As I watch from my beautiful Middle Eastern perch at the top of Mt Carmel in Israel, I must ponder the interaction of the two greatest’s threats to humanity in the region: anthropogenic climate change (ACC) and conflict.
First, let’s examine why the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the climate change hotspot.
Observations to date show that there has been an increase in heatwaves, dry spells and drought.
A number of us recently looked at trends in warm spells over the globe.
The figure below shows that these have increased by up to 18 days annually for the MENA over a recent 30-year period, the largest for any region on the planet.
Similarly, work completed for maximum consecutive dry days shows trends towards drier conditions.
This result is particularly evident in the eastern part of the MENA region.
Given the nature of rainfall in the region, this result suggests that the dry (summer) season is extending in length.
More alarming are the future trends for later this century.
Results suggest that warming in the MENA are largest in summer, whereas elsewhere it is in winter.
The number of warm days and nights may increase sharply.
Warm spell durations are likely to increase from 16 days currently, to 83 to 118 days by 2050 and more than 200 days by 2100 for the business-as-usual climate scenario in the MENA.
The maximum temperature during the hottest days in the recent past were about 43C, which could increase to about 46C by the middle of the century and reach almost 50C by the end of the century, the latter for business as usual.
For all mammals, including humans, survival is partially a function of environmental temperature.