Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Deadly Heat to Come (2)


At the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, the Middle East and North Africa region will suffer scorching heatwaves and impossible living conditions. The Middle East and North Africa is already the hottest and driest region on the planet but climate change could make some areas uninhabitable in the coming decades with temperatures potentially reaching 60 degrees Celsius or higher.

The repercussions throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region would be devastating including chronic water shortages, the inability to grow food because of extreme weather and resulting drought, and a surge in heat-related deaths and health problems.

By 2100 about 600 million inhabitants, or 50 percent of the population of the region, may be exposed to “super-extreme” weather events if current greenhouse gas projections hold, one recent study in the journal Nature noted.

Lasting weeks or even months, the scorching heat would be “potentially life-threatening for humans”, it said. “We anticipate that the maximum temperature during … heatwaves in some urban centres and megacities in the MENA could reach or even exceed 60 °C, which would be tremendously disruptive for society,” the scientists wrote.

George Zittis, lead author of the study, explained, “Heat stress during summers will reach or exceed the thresholds of human survivability, at least in some parts of the region and for the warmest months.”

“Cities will feel an increasing heat island effect and most capital cities in the Middle East could face four months of exceedingly hot days every year,” according to the World Bank.

More than 12 million people in Syria and Iraq are losing access to water, food and electricity because of rising temperatures, record low levels of rainfall, and drought, which are depriving people across the region of drinking and agricultural water. Syria is currently facing its worst drought in 70 years. Aid groups described the situation as an “unprecedented catastrophe”.

Water scarcity will also be a financial burden with estimates suggesting MENA will suffer the most of any region around the world, costing governments 7-14 percent of their gross domestic product by 2050. The agricultural sector, which provides the most jobs in the Middle East and North Africa, could be devastated with water availability declining by as much as 45 percent. Food production is expected to suffer severely as a result with about one-third of the arable land scorched by extreme heat.

Without greenhouse gas emissions urgently and rapidly declining, the situation in the MENA region will be a grim one in the decades to come.

Increasing water shortages have already been blamed for igniting regional conflicts, and some researchers fear that fighting over scarce resources will intensify throughout the Middle East and North Africa as the world heats up further.

“When an estimated 600 million people are faced with life-threatening heatwaves [and] subsequent food and water shortages … the only way to survive is to head for cooler, resource-abundant and still thriving parts of the world,” wrote Hafed al-Ghwell from the Foreign Policy Institute at John Hopkins University.

Extreme hotspot: What 60C means for the Middle East | Climate Crisis News | Al Jazeera

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