Climate Change (I)
Will the Middle East Become ‘Uninhabitable’?
“It is further estimated that an additional 80–100 million people will be exposed by 2025 to water stress, which is likely to result in increased pressure on groundwater resources, which are currently being extracted in most areas beyond the aquifers’ recharge potential.”
In addition, agriculture yields, especially in rain fed areas, are expected to fluctuate more widely, ultimately falling to a significantly lower long-term average.
“In urban areas in North Africa, a temperature increase of 1-3 degrees could expose 6–25 million people to coastal flooding. In addition, heat waves, an increased “heat island effect,” water scarcity, decreasing water quality, worsening air quality, and ground ozone formation are likely to affect public health, and more generally lead to challenging living conditions.”
The World Bank report “Adaptation to Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa Region” warns that the Middle East and North Africa region is particularly vulnerable to climate change.
“It is one of the world’s most water-scarce and dry regions; with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture and a large share of its population and economic activity in flood-prone urban coastal zones.”
On the other hand, the report adds, societies of this region have been under pressure to adapt to water scarcity and heat for thousands of years, and have developed various technical solutions and institutional mechanisms to deal with these environmental constraints.
While global models predict sea levels rising from about 0.1 to 0.3 meters by the year 2050, and from about 0.1 to 0.9 meters by 2100, the World Bank says, for MENA, the social, economic, and ecological impacts are expected to be relatively higher compared to the rest of the world. Low-lying coastal areas in Tunisia, Qatar, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and specially Egypt are at particular risk.
Climate change also poses many challenges to the region’s cities, which represent hubs for economic, social, cultural and political activities. Rising sea level could affect 43 port cities—24 in the Middle East and 19 in North Africa, according to the World Bank study.
“In the case of Alexandria, Egypt, a 0.5 meter rise would leave more than 2 million people displaced, with 35 billion dollars in losses in land, property, and infrastructure, as well as incalculable losses of historic and cultural assets.”(TO BE CONTINUED)