Exploring ethical challenges, climate change and implications on land and water use within the agricultural sector of the Garden Route, Western Cape, South Africa

Steyn, Cornelia Johanna (2013-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Climate change creates both risks and opportunities worldwide. By understanding, planning for and adapting to a changing climate, individuals and societies can take advantage of these opportunities and reduce risks where possible. The consequences of climate variability and climate change are potentially more significant for activities that depend on local weather and climatic conditions. The Garden Route in the Western Cape (southern region), is an agricultural region that is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and climate variables; if these climatic conditions should change, productivity levels and livelihoods would be directly affected. This study examined how farmers’ perceptions of weather conditions have corresponded with the climatic data recorded at various meteorological stations in the Garden Route, South Africa, and whether these perceptions could be linked to an understanding of the ethical implications of climate change or not. Through the use of indepth interviews, the study analysed farmers’ adaptive responses, their perceptions and understanding of climate change, and their perceptions and understanding of the ethical challenges posed by climate change. The Heckman Probit Adaptation Model was used to examine perception and adaptation to climate change and climate variability. Main constraints cited by farmers in changing their ways of farming and adapting to climate change were obtaining rights to increasing their water storage capacities (increasing dam walls or building dams), flood water management, cash flow and financial support, obtaining permits to burn, and general support from official structures. Furthermore this study implemented a scenario-planning exercise to determine adaptation trends in the observed and projected climate for the Garden Route, with the aim of providing possible solutions for wiser agricultural practices. The following scenarios were compared: (1) If agricultural practices continue as per status quo – with no change in climatic conditions; (2) If agricultural patterns are significantly modified, to reduce agricultural impact on local biodiversity – with no change in climatic conditions; (3) If agricultural practices continue as per status quo – with significant change in climatic conditions; and (4) If agricultural practices are significantly modified, to reduce agricultural impact on local biodiversity, and taking account of likely changes in climatic conditions. The analyses – according to these four scenarios – indicated the likelihood of possible trends in future, using specific climate variables, together with possible adaptation strategies. With no change in climatic conditions, but a change in farming practices towards environmental protection, the farming sector may achieve sustainability. However, if climatic conditions should change, changes in farming practices may not be enough to guarantee its sustainability. Farmers in the Garden Route indicated that agricultural production on any scale is completely dependent on water, leaving this sector exposed and vulnerable posing substantial obstacles to farmers to continue farming in the same way. Farmers are now faced with the decision to “adapt or die”. The convergence of these factors has the potential to create a “perfect moral storm”. One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, farmers still may find it difficult to articulate what this moral storm could entail, and how to act upon it.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Klimaatsverandering skep wêreldwyd beide risiko’s en geleenthede. Deur klimaatsverandering te verstaan, daarvoor te beplan en daarby aan te pas, kan individue en gemeenskappe hierdie geleenthede aangryp en, waar moontlik, die risiko’s verlaag. Die gevolge van klimaatskommelings en klimaatverandering is potensieel meer betekenisvol vir daardie aktiwiteite wat afhanklik is van plaaslike weer- en klimaatstoestande. Die landboustreek in die Tuinroete in die Wes-Kaap (suidelike streek) is gevoelig vir die impak van klimaatsverandering en klimaatskommelings; indien klimaatstoestande verander, sal produktiwiteitsvlakke en lewenskwaliteit direk beïnvloed word. Hierdie studie het ondersoek ingestel na die ooreenkoms tussen boere se persepsie van klimaatsverandering, en die klimaatsdata by verskeie meteorologiese stasies in die Tuinroete, Suid-Afrika en of hierdie persepsies verbind kan word aan 'n begrip van die etiese implikasies van klimaatsverandering of nie. By wyse van indiepte onderhoude het die studie boere se aanpassingmeganismes, hul persepsies en begrip van klimaatsverandering, asook hul persepsies en begrip van die etiese uitdagings van klimaatsverandering ontleed. Die Heckman Probit Aanpassings-Model is gebruik om die persepsie en aanpassing by klimaatsverandering en klimaatskommelings te bepaal. Boere het die volgende as die vernaamste struikelblokke in die verandering in landboupraktyke en aanpassing by klimaatsverandering beskou: a) verkryging van toestemming om wateropgaarkapasiteit te verhoog (die bou of verhoging van damme); b) vloedbestuur; c) kontantvloei en finansiële ondersteuning; d) verkryging van brandpermitte; en e) algemene ondersteuning vanaf amptelike instansies. Voorts het hierdie studie scenario-beplanning gebruik om tendense in die aanpassing by die waargenome en voorspelde klimaatsverandering in die Tuinroete te bepaal. Die doel hiervan is om moontlike oplossings vir beter landboupraktyke te verskaf. Die volgende scenario’s is met mekaar vergelyk: (1) Indien landboupraktyke voortgaan soos gewoonlik (status quo) – geen verandering in klimaatstoestande; (2) Indien landbou betekenisvol verander om die impak van landbou op plaaslike biodiversiteit te verlaag – geen verandering in klimaatstoestande; (3) Indien landboupraktyke voortgaan soos gewoonlik (status quo) – betekenisvolle verandering in klimaatstoestande; en (4) Indien landbou betekenisvol verander om die impak van landbou op plaaslike biodiversiteit te verlaag – met inagneming van moontlike veranderings in klimaatstoestande. By wyse van die vier scenario’s dui die analise moontlike toekomstige tendense aan deur gebruik te maak van spesifieke klimaatskommelings, tesame met moontlike aanpassingstrategieë. Met geen verandering in die klimaatstoestand kan die landbousektor volhoubaar wees indien landboupraktyke verander en omgewingsbeskerming in ag neem. Indien klimaatstoestande egter verander, mag gewysigde landboupraktyke nie genoeg wees om die volhoubaarheid daarvan te verseker nie. Boere in die Tuinroete het aangedui dat enige skaal van landbouproduksie geheel en al van water afhanklik is, wat hierdie sektor blootgestel en kwesbaar maak, en ‘n groot struikelblok is indien boere op dieselfde wyse bly boer. Boere is nou onderworpe aan die besluit om aan te pas of onder te gaan. Die sameloop van al hierdie faktore het die potensiaal om die “perfekte morele storm” te ontketen. Een gevolg van hierdie storm is dat, alhoewel ander moeilike etiese kwessies rondom klimaatsverandering beantwoord sou kon word, boere dit nog steeds moeilik mag vind om dié morele storm te omskryf en hoe om hierop te reageer.

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