My colleagues and I have developed and verified a multi-year, regional, hydrometeorological prediction model. Last year my article titled Likelihood of a Global Drought in 2009 - 2016 was published in the South African Civil Engineer, circulation 8,000. The drought has just started in parts of South Africa.

On 12 August our Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs announced that parts of the lower Limpopo River catchment have been declared a water supply disaster area. This is in the far northern region of South Africa. The Albasini Dam that supplies the Louis Trichardt area is only 26 percent full. The Middle Letaba Dam is only 6 percent full.

On Sunday 16 August, prayers for rain were held in George, which is in the southern coastal area of South Africa. The dams in this region are also at a very low level. These two events not only confirm my prediction but also the views of others that global climatic disturbances are on the way. How will they affect the Copenhagen discussions and beyond?

Our predictions were based on observation theory applied to a wealth of hydrometeorological data. The essence was the presence of statistically significant, 95 percent, 21-year periodicity in the data. The periodicity is synchronous with variations in solar activity. This provided the causal relationships but was not necessary for the predictions. These were based solely on the observed periodicity in the data, whatever its cause.

Despite a prolonged and thorough study we were unable to detect any unexplained anomalies in the data that could be attributed to human activities. It is unlikely that our studies will influence the Copenhagen discussions, but hopefully all those participating in the discussions will have the sense to consider the likely future consequences regardless of the outcome of the discussions.

Recall the United Nations Secretary General's recent appeal. We have just four months to secure the future of our planet. If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest - even violence - could follow.

It is an all or nothing declaration with no room for uncertainties or degrees of probability. There is no way whatsoever that any emissions control measures that the world undertakes can meaningfully reduce the future occurrence of extreme floods, droughts, and threats to water resources. These are as inevitable as night follows the day. Now consider the consequences when these climatic extremes occur in the years ahead.

Here in South Africa with our economic problems, unemployment and poverty what will be the social and political consequences of the unfulfilled assurances? What will be the consequences in the African countries to the north of us? They have neither the finances nor the scientific expertise to evaluate the measures that will be agreed to at Copenhagen. Like many other nations, they rely on the knowledge and integrity of the developed nations of the world who insist that these measures be implemented.

What about the international relations, particularly the reaction of those nations that have been forced to adopt stringent emissions control measures, which the subsequent events will demonstrate are fruitless? Also, what about all those countries that accepted the IPCC recommendations in good faith? What about the universal perception of science as an honourable profession?

The assumption that large financial donations from the affluent countries will solve these difficulties is nonsensical. In my position as a member of United Nations Scientific and Technical Committee Natural Disasters we discussed all these possible preventative and adaptation measures in detail.
The problems have not yet been solved. This United Nations body is still functioning. It will serve no purpose to duplicate its work based on decades of experience with the nonsensical proposals that we see in the climate change literature.

If no agreement is reached at Copenhagen, this will not solve the problem. It will only worsen it. The whole climate change issue will become a blame game where the developed nations blame the developing nations for the breakdown and its consequences. The threats to international trade and cooperation in other fields are obvious.

Other Developments In South Africa

South Africa is still in the process of finalising its policy ahead of Copenhagen, but always within economic constraints. Authorities have just announced that South Africa will still have to build many more coal-fired power stations. In another article on the same date it was stated that South Africa needs 40 new coal mines to prevent electricity shortages over the long term.

Last week our national electricity supplier announced that five new projects have been put on ice due to financial difficulties. Commentators said that this may deepen South Africa's recession, halt opportunities in employment creation, and affect supplies of cement, steel and other commodities. Three of the abandoned projects are a pumped storage project, a solar power plant, and a wind farm. These were to contribute to South Africa's reduction in the use of coal for power generation. These objectives are now indefinitely postponed.

There is no pre-Copenhagen legislation in the pipeline. No present or future South African government would dare introduce legislation that had a negative economic impact. No African government would accept promises of financial assistance in exchange for the implementation of emissions control measures. We have heard them all before. The prospects of success at Copenhagen are increasingly remote. We should now concern ourselves with the issues beyond Copenhagen.