James Clarke Masthead
November 9 2011 at 11:56

Stand by for the big talk festival in Durban at the end of this month when delegates from around the world gather to discuss climate change.

Imagine the fun if it snows!

In the good old days, climate was climate. Everybody knew what to expect.

In Joburg the rains started on October 17 at 4.30pm and stopped on April 10 around noon. From November to February the Highveld storms would deliver half an inch of rain as regularly as the milkman delivered one’s pint of milk. There was none of this millimetres nonsense.

Nowadays nobody has the foggiest idea what’s going on.

In Britain, where the weather has been reliably lousy since Cretaceous times, it has now been downgraded to “rather awful”.

Across the world flood levels are rising and rising and will soon be above sea level.

And look at America with its “hercanes” that blow away trailer parks leaving thousands of obese people in singlets homeless. Remember New Orleans? Look at Thailand today!

Somewhere there are always people praying for rain while others pray for it to stop. Are they suggesting the Lord isn’t aware of what’s going on? If they had genuine faith, why not specify just how much rain they want and where? (“Lord, I need 10mm on the mealies but hold off on the cabbages please.”)

Some say climate change presages dryer winters for Cape Town and wetter winters for Joburg and Durban. But that’s being absurdly optimistic.

But we have to take climate change seriously. We need to be praying for brains not rains.

American industrialists claim climate change is all humbug. This is because they fear being under even more pressure to clean up air pollution.

The rapidly growing industrial nations in the East remind the West that the West’s industrial wealth is mainly because they were able to pollute to their heart’s content.

Some industrialists in China claim: “It’s now our turn.”

Industry and the car have been pumping gases and solids into the sky to such an extent that they have altered the nature of the atmosphere.

Take carbon dioxide (CO2). It represents a mere 0.03 percent of the atmosphere’s gases – a three hundredth of one percent.

Yet it is the linchpin of the planet’s entire living system.

Plants absorb CO2 in order to convert sunlight into food. They then give off a “waste” gas called oxygen. We animals inhale the oxygen to stay alive. In turn we exhale CO2 which plants absorb. What an agreeable arrangement! It should be an article of survival not to mess around with it.

But we have. Over the last 250 years we have massively added to the amount of CO2. Plants can no longer absorb it all hence global warming.

Altering the nature of the atmosphere is historically the most dangerous thing we’ve done. It’s Mad Scientist stuff. Let’s hope the Durban conference clears the air a bit.


Esteemed Sir,

Last Friday’s Letter to the Stoep signed by “Tromp van D” must have brought a flood of memories to many older readers who will remember Tromp van Diggelen, South Africa’s strong man of the 1940/1950s. I used to see pictures of him in the Farmers’ Weekly tearing telephone books in half – but I doubt he would have used an arm to “smack ‘em in the mouth”. – Tony Caenazzo

Reply: No, no it was not from Tromp van Diggelen whom (or even who) I have been told was quite a gentle guy. The letter was from Tromp van Decreppenzeinderveldt-Schmidt of Upper Philippolis who asked me to hide his identity.



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