The Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) response, adaptation, and mitigation methods to the region’s climate change are collectively called “climate change in the MENA region.” The MENA region produced 8.7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in 2018 and released 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, although having only 6% of the global population. Due to the substantial oil and natural gas reserves in the Middle East and North Africa, the energy industry is primarily responsible for these emissions. The Middle East is one area that is more susceptible to climate change. Here are ways in which climate change is affecting the Middle East.
How is Climate Change affecting the Middle East?
Flooding in the Desert
Flooding has occurred in some of the region’s driest areas. Since the late 1960s, flooding in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has occurred virtually yearly and was brought on by heavy storms. According to King Abdel Aziz University research, the city’s recent rapid growth contributed to the issue because water exit channels have been blocked. Before it reached Jeddah in November 2018, a catastrophic storm that swept across the Arabian Peninsula killed 30 people. Nearly 4,000 people had to leave their houses. Three persons lost their lives the prior month when Tropical Cyclone Luban hit Yemen and Oman.
Extreme Heat and Drought
In recent years, the MENA region has frequently broken temperature records. At Mitribah, Kuwait, the hottest temperature recorded in the region was 54°C in 2016. During the same week, 53.9°C was recorded at Basra, Iraq. Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, set a record high temperature of 50.4°C in June 2017. Authorities in Dubai warned motorists not to leave aerosols in their cars after several vehicles caught fire due to the intense heat. Since 1998, the area has experienced practically continual drought, and the current dry spell is the worst in 900 years, according to NASA.
Egypt’s Mediterranean coast includes Alexandria. The five-million-person city is collapsing as sea levels rise. Buildings close to Alexandria’s seaside Corniche have basement flooding, causing tragic collapses. In January 2019, an apartment building collapsed one street from the seafront, killing three individuals.
Alexandria is located on the Nile Delta, which is getting smaller. The Aswan High Dam’s construction and water extraction upstream have decreased the Nile’s flow, which has reduced the quantity of silt in the river dumps. The entire region is disappearing since there isn’t any silt to restore the delta soils.
Food insecurity in the Middle East is anticipated to worsen due to desertification because agriculture uses most of the water there. For instance, 60 to 80 percent of the water supply is used for agriculture in half of the area surrounding the Mediterranean. Increased heat waves and droughts are already negatively influencing wheat production, a critical Middle Eastern food staple; this trend threatens to spread to other crops and food sources.
The region of the Middle East is one of the most vulnerable to climate change because of the emissions from the energy sector, which is an integral component of many Middle Eastern and North African economies due to the extensive oil and natural gas reserves found within the region.