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Up until fairly recently, our planet was able to maintain a harmonious ecological balance and support diverse forms of life. But human intervention, driven by profit and greed rather than the well-being of the planet, has deeply impacted the earth’s ecosystems, and we may soon be paying the cost of this shortsightedness.

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Climate changes caused by human activity will continue to increase, and it is the hottest regions of the world which are going to suffer the most for it. Syria has already been affected by such changes, as evinced by their 2011 crisis.

In fact the Syrian crisis that started in 2011 was just the beginning, warn researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia, who have been busy studying the climate change occurring in North Africa and the Middle East. They argue that the Paris climate change agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C, may be too little, too late for these regions, which are set to become unendurably hot.

The study suggests that the temperature during summer in these already hot regions will increase more than two times faster compared to the average global warming. What’s worse, these extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case just 16 years ago.

The official statement by the director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany reads as follows: “In future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy.”

Prof. Lelieveld and his colleagues have recently released a report in a climatic change journal where they used a computer model to understand the climate changes taking place in the MENA region.

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Global warming clearly affects different regions in different ways, with many areas seeing warmer than usual winters, and the trend for Middle Eastern regions like Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, remains steady, with temperatures increasing at exponential rates.

Between 1986 and 2005, these regions experienced approximately 16 extremely hot days per year, but now the number could be as high as 80. It is believed that by the year 2040, that number could increase to 118 days, even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

Panos Hadjinicolaou, an associate professor at the Cyprus Institute who co-authored the report, notes: “If mankind continues to release carbon dioxide as it does now, people living in the Middle East and North Africa will have to expect about 200 unusually hot days, according to the model projections.”

Prof. Lelieveld and his co-authors from the Cyprus Institute also published a study in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Journal which showed that soil in Middle Eastern countries, including Syria and Iraq, have become much drier, resulting in a 70%  increase in dust emissions since the onset of 21st century. The researchers warn of harsh summers and unstable conditions to come.

Dr. Lelieveld warns that if there is total temperature rise of just 2°c on Earth, inhabitants of these regions will be in great jeopardy:

By mid-century, during the warmest periods, temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees at night, and during daytime they could rise to 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit). By the end of the century, midday temperatures on hot days could even climb to 50 degrees Celsius (approximately 122 degrees Fahrenheit). Another finding: Heat waves could occur ten times more often than they do now.

Unfortunately, it is the poor who, unable to escape to comfortable air conditioned homes, will suffer the most from these changes, as their livelihood depends on their access to water and on the health of their crops and livestock.


 

Sources:

Thanks To Climate Change, The Middle East And North Africa Are Basically Screwed (IFL Science)

High temperatures will make much of Middle East, North Africa unlivable (Middle East Eye)

Searing heat may spark North Africa, Middle East exodus (Climate Change News)

Climate change could make parts of the Middle East and North Africa ‘uninhabitable’ (Independent)