withstand the rigours of floods, famines and droughts in an ever-more vicious cycle. The refugee crisis will become worse as people find their countries unable to provide shelter or drinkable water. Political instability and war will increase.
We need early warning systems, but most of all we need to evangelise on the need to curb global warming and adapt our lifestyles to become far more resilient. Whether it is changing the way we build houses and roads or the manner in which we safeguard water, these are actions that need to be given urgent and high-level priority.
That is our reality, unless we act to change this. Represa is a major, tangible, step in the right direction and it is fitting that one of our finest academic institutions has been chosen to co-lead it.
We have to change minds. We have to change behaviours. We have to work together. Irrefutable scientific data is the first step, developing practical tools and early warning systems is the next.
We wish the tri-varsity team well.