On Sunday 17 March, against the background of the cyclone that was claiming lives and wreaking havoc in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, drought-affected communities from across South Africa gathered in a small room in Johannesburg. The stories were not a missive from our climate change future. They were a window into the country now.
"Boreholes are drying up. Birds are eating mammals. Wild animals are coming to our farms to eat."
This, then, was the face of climate change in South Africa, an upending of nature that was redolent of January's massive fish die-off in Australia, or the Antarctic temperatures that had killed students in February in the US Midwest. For Adam Mubanda of Giyani in Limpopo, a leading member of the Inyanda National Land Movement, the word for it was "pathetic": by which his expression suggested that he meant tragic and pitiful, as opposed to absurd or ridiculous, although he didn't deny the latter.
"As a movement, we do try to sensitise our people to climate change," Mubanda went on. "It's very unfortunate that people are so colonised in their minds that they believe that issues of climate are only known to God."
The occasion was a roundtable of drought-affected...