Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Ruth Schuster at Haaretz reports on a new study led by Assaf Hochmann at Hebrew University, finding that extreme heat waves in Israel will increase 600% over the next 80 years. Not only will this change strike Israel but also Egypt, Syria, Jordan and southern Turkiye, with the potential for thousands of deaths annually from heat stroke among those countries. Heat waves have already become seven times more frequent and are now longer, since 1960. Schuster notes that the Levant basically had no winter season this year.
Although Schuster doesn’t dwell on these issues, heat waves also cause more frequent wildfires, a threat to countries like Lebanon, Israel, Syria and southern Turkiye that have some forest cover. Likewise, they hurt worker productivity in jobs performed outside, such as farming and urban construction work. They have the potential to hurt restaurants and retail shopping, too. I’ve lived in places that get up to 114 F. in the shade, and even 120 F., and you get very reluctant to leave home on those days. One couple in Qatar told me that they got the summer blues there, because of being cooped up in their apartment and not wanting to venture out to receive that unrelenting blast of hot air in their faces.
Farmers in Jordan’s Ghawr Valley are having to delay planting until September because of the withering temperatures that now hit in August. This delay, however, gives them a shorter growing season, since it still turns cool in December. Jordan is at a relatively high elevation and can get snow in winter. The inability to plant in the summer is hurting agricultural productivity and the farmers’ bottom line, reducing their income. Similar threats face the entire Levant, and will get many times worse in coming decades.
AP: “Heat wave leaves Amman sweltering”
The climate emergency is also at least partially to blame for the extensive decline of agriculture in the environs of Iraq’s southern riverine port of Basra.
The climate crisis is not striking everywhere in the world with the same intensity. Warming is proceeding twice as rapidly in the Middle East as the global average.
A recent informal UNICEF poll (not a weighted sample) found that 44% of the young people in the Middle East are so concerned about the climate emergency that they are seriously considering not having children. Some 31% of respondents from the Middle East said that climate change had had such a severe impact on them already that they have less food to eat now than in the past. Some 34% of Middle Easterners said that their family income had been reduced by climate change. And 35% said it was harder now to get clean water.
A huge 70% of young people responding to the online poll in the Middle East said that they were considering moving to another country because of climate change.
Although the UNICEF poll is not scientific, its over-all results track with similar polls (global, not just in the Middle East) of youth conducted by respected journals such as The Lancet.