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Climate Change Might Make the Arab World ‘Uninhabitable’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqis cool down from the scorching summer temperatures under public showers in Baghdad- AFP, Getty Images

London- Climate change will soon transform both North Africa and the Middle East into an uninhabitable zone. According to research conducted by the German Max Planck Society and the Cyprus Institute, the Arab world currently is experiencing unprecedented severe heat waves during summer.

According to the report, temperature will continue increasing; the number of hot summer days will also increase, in addition to a rise in the frequency of heat waves.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that despite the goal on limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, which has been agreed upon at the recent United Nations climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario.

Temperature during summer is already very hot in the Middle East and North Africa, and will increase over two times faster compared to the average global warming, researchers said.

This means that, during hot days, temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius by mid-century.

Temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees at night, and during daytime they could rise to 46 degrees Celsius, they said.

By the end of the century, midday temperatures on hot days could even climb to 50 degrees Celsius, researchers said.

Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than the case at the turn of the millennium. In combination with increasing air pollution by windblown desert dust, the environmental conditions could become intolerable and may force people to migrate, researchers said.

The Middle East and North Africa – a region which is very hot in summer and where climate change is already evident- the number of extremely hot days has doubled since 1970, they said.

“In future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy,” said Jos Lelieveld from Max Planck Institute.

Researchers studied how temperatures will develop in the Middle East and North Africa over the course of the 21st century.

Results are deeply alarming – even if Earth’s temperature were to increase on average by two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature in summer in the Arab world will increase more than two fold, researchers said. Heat waves could occur ten times more often than they do now.

In addition, the duration of heat waves in North Africa and the Middle East will extend dramatically, researchers said.

“If mankind continues to release carbon dioxide as it does now, people living in the Middle East and North Africa will have to expect about 200 unusually hot days, according to the model projections,” said Panos Hadjinicolaou from Cyprus Institute.