Impact of climate change and climate variability on the occurrence of extreme climate events: opportunities for social sciences research in southern Africa

SOURCE: Scientific Reports
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2013
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.L.H.Mabaso
KEYWORDS: CLIMATE CHANGE, RESEARCH, SOUTHERN AFRICA
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Capabilities (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8235
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2391

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Abstract

A growing sense of urgency has brought the problem of climate change and variability high up on the research agenda of natural sciences. Despite social drivers and societal impacts of climatic related extremes the social dimension of climate change and vulnerability has received little research attention. In southern Africa as in many other parts of Africa climate change and variability threaten human and social development and are projected to impede the realization of the global millennium goals. This paper gives an overview of the societal impacts of extreme climatic event exacerbated by existing social conditions, which includes the vicious cycle of poverty, pre-existing disease burden, social inequalities and marginalization reflecting household vulnerability, inadequate coping capacity and risk of severe consequences. Key priorities and opportunities for social sciences research in southern African countries are highlighted. The significance of social sciences research for improved understanding of social risk factors and conditions that make social systems vulnerable to climate change and variability related extreme events are discussed. The need for interdisciplinary research framework that integrates relevant information and approaches from both social and natural sciences is accentuated.