Climate change is making floods, fires and droughts more frequent and severe, by intensifying the circulation of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth.
Higher temperatures increase the amount of moisture that evaporates from land and water, leading to drought in many areas. Lands affected by drought are more vulnerable to flooding once rain falls.
As temperatures rise globally, droughts will become more frequent and more severe, with potentially devastating consequences for agriculture, water supply and human health. This phenomenon has already been observed in some parts of Asia and Africa, where droughts have become longer and more intense.
Hot temperatures and dry conditions also increase the likelihood of wildfires. Just as we hit more record high temperatures and drastically dry conditions last week Cape Town once again experienced a rash of fires in Ocean View, Misty Cliffs and Kommetjie among other places.
“Shortly after the beginning of the new year, conditions have steadily worsened. High speed winds and very dry conditions are making areas particularly vulnerable to runaway fires,” said Western Cape Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell.
Learn about who is most affected and some of the things we can do to prepare now and in the future.
Who is most affected by droughts?
- People living in places that are already dry
If a drought happens:
- Conserve water in your home and workplace
- Use irrigation techniques that use less water
Prepare for the future:
- Plant crops and grasses (for livestock) that can handle drought
- Landscape your yard with plants that don’t require a lot of water
- Use water–efficient appliances and fixtures in your home
Who is most affected?
- People living in wildfire–prone areas, such as townships or flat dry low lying areas
- People with asthma or other lung or heart conditions
To prevent wildfires:
- If you build an outdoor fire, make it safe and make sure it’s completely out when you’re done
- Don’t use stoves, lanterns, or heaters inside a tent
- Have fire extinguishers on hand
Prepare for the future:
- Avoid building homes in extremely fire–prone areas
- Build homes that are more fire resistant
- Plant fire–resistant shrubs and trees around homes
- Climate change impacts – Nature
- Extreme weather keeps Western Cape firefighters on their toes – News24
- Droughts and Wildfires – Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change
- Images: 14 haunting photos from the Cape Town fires – News24