Water Supply and Use Loom Important As the Middle East Grapple with Climate-related Impacts

Elpidio V. Peria
7 September 2014

What’s left out in the international news concerning the Middle East are the difficulties communities face in the midst of a worsening water crisis that will soon be intensified by climate change prompting one think-tank in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME), the Cyprus Institute, to state that the EMME area has now become a global climate change “hot spot”.

In a regional climate assessment prepared by the Cyprus Institute using a regional climate model based on an intermediate emissions scenario, and predicted impacts on the environment, the research points towards substantial regional changes with significantly dryer and warmer conditions.

More specifically, the region is likely to warm at a much faster rate than the global mean rate of 2.8C by the end of the century with the mean temperature rise to be about 1.3C in the next three decades (that’s up to 2044), 3-5C by mid-century and 3.5-7C by the end of the century. In addition, there are likely to be extremely high summer temperatures.

Coupled with this sharp rate of increase in temperature is the expected decline of rain or precipitation in the north of the EMME region by 10-50% during the 21st century with rainfall primarily decreasing in spring and summer. The southern part of the EMME region may actually experience an increase in precipitation due to the expanding influence from the humid tropics, though this is modest in absolute terms.

If you think increased temperatures and less to zero rain would be all there is to it, the other impacts to watch out for, according to the regional climate assessment, are changes to air quality particularly desert dust and increased ozone smog and the inevitable human health concerns, particularly those that arise from increasing frequency of heat waves and increasing vector-borne infectious diseases ranging from malaria, West Nile Fever, Leishmaniasis to Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever.

These future impacts including current climate-related hazards and the vulnerabilities of the exposed rural households were among the topics tackled by the Middle East partners of Christian Aid from Palestine and Kurdistan, joined by other partners from Philippines, Cambodia and Bangladesh. during the Climate Learning Workshop held in Limassol, Cyprus, from 2 to 4 September 2014.

What was underlined with urgency during the workshop that needs to be addressed with dispatch is the worsening drought experienced by farmers and communities, not only in Kurdistan, but in Palestine, which is exacerbated by the apparently inhuman and overly aggressive control by the Israelis of the water resource use by the Palestinians – even the water being used for agriculture and those for human use needs to be cleared by the Israelis – this is something that should not be done by a fellow human being to another, but just the same it is being done, on a regular basis.

And here in General Santos City’s Seguil River, according to a study cited by Sr. Susan Bolanio, OND of OND HESED Foundation, a coal-fired power plant that is currently undergoing construction is set to use 2 or was it 1 million gallons of water every day to cool down the turbines that will generate electricity to provide for the economic development of SOCSARGEN.

Surely, that study on water use needs to be further verified further if such is the case but just the same, is it proper to use water in this manner when the City is not even sure where it may get its water once the groundwater on which it relies so much now for its needs will run out 2 or 3 decades from now? Apparently this was not clarified in the Climate Summit held in the City last July 31, 2014.

What is happening in the EMME region and projected well by the Cyprus Institute in its assessment is something that needs to be taken seriously by all, not only in the Middle East but in Southeast Asia and the Philippines as well.


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One Response to Water Supply and Use Loom Important As the Middle East Grapple with Climate-related Impacts

  1. hi ping! the situation in the middle east seems to be one of “ironic dilemma,” if such a phrase does exist. ironic because the world’s main source of fossil fuels for so many decades is now suffering from and will continue to suffer the most from the effects of the use of fossil fuel use, that is, global warming! no doubt, middle east oil helped to spurr the most massive and intense industrialization in the world’s histroy over the past century or so. such industrialization however, with its concomitant effects on the environment, is one of the biggest threats to the survival civilization itself as we know it. thus, middle eastern countries are faced with the dilemma of whether to support the increasingly urgent calls to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus allow the undermining of the very basis of their wealth and economic development! this is no easy choice for these countries as a downturn in their economies could lead to political crisis and unrest that would finally dethrone the long-entrenched ruling elites. but then, what choices do they really have as continuing with their present paths will result ultimately to the same much-feared political and economic conundrum. just as every other country needs to rethink its basic political-economic and environmental visions in light of climate change, even more is needed of the middle east countries where the options at hand are much more limited. nevertheless, the problem facing the middle east now, as pointed out here in this post, is simply part of the larger global and planetary crisis that faces us. thus, the only lasting solution has to be global in scope as well, and as the middle east considers a change in its path that can only truly happen when the world and every country is also changing its path towards planetary survival. thanks for this thought-inducing post . . .

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