08/31/2018, 16.17
MIDDLE EAST – ASIA
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Climate change could turn the Middle East into a desert

If policies do not change, global warming could top 2 degrees Celsius by 2035. Co2 emissions affect crops: less zinc, iron and protein. Droughts, natural disasters and loss of nutrients will increase. For experts, the world is closer than ever to “the point of no return".

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Scientists are increasingly concerned that humanity is coming ever closer to the “point of no return” so that the effects of global warming will become irreversible, making droughts, floods, natural disasters and a drastic reduction of nutrients in crops permanent features of life.

Given the importance of the environment, which is something very dear to Pope Francis, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Day of Creation tomorrow. Meanwhile, research continues.

A recent study published in the journal Earth System Dynamics notes that unless global policies change, it is very likely that global warming will exceed 2 degrees Celsius by 2035.

If unchecked, the effects will be catastrophic: coastal cities could be submerged – for example, Jakarta could end up underwater within 10 years – and heat waves could kill tens of thousands of people.

Global warming could also trigger higher temperatures, unrelated to carbon emissions, a scenario called Hothouse Earth, with an increase in temperatures of 4 or 5 degrees.

Another study, published this month in Nature Climate Change raises the alarm as well. Not only will droughts put crop at the risk, but carbon emissions will affect the nutrient content of crops.

Such changes, experts note, could mean that hundreds of million of people will develop zinc, iron and protein deficiencies by the middle of the century.

Existing research shows that many food crops become less nutritious when grown under the CO2 levels expected by 2050, with reductions of protein, iron and zinc estimated at 3–17%.

If this were to happen, about 1.4 billion women of childbearing age and infants under five would find themselves in regions with the highest risk of iron deficiency, areas like North Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

It is estimated that in India alone, 50 million more people will suffer from zinc deficiency, a condition that causes serious intestinal problems, and 38 million more would be protein-deficient.

Places like the Middle East could turn into uninhabitable deserts.

A report by the World Bank titled Beyond Scarcity Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa warns that “Of all the challenges the Middle East and North Africa region faces, it is least prepared for water crises.”

Indeed, for some experts and regional leaders, water insecurity is even more serious than political instability and unemployment.

An analysis published in June 2017 by Middle East Eye draws such a disturbing picture. As deadly heatwaves multiply, accompanied by droughts and violent sandstorms, the region could become uninhabitable. And the future might already be here. Last July, the Iraqi government started to import water, which is now in short supplies across the country.

A city that is at risk of water shortages is the capital of Afghanistan. A study published yesterday by the Afghanistan Analyst Network states that if the situation is not addressed soon, climate change, together with overpopulation and water contamination, could aggravate the water crisis that is currently driving many Kabul families to rely on private water providers.

The effects of global warming have become increasingly visible in recent months, with a series of disasters affecting various parts of the world, especially Asia.

Japan was hit in July by serious flooding that left more than 200 people dead, followed by lethal heatwaves. In Kerala (India), this month’s heavy rains caused the death of more than 400 people.

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