10 facts to get you hot about Middle East climate change

Published December 3rd, 2015 - 06:57 GMT

The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference is underway in Paris aiming to forge a binding environmental agreement that involves all nations. At its core is the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level that keeps the planet’s mean temperature below a 2°C increase (compared to pre-industrial times). It's a race against the clock.

This is the first year global temperatures rose 1°C higher than the historic average. But only 26% of us in the Middle East are worried about global warming, said a recent Pew Research Study. We hope these facts change that.

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Middle East climate change

The Middle East will be uninhabitable by the end of this century if we don't cut CO2 emissions, so say a growing number of climate change scientists. This summer’s extreme heat will become the norm, with temperatures of 60°C commonplace. Sound implausible? Recall the 4-day “health holiday” imposed in Iraq during the July 2015 heat wave.

desertification

Go outside for more than 6 hours and die, says a report published in Nature Climate Change that foretells a punishing near-future MENA climate. You could stay indoors, but likely starve. Prolonged dry seasons will change river systems and regional food production, increasing demand for irrigation and decreasing lands for livestock grazing.

Middle East drought

A 2009 drought forced 800,000 Syrian farmers and herdsmen off their lands, says the UN. Around that same time, Syrians drilled thousands of illegal wells, drastically lowering the national ground water supply. An estimated 177 million-acre feet of water disappeared, an irretrievable resource, and the world's second-largest loss of aquifer.

climate change and civil unrest

Some analysts tag drought as a key contributor to the destabilization of Iraq and Syria, fueling a conflict from which DAESH emerged, causing knock-on regional trouble. Climate change didn't cause the conflict, but it did make Syria more vulnerable to uprising, says a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dubai dust storm

Conditioned air helps us cope with intense heat and makes modern life in Arab Gulf cities possible. But an artificial living environment isn't accessible to everyone. Workers building Qatar's 2022 World Cup facilities and mega-projects in the UAE now face extreme health risks under current weather conditions. What happens when you add 20°C more?

dust storm

Expect more intense dust storms. Dry land degrades when a region becomes more arid, losing its water, vegetation and wildlife. Add wind, and dust travels fast and far. "Research is increasingly showing that for growing crops and working outside, most of us are now at or above the optimal temperature," geoscientist Richard Alley wrote to Mic.

snow in Jerusalem

A rare snowfall blanketed Jerusalem last February when a storm dumped 10 inches on the city. Historically, the city sees an average of just four inches a year. The storm system spread throughout the Middle East, crippling the West Bank, parts of Lebanon, and the Jordanian capital of Amman. Climate change doesn't just mean hotter and drier.

Egypt flash floods

Torrential rain fell in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt in October, killing at least seven people. In two days 246mm of rain fell in Marmaris on the south coast, five times as much as normal for the entire month of October. The UN warns that a 25 cm sea level rise would displace 60% of Alexandria’s population of 4 million.

Jordan floods

Are we ready? Last month, extreme rainfall overpowered storm water systems across Jordan causing widespread flash floods. Amman authorities dealt with 500 incidents of water pumping across the capital in one day, rescuing 698 people and 305 vehicles stranded in high water. Two children drowned in a basement apartment, divers retrieved the bodies.

Jeddah floods

Who's to blame? Two men were jailed following a Saudi Arabian corruption crackdown after deadly floods hit Jeddah in 2009 and 2011. The deluges killed more than 100 people, stirring accusations that corrupt officials had allowed residential neighborhoods to be built in flood-prone areas, ultimately prompting a government investigation.

Iraq flash floods

Crumbling infrastructure turns bad to worst. Iraq was hard hit by recent weather, with at least 58 people killed in flash floods this month, according to the country's health ministry. People across the country were trapped in homes after floods mixed with sewage overpowered the country's outdated drainage systems. A cholera outbreak ensued.

Middle East climate change
desertification
Middle East drought
climate change and civil unrest
Dubai dust storm
dust storm
snow in Jerusalem
Egypt flash floods
Jordan floods
Jeddah floods
Iraq flash floods
Middle East climate change
The Middle East will be uninhabitable by the end of this century if we don't cut CO2 emissions, so say a growing number of climate change scientists. This summer’s extreme heat will become the norm, with temperatures of 60°C commonplace. Sound implausible? Recall the 4-day “health holiday” imposed in Iraq during the July 2015 heat wave.
desertification
Go outside for more than 6 hours and die, says a report published in Nature Climate Change that foretells a punishing near-future MENA climate. You could stay indoors, but likely starve. Prolonged dry seasons will change river systems and regional food production, increasing demand for irrigation and decreasing lands for livestock grazing.
Middle East drought
A 2009 drought forced 800,000 Syrian farmers and herdsmen off their lands, says the UN. Around that same time, Syrians drilled thousands of illegal wells, drastically lowering the national ground water supply. An estimated 177 million-acre feet of water disappeared, an irretrievable resource, and the world's second-largest loss of aquifer.
climate change and civil unrest
Some analysts tag drought as a key contributor to the destabilization of Iraq and Syria, fueling a conflict from which DAESH emerged, causing knock-on regional trouble. Climate change didn't cause the conflict, but it did make Syria more vulnerable to uprising, says a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dubai dust storm
Conditioned air helps us cope with intense heat and makes modern life in Arab Gulf cities possible. But an artificial living environment isn't accessible to everyone. Workers building Qatar's 2022 World Cup facilities and mega-projects in the UAE now face extreme health risks under current weather conditions. What happens when you add 20°C more?
dust storm
Expect more intense dust storms. Dry land degrades when a region becomes more arid, losing its water, vegetation and wildlife. Add wind, and dust travels fast and far. "Research is increasingly showing that for growing crops and working outside, most of us are now at or above the optimal temperature," geoscientist Richard Alley wrote to Mic.
snow in Jerusalem
A rare snowfall blanketed Jerusalem last February when a storm dumped 10 inches on the city. Historically, the city sees an average of just four inches a year. The storm system spread throughout the Middle East, crippling the West Bank, parts of Lebanon, and the Jordanian capital of Amman. Climate change doesn't just mean hotter and drier.
Egypt flash floods
Torrential rain fell in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt in October, killing at least seven people. In two days 246mm of rain fell in Marmaris on the south coast, five times as much as normal for the entire month of October. The UN warns that a 25 cm sea level rise would displace 60% of Alexandria’s population of 4 million.
Jordan floods
Are we ready? Last month, extreme rainfall overpowered storm water systems across Jordan causing widespread flash floods. Amman authorities dealt with 500 incidents of water pumping across the capital in one day, rescuing 698 people and 305 vehicles stranded in high water. Two children drowned in a basement apartment, divers retrieved the bodies.
Jeddah floods
Who's to blame? Two men were jailed following a Saudi Arabian corruption crackdown after deadly floods hit Jeddah in 2009 and 2011. The deluges killed more than 100 people, stirring accusations that corrupt officials had allowed residential neighborhoods to be built in flood-prone areas, ultimately prompting a government investigation.
Iraq flash floods
Crumbling infrastructure turns bad to worst. Iraq was hard hit by recent weather, with at least 58 people killed in flash floods this month, according to the country's health ministry. People across the country were trapped in homes after floods mixed with sewage overpowered the country's outdated drainage systems. A cholera outbreak ensued.