The Middle East is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world

Temperatures in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean are rising almost twice as fast as the rest of the world, according to a new study, with far-reaching consequences for the health and well-being of the roughly 400 million people living in the region. .

The climate in countries such as Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia is projected to warm by about 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, the study said. Such a rapid increase will cause longer heat waves, more intense drought and frequent sandstorms from the beaches of Lebanon to the deserts of Iran.

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The changes will also affect vegetation and water resources, increasing the risk of armed conflict, the report said. It was first published in June in the Review of Geophysics, but was recently updated to include new global climate projections ahead of the UN climate summit in November.

The study’s authors, including researchers from the Cyprus Institute’s Climate and Atmospheric Research Center and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, blamed rising greenhouse emissions for the rise in temperatures in the region. The region’s arid landscapes and low water levels also make it more vulnerable to climate change, they said.

The Middle East has become the “dominant emitter” of greenhouse gases globally, surpassing both the European Union and India, according to Georgios Zittis, one of the report’s authors.

“In the EU, we’re seeing a downward trend in emissions, but that’s not the case in the Middle East,” Zittis said in a phone interview. Most countries in the region, he said, are committed to the 2015 Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global warming this century to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius).

The report highlights the imperative to “decarbonise” the energy and transport sectors in the Middle East with greater use of renewable energy, even as the economies of many countries in the region, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, rely heavily on “mineral fuel exploitation”.

The researchers found that summers in the region have become drier and that extreme rainfall and rainfall have occurred in less frequent but stronger eruptions. Heat waves will limit outdoor activities and affect key Mediterranean crops such as olives, wheat and barley.

Demand for fresh water will increase as the population grows and there is pressure on resources, the report says. According to Zittis, the region will likely see an increase in migration from rural to urban areas, either internally or across borders.

In southern Iraq, where temperatures have risen 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.8 degrees Celsius) over the past three decades, families have sold their belongings and moved to urban centers such as Basra, the region’s largest city.

Zittis says the transition will not be easy and that “multi-year droughts” and competition for resources will fuel conflict. “Where there is social instability, that could be a result of climate change,” he said.

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