Climate change: Storms, drought and insurance

Posted by Laura Grant on September 10, 2008
Posted in Green News

If you’ve been wondering whether the bad weather battering Cape Town of late is a sign that the effects of climate change are upon us, and thinking about whether you should sell the beach house and move to higher ground. Relax. iAfrica.com asked SABC weatherman Simon Gear some questions, like what happened to spring day this year? Here’s what he said:

“The weather was only unusual in the sense that really big storms don’t happen every day. But, in terms of weather, Cape Town should expect a storm like that every year or so. So, no, it wasn’t particularly unusual. Typically September does see a few fronts so the timing wasn’t unusual.

Insurance company Santam has decided to now factor climate change risk into its insurance premiums. Melanie Gosling of the Cape Times reports that a task team has been appointed to develop a business plan. One of the tools the company will use to assess an individual’s climate change risk is geographic information system mapping, the report says. This would allow the company to correlate a client’s physical address with climate change predictions. So, for example, people who live in areas that have been affected by floods a lot recently may find they’re viewed as a high insurance risk.

Flood risk isn’t something that the Karoo needs to worry about. The national department of agriculture has reportedly warned farmers in the central Karoo that, because of climate change, drought “may no longer be regarded as a disaster”, IOL reports. Climate researchers say that although there is no clear-cut forecast for the central Karoo, it is likely to experience droughts more often in future. Farmers can’t keep relying on disaster relief funds to bail them out, was the message from the national department of agriculture. They need to “adapt to the situation”.

The tourism industry also must plan for the effects of climate change, the environmental affairs and tourism minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said at an event to launch national tourism month last week. Environmentally based tourism was South Africa’s biggest drawcard, he said, but increasing temperatures may have an effect on beaches and conservation areas such as the Kruger Park. Tourism authorities and those looking to invest in tourism needed to take into consideration future changes in climate and know how to plan for the changes. [Bua News]

Photograph: DanieVDM, www.flickr.com, creative commons attribution 2.0 Generic licence

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