Temperatures throughout North Africa are virtually unbearable. Cairo has been holding steadily at 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouargla, Algeria recently saw temperatures reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the highest recorded temperature on the African continent. In 2016, Mitribah, Kuwait, became home to the highest temperature on record for the Eastern Hemisphere at 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
As climate change makes uncomfortably hot weather a normal occurrence for countries along the Arabian Gulf and in North Africa, said places could become unlivable.
A representative for the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, Ashraf Zaki, believes that this pattern of extremely warm weather is incredibly significant. He warns that if nations do not follow the guidelines of the Paris climate accord, rising temperatures could lead to “one of the biggest disasters on the globe.”
“All of the extreme weather events have really been increased, the number of heat waves have increased,” Zaki stated. “Humidity levels are increased. All these issues belong to the effect of climate change.”
Furthermore, rising sea levels and a rising water table in the Nile Delta is already threatening Egypt’s 4 percent of remaining arable farmland.
“The main problem that most people are talking about is inundation by sea level rise for the Nile Delta. There is another problem: saltwater intrusion,” said Mohamed Abdrabo, director of Alexandria Research Center for Adaptation to Climate Change.
Some coastal farmers are building up soil in order to combat the growing issue.
“We are talking about billions of dollars in terms of losses due to saltwater intrusion,” said Abdrabo.
What Are The Long-Term Effects?
If sea levels continue to rise in Alexandria, water will engulf a quarter of the country’s coast.
“The problem with sea level rise and saltwater intrusion and most of the impacts of climate change you’re talking about in Egypt, it will be mostly gradual, which means you don’t feel it,” Abdrabo stated.
As Abdrabo mentioned, the immediate risk of high temperatures and humidity often goes undetected. However, if nations fail to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, the future climates in the Arabian Gulf and southwest Asia will not be able to sustain human life.
The United Arab Emirates is currently the only country in the region which has a ministry dedicated to climate change.
By the year 2050, the UAE intends to double the contribution of clean energy to half of the total amount in order to reduce its carbon footprint by 70 percent and save $700 billion.
“Here in the UAE we have already reached 104 F, we are almost touching 122 F…. We look at it as if we are on the front line compared to others,” said Fahed Alhammadi, assistant undersecretary in the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. “We are now developing scenarios … where we need to start to review our own regulations and law … We need to start monitoring diseases associated with temperature increase in order to bring these figures down.”
How Are People Handling The Heat?
Access to cool air is at the forefront of many people’s minds. As temperatures continue to rise, air conditioning is at the center of comfort and survival.
For example, Morocco and Egypt are combating the heat by creating the largest wind farm in Africa. Similarly, Egypt is also developing the world’s biggest solar farm.
“I think that by the middle of the century, having in the range of 140 to 160 F more regularly in the Gulf and other countries is going to be the new normal,” says Harald Heubaum, global energy and climate policy expert at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London. “The demand for cooling will triple at least and it will be the main driver of electric consumption.”
Featured Image via Flickr.