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Arab world to bear brunt of climate change—World Bank

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the high-level segment of the annual UN climate talks involving environment ministers and climate officials from nearly 200 countries, in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. A World Bank report said on Wednesday Global warming will have dire consequences for the Middle East and North Africa, with even hotter and drier conditions devastating everything from agriculture to tourism. AP PHOTO/OSAMA FAISAL

DOHA—Global warming will have dire consequences for the Middle East and North Africa, with even hotter and drier conditions devastating everything from agriculture to tourism, a World Bank report said on Wednesday.

On current trends, average temperatures in Arab countries are likely to rise by as much as three degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2050 – and double that for night-time temperatures, said the report released at UN climate talks in Doha.

Rainfall in the region with the world’s lowest endowment of fresh water is projected to become even more unreliable, and flash floods more frequent.

“The climate of Arab countries will experience unprecedented extremes,” warned the report.

“Temperatures will continue to reach record highs, and in many places there will be less rainfall. Water availability will be reduced, and with a growing population the already water-scarce region may not have sufficient supplies to irrigate crops, support industry, and provide drinking water.

“Climate change will not only challenge the status quo: it will threaten the basic pillars of development.”

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries are gathered in the Qatari capital to thrash out a deal on reducing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions and provide funding to help developing nations, many in this region, deal with a changing climate.

The United Nations is targeting a global warming limit of two degrees Celsius from industrial age levels, but several reports have recently warned that Earth is heading for double this on current emissions trends.

The World Bank said climate change has, or soon will, affect most of the 340 million people in the Arab region – but the 100 million poorest, with fewer resources to adapt, will feel it most.

It will affect livelihoods – causing a cumulative drop in household incomes of about seven percent in Syria and Tunisia and 24 percent in Yemen, said the report.

All but six Arab countries already suffer from water scarcity, which is defined as less than 1,000 cubic meters (264,200 gallons) of water per person per year.

Climate change is expected to reduce water runoff by another 10 percent by 2050, while demand will grow by 60 percent.

On top of water scarcity and even more scorching temperatures, farmers will also have to contend with saline intrusion from the sea, new pests and a drop in soil fertility, said the report.

The current rate of increase in agricultural production is likely to slow over the next few decades, and may start to decline after about 2050.

“This is alarming because almost half of the Arab region’s population lives in rural areas, and 40 percent of employment is derived from agriculture.”

Tourism will also suffer.

Contributing about $50 billion dollars (38 billion euros) to the Arab region’s purse today, about three percent of its gross domestic product and six percent of employment, the sector is likely to be hard hit once tourists start opting for milder climes.

“Snowfall in Lebanon (for skiing), Red Sea coral reefs, and many ancient monuments across the region are threatened by climate change and severe weather,” said the World Bank.

Higher temperatures also pose serious health risks as vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue are introduced to new areas, and malnutrition rises as food becomes scarcer.

The report urged urgent political intervention to ensure climate adaptation plans were integrated into all national policies.

Governments must collect climate data, promote more effective farmland management, fund research into drought resistant crops and invest in waste-water treatment plants, it said.

“As the climate becomes ever more extreme, so will its impacts on people’s livelihoods and well-being,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region.

“The time to take actions at both the national and regional level in order to increase climate resilience is now.”


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Tags: Climate change , Global warming , Middle east , North Africa , UN , World Bank

  • tomtom55

    quote:
    The report urged urgent political intervention to ensure climate adaptation plans were integrated into all national policies.
    Governments must collect climate data, promote more effective farmland management, fund research into drought resistant crops and invest in waste-water treatment plants, it said.
    unquote:
    people in the government ask yourself: dati hindi naman binabagyo ang mindanao, bakit ngayon binabagyo na?
    2050 is still a long way to go. you have enough time.

    • kanoy

       funny too is whats good today can kill you tomorrow,,,,,take diesel for instance,,,,they claimed upon invention it was cleaner burning than gas,,,,most switched,,,,today though is diesel fumes cause cancer,,,,ban the jeepney? never

  • Guest

    The funny thing though is, when there is a relatively heavy rain, it causes flood in a city in a all in all arid climate as Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah had seen in 2009 and 2011. They have lots of oil money but cannot even build a decent canalization and drainage (maybe it is not even really their priority).

    No, this climate change, which has happened throughout earth history, cannot be reversed anymore even if the CO2-emissions would be reduced by 100% immediately. Stunningly, some still believe it can be undone as if mankind can stop nature. The only think we can do is, adopting to the changes and adopt the respective infrastructure. If mankind fails to do so, then it is doomed to fail.

  • opinyonlangpo

    Most of the locals in that area live in the comfort of their own homes, courtesy of abundance in oil. They also have the option to run away during summer and come back when the weather is better. Most of the outdoor jobs are given to the expatriates and they are the ones to bear the brunt of climate change.

    • harvardcubao

      Their oil supplies will eventually run low. The expatriates will return to their home countries. In the long term, fresh water is better than oil because fresh water can be more easily be replenished.

      • kanoy

         6000 items are made from petroleum

      • opinyonlangpo

        They have been telling that for the last fifty years or more, nonetheless revenue from oil can buy water and desalination plants and lots of other amenities. People from countries with only abundant in water goes to work and serve the people abundant in oil. Its a sort of sour graping, it won’t run out in the near future and even if it runs out the people in those countries would already have established themselves somewhere else comfortable.



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