Research has shown that the animal kingdom has an inherent ability to ‘shapeshift’ to adapt to climate change. Yet humans appear to be more obstinate when it comes to adaptation. Over the last ten to fifteen years, scientists, environmental activists, and researchers have done their best to influence a shift in human behaviour and a more conscious consumption of natural resources. Local farmers have shared their plight during serious drought and an overall decline in crop yields, whilst artisanal fishermen have cited warmer ocean currents as a primary factor in the depletion of their daily hauls. Yet most of these appeals continue to fall on deaf ears.
The recent devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal highlighted the real threat posed by climate change, which in recent years has led to an increasing number of extreme weather events across the country. A recent report commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)[i] suggests that this trend is likely to worsen, as inland areas of South Africa continue to warm up at about twice the global rate. However, our ability to modify our behaviour appropriately remains decidedly limited.
Ironically, South Africans were quick to adapt when faced with a global pandemic, and turned en masse to baking bread, brewing their own beer, and planting food gardens in a bid to establish a semblance of normality when reality hit a little too close to home. However, when it comes to climate change, we need to adapt before it’s too late if we’re to avoid another seismic shift in life as we know it.
Here are a few easy modifications and preemptive steps you can take to keep you, your family, and your belongings safe:
Drive less – join a carpool
Not only can joining a carpool significantly reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also save you money and reduce the frustration of rush hour traffic. Over and above the obvious financial benefits of a shared petrol bill, carpooling is also good for your wellbeing, enabling meaningful conversations on your way to work. When deciding to carpool, please liaise with your insurer to ensure that you have the applicable insurance cover.
Cover your bases
When it comes to wild weather, preparation is the key to success. It’s worth carrying out a series of pre-winter checks, making sure to clear your gutters, trim tree branches that could potentially cause damage and tend to any leaks in your walls and roof. We all love YouTube and TikTok tutorials, but please, if you’re not sure how to do the gutter checks or trimming of trees, call on an expert to advise you. Don’t take any chances.
If you’re in an area susceptible to winter rains, give your car a seasonal once-over, paying particular attention to windscreen wipers, tyre tread, lights, and brakes, and ensuring that you’re up to date with necessary maintenance checks. If you’re not a DIY expert, you’d be well advised to take your car to a dealership to ensure it’s ready for the rains.
Potholes are also an unfortunate consequence of heavy rains, so make sure to pay careful attention when driving during or shortly after periods of wet weather and contact your insurer to confirm that your policy makes provision for potential damage caused by potholes, which can be difficult to spot when roads are inundated.
Check your cover
Insurance is your investment in the longevity of the valuables you’ve saved up for and spent hard-earned money on. Insurance means you don’t need to spend the same amount of money twice. But only if you’ve got the right cover.
With the rainy season upon us, make sure your insurance policy offers you protection against water damage and destruction of property caused by flooding, storms, and heavy winds. While you’re at it, take time to review both your home and car insurance.
Those in typically dry areas should also give their insurance contracts a once-over, as increasingly lengthy periods without rainfall can make surrounding vegetation extremely susceptible to fires, which can cause significant damage especially when accompanied by strong winds.
Remember, when it comes to extreme climatic events, adaptation is better than the cure.
By making small shifts and taking the right preemptive measures, you can protect your investments and keep you living your way, no matter the weather.