This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Climate Change Will Bring a Bigger Mess to the Middle East

Yesterday I discussed the fact that we now have climate change migrants in the U.S. On top of this is news that climate change could make parts of the Middle East uninhabitable, or even more uninhabitable, if you want to take account of the already large stretches of desert. Drought in Syria has been blamed for helping contribute to the civil war in that country, as I have discussed before.  But this new assessment generates concern about the fate of the entire region.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute say “very hot” days in the region have “doubled” since 1970.
"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," says Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute and Professor at the Cyprus Institute.
Keep in mind that the Max Planck Institutes house some of the very best German researchers, so we need to take this seriously.
The study also looked at the amount of “fine particulate air pollution” in the region and found that dust in the atmosphere over Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria jumped 70 percent since the start of the century. This, they say, could be due to an increase in the number of sand storms caused by climate change.
The researchers created two models -- one in which global temperatures are capped by reductions in greenhouse gases, and another, a “business as usual” model where nothing is done to stem climate change.
Under both scenarios, the future of the region is not good, they say, adding that “climate change can result in a significant deterioration of living conditions for people living in North Africa and the Middle East, and consequently, sooner or later, many people may have to leave the region.”
So, we have a situation where drought leads people to fight over one type of scarce resource--water--while the other scarce resource in the region--habitable land--is also being undermined. These developments will severely test the world's ability to put the region back together if and when the violence ends. 

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