Climate expert Johan van den Berg recently addressed the Northern Cape Red Meat Producers’ Organisation congress on the outlook for climatic conditions in the future, and how to manage the associated risks. He highlighted the differences between climate change and climate variability and suggested how farmers could factor this into their planning, according to Farmer’s Weekly.
Climate change is a permanent departure from the average or mean, whether it is warmer, cooler, wetter or drier.
It can also be defined as changes that occur due to human activities, such as increased levels of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Climate variability, on the other hand, is variation around the mean or average. This can occur in regular cycles over the years, or it can occur more randomly without any specific patterns.
It is also possible that climate change can affect climate variability by increasing the frequency of extreme climatic events.
Climate variability is responsible for most of the variation seen in the climate. Up until recently, climate change has had a significantly smaller impact.
To an extent, climate variability can be managed by using climate statistics to determine the real risks involved.
In South Africa, climate variability has been responsible for periods of surplus grain production, as well as periods of poor production during which grains have had to be imported.
This variability can be managed through sound farming decisions based on long-term planning that takes climate statistics into account. It is essential to have a long-term (more than five-year) plan to manage the risk of adverse climatic events.
Source: Farmer’s Weekly