In recent times, the Arab World has made considerable economic and social gains. However, the scourge of climate change remains a major threat to the poverty reduction and economic development efforts of the Arab world. The League of Arab States (LAS) recognizes the need to examine the extent and effects of climate change in the Arab region.
Consequently, the LAS has commissioned several research projects to help unravel the extent of climate change within its region. Climate changes have begun to be recorded in the Arab world with temperatures increasing by 0.3-0.4 degrees centigrade per decade. Experts have also predicted that the area that falls under the Mediterranean coast is expected to receive fewer rainfall levels in the future.
Reports indicate that most Arab nations are experiencing a considerable shortage in fresh water supply and this situation is expected to get worse as populations increase. Agricultural output is also expected to become worse as climate change takes its toll on the Arab world.
The demand for energy in the Arab world also acts as an accelerator for climate change. The Arab world is familiar with severe climatic conditions, but the situation has worsened in recent times. In the past, overgrazing was the most common cause of climate change, but in recent times, industrialization and human conflicts are its main contributors. This paper examines the impacts of climate change on the Arab world.
The Arab world is very vulnerable to climate change according to regional and global reports. It is also clear that global warming is most likely to have devastating effects on the arid and semi-arid Arab regions. Nevertheless, climate change has varying impacts on different regions within the Arab world.
The countries that are most affected by climate change include Djibouti, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, and Morocco. Djibouti is vulnerable to various aspects of climate change including tropical storms and flooding. A considerable portion of Djibouti’s population lives in areas that are less than five meters above sea level and this exposes them to the risk of flooding (Kenawy 277). Furthermore, the country is at constant risk of heat waves. Egypt’s risk of climate change is closely related to its high population levels.
Most of Egypt’s population is located along the River Nile and this puts several people under the threat of flooding. In addition, Egypt’s population is also at risk of suffering from the effects of a devastating famine. In Iraq, famines, flooding, and acute water shortages are some of the most drastic effects of climate change. Countries in the Persian Gulf are also exposed to the effects of climate change.
Another significant impact of climate change in the Arab world involves water. Throughout history, most Arab nations have suffered from water availability and access problems. The United Nations “classifies the Arab world as an area of extreme water scarcity because its water production is under one thousand cubic meters per capita of annual supply” (Arnell 35). The Arab world is one of the few regions where countries utilize over forty percent of their existing water resources.
Statistics indicate that adverse climatic conditions are expected to strain water resources even further. Water supply within the Arab world is expected to suffer the effects of global warming in a major way. The global precipitation models are constantly shifting and this is diminishing fresh water supplies in the Arab world.
Diminishing water supplies are expected to affect agricultural productivity in a major way. Most countries in the Gulf region subsidize their water supplies through desalination. The Arab world accounts for more than sixty percent of the world’s desalination projects. Nevertheless, adverse climatic conditions are increasing the levels of salinity in seawaters (Arnell 34).
Climate changes in the Arab World are also contributing to economic pressures in the countries that fall under this region. The Arab world is expected to face significant economic effects as a result of climate change. However, these impacts have a lesser short-term economic significance when they are compared to other disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes that are expected to hit other parts of the world.
Nevertheless, the Arab world is likely to suffer bigger economic losses in the long haul. Arab nations depend on resources such as oil and gas. In recent times, the world has embarked on a journey to combat climate changes by reducing the consumption of these two resources. If this goal is achieved, the economic fortunes of the Arab world are expected to dwindle significantly. The global shift towards renewable energy is expected to reduce the gross national product of most regions within the Arab world.
Furthermore, global environmental stakeholders have faulted some Arab nations for increasing the rate of carbon emissions through their mega industrial projects. The per capita carbon emissions of most countries within the Arab world are quite high. For instance, countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are noted to have extraordinary emissions of green house gases per capita (Al-Mebayedh 4).
The relationship between the economic prospects of the Arab world and climate changes is a tricky one. On the one hand, there are indications that the Arab world stands to lose from positive climate changes.
On the other hand, Arab countries are already experiencing economic losses as a result of adverse climatic changes. Nevertheless, most countries in the Arab world are investing their vast economic resources in renewable energy prospects. Consequently, the Arab world is securing its future economic prospects while combating climate change.
Climate changes have also been associated with several conflicts within the Arab world. Adverse climatic conditions such as water shortages have also been found to exacerbate existing tensions among populations residing in the Arab world (Al-Mebayedh 3). An example of a water-centered conflict was witnessed in Darfur where farmers and nomads fought for the right to use water resources.
This conflict started as a result of water shortages, but it degenerated into an ethnic war between Arab nomads and African farmers. Water-related conflicts in the Arab world have been common throughout the region’s history. Consequently, it is likely that climate changes might contribute to the re-emergence of some of the region’s historical conflicts.
The Arab world has been forced to adjust some of its social policies due to climate change. Most of these policy changes have been engineered to combat problems such as droughts, desertification, land degradation, and food shortages. Countries that have not instituted policies to deal with climate change are under pressure to do so. Some of the most popular climate change policies in the Arab world involve water pricing.
An example of a water pricing policy involves charging people for water in a bid to make them conscious of their usage. Another policy involves cutting back on water usage for agriculture-related practices within the Arab region. This policy-change takes into account the fact that agriculture accounts for approximately five percent of the gross domestic product in most Arab countries.
Also, agriculture accounts for a lot of water consumption in the desert-countries of the Arab world. Some global environmental policies have forced some countries to re-evaluate their carbon emissions. For instance, most countries in the Arab world have started to evaluate their waste management and mining policies so that they coincide with global interests (Al-Mebayedh 1).
Climate change has widened the gap between the poor and the rich in most Arab countries due to its disproportionate effects. Climate change has a bigger impact on the poor portion of the population than it has on rich one. For instance, water shortages and famines have a big impact on people with fewer economic resources. Climate change also makes it hard for citizens within the Arab world to achieve financial independence. Consequently, a big number of people are likely to remain under social welfare as a result of climate change.
Climate change has several impacts on the wellbeing of the Arab world. The Arab world is currently experiencing more tensions, water pressures, and food insecurity as a result of climate change. The Arab world has responded to climate change by looking into the future of energy sources, among other prospects.
Climate change has also prompted some Arab countries to institute new and change the existing climatic policies. The future of the Arab world is likely to be heavily influenced by climate change. Furthermore, the Arab world has consequently joined in the global efforts to combat climate change.
Al-Mebayedh, Hamad. “Climate Changes and Its Effects on the Arab Area.” APCBEE Procedia 5.1 (2013): 1-5. Print.
Arnell, Nigel W. “Climate change and global water resources: SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios.” Global environmental change 14.1 (2008): 31-52. Print.
Kenawy, Ezzat Moulouk. “Economic Impacts of Climate change on the Developing Countries particularly the Arab Countries.” Science 8.10 (2010): 277-284. Print.