The roasting of the Middle East: Infertile Crescent: More than war, climate change is making the region hard to live in. Or so says the Economist, Aug 6th 2016. I admit, I’m surprised. I’d put utterly crap government (which includes the current wars) top of their list of problems. Still, let’s see what TE has to say to justify its headline. Before that, some basic googling reveals what I already knew – that the idea is hardly new – and that Mike Hulme doesn’t believe it. This is also an excellent excuse to link to JF’s What happens to local weather/climate when cities tear out lawns?
“UNTIL the 1970s Basra’s climate was like southern Europe’s,” recalls Shukri al-Hassan, an ecology professor in the Iraqi port city. Basra, he remembers, had so many canals that Iraqis dubbed it the Venice of the Middle East. Its Shatt al-Arab river watered copious marshlands, and in the 1970s irrigated some 10m palm trees, whose dates were considered the world’s finest. But war, salty water seeping in from the sea because of dams, and oil exploration which has pushed farmers off their land, have taken their toll. Most of the wetlands and orchards are now desert. Iraq now averages a sand or dust-storm once every three days. Last month Basra’s temperature reached 53.9ºC (129°F), a record beaten, fractionally, only by Kuwait and California’s Death Valley—and the latter figure is disputed.
That’s their lead paragraph, and its a bad start: the chain of causation, such as they present, is the other way round: land-use changes, partly from war, have caused climate change.
Unlike other parts of the world where climate change has led to milder winters, in the Middle East it has intensified summer extremes, studies show. Daytime highs, notes an academic study published in the Netherlands in April, could rise by 7ºC by the end of the century.
Also a fail. That’s not about the present, that’s predictions for the future.
The UN’s Environmental Programme also estimates that the harsh climate claims 230,000 lives annually in west Asia (the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent), making it a bigger killer than war.
No clear connection to climate change. You get no points for saying that a hot desert is hot and inimical to life.
The region also has fewer coping mechanisms than before. Population increase has reduced the water supply…
Again: that’s not climate change. This is really rubbish stuff from the Economist, I expect rather better from them.
* Climate betting in the news again – JA
* Climate-related disasters raise conflict risk, study says – SkS. Probably true, but not the same thing. “Increasing the level of risk” is different from “is the main problem”.