Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. The climate of Africa ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. Its northern half is primarily desert, or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both savanna plains and very dense jungle (rainforest) regions. In between, there is a convergence, where vegetation patterns such as sahel and steppe dominate. Africa is the hottest continent on earth and 60% of the entire land surface consists of drylands and deserts. This characteristics doesn’t sounds great but the situation is even bad. That is the reason, why i chose this theme.
African governments face several challenges in implementing environmental protection mechanisms. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from some serious environmental problems, including climate change, water pollution, coal mining, nuclear waste, deforestation, overfishing and industrial agriculture etc. I am interested in tree of them, climate change, coal and nuclear, and i will tell you something about it.
Over 180 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone could die as a result of climate change by the end of the century. Unpredictable rainfall patterns, lower crop yields, soaring food prices and dwindling natural resources are already causing increased human migration, tension and conflict.
Warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns could also create new habitats for disease-carrying organisms such as mosquitoes, opening up new areas to dengue, yellow fever and malaria.
Currently an estimated 93% of South Africa’s electricity comes from coal. There are presently 13 operational coal-fired power stations in the country. In addition, Eskom (the power utility) is currently constructing two new coal fired power stations. These new power stations will be the third and fourth largest coal-fired power stations in the world, and Kusile will require a massive 17 million tons of coal per year.
South Africa is a water scarce country, yet every step in the chain of using coal to produce electricity pollutes and consumes vast amounts of water. Together with coal mining, burning coal for electricity generation has a number of serious implications for both water quantity and quality.
Eskom uses just over a staggering 10 000 litres of water per second which equates to the same amount of water a single person would use in one year (i.e. based on access to 25 litres per day). Meanwhile nearly a million South African households still have no access to the minimum 25 litres of water per day.
As citizens we should demand to have better management of our water resources.
While governments around the world are rethinking nuclear energy after the Japan nuclear disaster, South Africa is planning to build new nuclear power stations. The bottom line of SA’s race to build nuclear is that South Africa is poorly equipped to take on this technological challenge. There are many more reasons against going down a nuclear road. This includes the fact that the country lacks both the funding strategy and the qualified staff to realise the nuclear expansion program.
Furthermore, after 60 years of nuclear power, there is still no solution for safe, long-term storage of radioactive waste anywhere in the world.
The energy choices being made by the government regarding this nuclear proposal will fundamentally affect our country’s ability to combat climate change and create a clean, safe and secure energy future for all South Africans.