CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
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 2.8C by the end of the century with the mean temperature rise to be about 1.3C in the next three decades (that’s up to 2044), 3-5C by mid-century and 3.5-7C 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.