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Ed Webb

Where Will Everyone Go? - 0 views

  • The odd weather phenomenon that many blame for the suffering here — the drought and sudden storm pattern known as El Niño — is expected to become more frequent as the planet warms. Many semiarid parts of Guatemala will soon be more like a desert. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 60% in some parts of the country, and the amount of water replenishing streams and keeping soil moist will drop by as much as 83%. Researchers project that by 2070, yields of some staple crops in the state where Jorge lives will decline by nearly a third.
  • As their land fails them, hundreds of millions of people from Central America to Sudan to the Mekong Delta will be forced to choose between flight or death. The result will almost certainly be the greatest wave of global migration the world has seen.
  • For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north.
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  • the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1% of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing 1 of every 3 people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on
  • In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than 8 million people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures. Should the flight away from hot climates reach the scale that current research suggests is likely, it will amount to a vast remapping of the world’s populations.
  • Migration can bring great opportunity not just to migrants but also to the places they go
  • Northern nations can relieve pressures on the fastest-warming countries by allowing more migrants to move north across their borders, or they can seal themselves off, trapping hundreds of millions of people in places that are increasingly unlivable. The best outcome requires not only goodwill and the careful management of turbulent political forces; without preparation and planning, the sweeping scale of change could prove wildly destabilizing. The United Nations and others warn that in the worst case, the governments of the nations most affected by climate change could topple as whole regions devolve into war
  • To better understand the forces and scale of climate migration over a broader area, The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica joined with the Pulitzer Center in an effort to model, for the first time, how people will move across borders
  • The story is similar in South Asia, where nearly one-fourth of the global population lives. The World Bank projects that the region will soon have the highest prevalence of food insecurity in the world. While some 8.5 million people have fled already — resettling mostly in the Persian Gulf — 17 million to 36 million more people may soon be uprooted, the World Bank found. If past patterns are a measure, many will settle in India’s Ganges Valley; by the end of the century, heat waves and humidity will become so extreme there that people without air conditioning will simply die.
  • If governments take modest action to reduce climate emissions, about 680,000 climate migrants might move from Central America and Mexico to the United States between now and 2050. If emissions continue unabated, leading to more extreme warming, that number jumps to more than a million people. (None of these figures include undocumented immigrants, whose numbers could be twice as high.)
  • As with much modeling work, the point here is not to provide concrete numerical predictions so much as it is to provide glimpses into possible futures. Human movement is notoriously hard to model, and as many climate researchers have noted, it is important not to add a false precision to the political battles that inevitably surround any discussion of migration. But our model offers something far more potentially valuable to policymakers: a detailed look at the staggering human suffering that will be inflicted if countries shut their doors.
  • the coronavirus pandemic has offered a test run on whether humanity has the capacity to avert a predictable — and predicted — catastrophe. Some countries have fared better. But the United States has failed. The climate crisis will test the developed world again, on a larger scale, with higher stakes
  • Climate is rarely the main cause of migration, the studies have generally found, but it is almost always an exacerbating one.
  • Drought helped push many Syrians into cities before the war, worsening tensions and leading to rising discontent; crop losses led to unemployment that stoked Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Libya; Brexit, even, was arguably a ripple effect of the influx of migrants brought to Europe by the wars that followed. And all those effects were bound up with the movement of just 2 million people. As the mechanisms of climate migration have come into sharper focus — food scarcity, water scarcity and heat — the latent potential for large-scale movement comes to seem astronomically larger.
  • North Africa’s Sahel provides an example. In the nine countries stretching across the continent from Mauritania to Sudan, extraordinary population growth and steep environmental decline are on a collision course. Past droughts, most likely caused by climate change, have already killed more than 100,000 people there. And the region — with more than 150 million people and growing — is threatened by rapid desertification, even more severe water shortages and deforestation. Today researchers at the United Nations estimate that some 65% of farmable lands have already been degraded. “My deep fear,” said Solomon Hsiang, a climate researcher and economist at the University of California, Berkeley, is that Africa’s transition into a post-climate-change civilization “leads to a constant outpouring of people.”
  • Our model projects that migration will rise every year regardless of climate, but that the amount of migration increases substantially as the climate changes. In the most extreme climate scenarios, more than 30 million migrants would head toward the U.S. border over the course of the next 30 years
  • every one of the scenarios it produces points to a future in which climate change, currently a subtle disrupting influence, becomes a source of major disruption, increasingly driving the displacement of vast populations.
  • rough predictions have emerged about the scale of total global climate migration — they range from 50 million to 300 million people displaced — but the global data is limited, and uncertainty remained about how to apply patterns of behavior to specific people in specific places.
  • Once the model was built and layered with both approaches — econometric and gravity — we looked at how people moved as global carbon concentrations increased in five different scenarios, which imagine various combinations of growth, trade and border control, among other factors. (These scenarios have become standard among climate scientists and economists in modeling different pathways of global socioeconomic development.)
  • We are now learning that climate scientists have been underestimating the future displacement from rising tides by a factor of three, with the likely toll being some 150 million globally. New projections show high tides subsuming much of Vietnam by 2050 — including most of the Mekong Delta, now home to 18 million people — as well as parts of China and Thailand, most of southern Iraq and nearly all of the Nile Delta, Egypt’s breadbasket. Many coastal regions of the United States are also at risk.
  • Around 2012, a coffee blight worsened by climate change virtually wiped out El Salvador’s crop, slashing harvests by 70%. Then drought and unpredictable storms led to what a U.N.-affiliated food-security organization describes as “a progressive deterioration” of Salvadorans’ livelihoods.
  • climate change can act as what Defense Department officials sometimes refer to as a “threat multiplier.”
  • For all the ways in which human migration is hard to predict, one trend is clear: Around the world, as people run short of food and abandon farms, they gravitate toward cities, which quickly grow overcrowded. It’s in these cities, where waves of new people stretch infrastructure, resources and services to their limits, that migration researchers warn that the most severe strains on society will unfold
  • the World Bank has raised concerns about the mind-boggling influx of people into East African cities like Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, where the population has doubled since 2000 and is expected to nearly double again by 2035
  • now a little more than half of the planet’s population lives in urban areas, but by the middle of the century, the World Bank estimates, 67% will. In just a decade, 4 out of every 10 urban residents — 2 billion people around the world — will live in slums
  • El Paso is also a place with oppressive heat and very little water, another front line in the climate crisis. Temperatures already top 90 degrees here for three months of the year, and by the end of the century it will be that hot one of every two days. The heat, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, will drive deaths that soon outpace those from car crashes or opioid overdoses. Cooling costs — already a third of some residents’ budgets — will get pricier, and warming will drive down economic output by 8%, perhaps making El Paso just as unlivable as the places farther south.
  • High emissions, with few global policy changes and relatively open borders, will drive rural El Salvador — just like rural Guatemala — to empty out, even as its cities grow. Should the United States and other wealthy countries change the trajectory of global policy, though — by, say, investing in climate mitigation efforts at home but also hardening their borders — they would trigger a complex cascade of repercussions farther south, according to the model. Central American and Mexican cities continue to grow, albeit less quickly, but their overall wealth and development slows drastically, most likely concentrating poverty further. Far more people also remain in the countryside for lack of opportunity, becoming trapped and more desperate than ever.
  • By midcentury, the U.N. estimates that El Salvador — which has 6.4 million people and is the most densely populated country in Central America — will be 86% urban
  • Most would-be migrants don’t want to move away from home. Instead, they’ll make incremental adjustments to minimize change, first moving to a larger town or a city. It’s only when those places fail them that they tend to cross borders, taking on ever riskier journeys, in what researchers call “stepwise migration.” Leaving a village for the city is hard enough, but crossing into a foreign land — vulnerable to both its politics and its own social turmoil — is an entirely different trial.
  • I arrived in Tapachula five weeks after the breakout to find a city cracking in the crucible of migration. Just months earlier, passing migrants on Mexico’s southern border were offered rides and tortas and medicine from a sympathetic Mexican public. Now migrant families were being hunted down in the countryside by armed national-guard units, as if they were enemy soldiers.
  • Models can’t say much about the cultural strain that might result from a climate influx; there is no data on anger or prejudice. What they do say is that over the next two decades, if climate emissions continue as they are, the population in southern Mexico will grow sharply. At the same time, Mexico has its own serious climate concerns and will most likely see its own climate exodus. One in 6 Mexicans now rely on farming for their livelihood, and close to half the population lives in poverty. Studies estimate that with climate change, water availability per capita could decrease by as much as 88% in places, and crop yields in coastal regions may drop by a third. If that change does indeed push out a wave of Mexican migrants, many of them will most likely come from Chiapas.
  • even as 1 million or so climate migrants make it to the U.S. border, many more Central Americans will become trapped in protracted transit, unable to move forward or backward in their journey, remaining in southern Mexico and making its current stresses far worse.
  • Already, by late last year, the Mexican government’s ill-planned policies had begun to unravel into something more insidious: rising resentment and hate. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has effectively sealed borders, those sentiments risk bubbling over. Migrants, with nowhere to go and no shelters able to take them in, roam the streets, unable to socially distance and lacking even basic sanitation. It has angered many Mexican citizens, who have begun to describe the migrants as economic parasites and question foreign aid aimed at helping people cope with the drought in places where Jorge A. and Cortez come from.
  • a new Mexico-first movement, organizing thousands to march against immigrants
  • Trump had, as another senior government official told me, “held a gun to Mexico’s head,” demanding a crackdown at the Guatemalan border under threat of a 25% tariff on trade. Such a tax could break the back of Mexico’s economy overnight, and so López Obrador’s government immediately agreed to dispatch a new militarized force to the border.
  • laying blame at the feet of neoliberal economics, which he said had produced a “poverty factory” with no regional development policies to address it. It was the system — capitalism itself — that had abandoned human beings, not Mexico’s leaders. “We didn’t anticipate that the globalization of the economy, the globalization of the law … would have such a devastating effect,”
  • No policy, though, would be able to stop the forces — climate, increasingly, among them — that are pushing migrants from the south to breach Mexico’s borders, legally or illegally. So what happens when still more people — many millions more — float across the Suchiate River and land in Chiapas? Our model suggests that this is what is coming — that between now and 2050, nearly 9 million migrants will head for Mexico’s southern border, more than 300,000 of them because of climate change alone.
  • “If we are going to die anyway,” he said, “we might as well die trying to get to the United States.”
  • In the case of Addis Ababa, the World Bank suggests that in the second half of the century, many of the people who fled there will be forced to move again, leaving that city as local agriculture around it dries up.
  • Without a decent plan for housing, feeding and employing a growing number of climate refugees, cities on the receiving end of migration can never confidently pilot their own economic future.
  • The United States refused to join 164 other countries in signing a global migration treaty in 2018, the first such agreement to recognize climate as a cause of future displacement. At the same time, the U.S. is cutting off foreign aid — money for everything from water infrastructure to greenhouse agriculture — that has been proved to help starving families like Jorge A.’s in Guatemala produce food, and ultimately stay in their homes. Even those migrants who legally make their way into El Paso have been turned back, relegated to cramped and dangerous shelters in Juárez to wait for the hearings they are owed under law.
  • There is no more natural and fundamental adaptation to a changing climate than to migrate. It is the obvious progression the earliest Homo sapiens pursued out of Africa, and the same one the Mayans tried 1,200 years ago. As Lorenzo Guadagno at the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration told me recently, “Mobility is resilience.” Every policy choice that allows people the flexibility to decide for themselves where they live helps make them safer.
  • what may be the worst-case scenario: one in which America and the rest of the developed world refuse to welcome migrants but also fail to help them at home. As our model demonstrated, closing borders while stinting on development creates a somewhat counterintuitive population surge even as temperatures rise, trapping more and more people in places that are increasingly unsuited to human life
  • the global trend toward building walls could have a profound and lethal effect. Researchers suggest that the annual death toll, globally, from heat alone will eventually rise by 1.5 million. But in this scenario, untold more will also die from starvation, or in the conflicts that arise over tensions that food and water insecurity will bring
  • America’s demographic decline suggests that more immigrants would play a productive role here, but the nation would have to be willing to invest in preparing for that influx of people so that the population growth alone doesn’t overwhelm the places they move to, deepening divisions and exacerbating inequalities.
  • At the same time, the United States and other wealthy countries can help vulnerable people where they live, by funding development that modernizes agriculture and water infrastructure. A U.N. World Food Program effort to help farmers build irrigated greenhouses in El Salvador, for instance, has drastically reduced crop losses and improved farmers’ incomes. It can’t reverse climate change, but it can buy time.
  • Thus far, the United States has done very little at all. Even as the scientific consensus around climate change and climate migration builds, in some circles the topic has become taboo. This spring, after Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the explosive study estimating that, barring migration, one-third of the planet’s population may eventually live outside the traditional ecological niche for civilization, Marten Scheffer, one of the study’s authors, told me that he was asked to tone down some of his conclusions through the peer-review process and that he felt pushed to “understate” the implications in order to get the research published. The result: Migration is only superficially explored in the paper.
  • Our modeling and the consensus of academics point to the same bottom line: If societies respond aggressively to climate change and migration and increase their resilience to it, food production will be shored up, poverty reduced and international migration slowed — factors that could help the world remain more stable and more peaceful. If leaders take fewer actions against climate change, or more punitive ones against migrants, food insecurity will deepen, as will poverty. Populations will surge, and cross-border movement will be restricted, leading to greater suffering. Whatever actions governments take next — and when they do it — makes a difference.
  • The world can now expect that with every degree of temperature increase, roughly a billion people will be pushed outside the zone in which humans have lived for thousands of years
  • “If we don’t develop a different attitude,” he said, “we’re going to be like people in the lifeboat, beating on those that are trying to climb in.”
Ed Webb

The Coronavirus Oil Shock Is Just Getting Started - 0 views

  • People in the West tend to think about oil shocks from the perspective of the consumer. They notice when prices go up. The price spikes in 1973 and 1979 triggered by boycotts by oil producers are etched in their collective consciousness, as price controls left Americans lining up for gas and European governments imposed weekend driving bans. This was more than an economic shock. The balance of power in the world economy seemed to be shifting from the developed to the developing world.
  • If a surge in fossil fuel prices rearranges the world economy, the effect also operates in reverse. For the vast majority of countries in the world, the decline in oil prices is a boon. Among emerging markets, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Argentina, Turkey, and South Africa all benefit, as imported fuel is a big part of their import bill. Cheaper energy will cushion the pain of the COVID-19 recession. But at the same time, and by the same token, plunging oil prices deliver a concentrated and devastating shock to the producers. By comparison with the diffuse benefit enjoyed by consumers, the producers suffer immediate immiseration.
  • In inflation-adjusted terms, oil prices are similar to those last seen in the 1950s, when the Persian Gulf states were little more than clients of the oil majors, the United States and the British Empire
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  • Fiscal crises caused by falling prices limit governments’ room for domestic maneuver and force painful political choices
  • The economic profile of the Gulf states is not, however, typical of most oil-producing states. Most have a much lower ratio of oil reserves to population. Many large oil exporters have large and rapidly growing populations that are hungry for consumption, social spending, subsidies, and investment
  • In February, even before the coronavirus hit, the International Monetary Fund was warning Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that by 2034 they would be net debtors to the rest of the world. That prediction was based on a 2020 price of $55 per barrel. At a price of $30, that timeline will shorten. And even in the Gulf there are weak links. Bahrain avoids financial crisis only through the financial patronage of Saudi Arabia. Oman is in even worse shape. Its government debt is so heavily discounted that it may soon slip into the distressed debt category
  • Ecuador is the second Latin American country after Argentina to enter technical default this year.
  • Populous middle-income countries that depend critically on oil are uniquely vulnerable. Iran is a special case because of the punitive sanctions regime imposed by the United States. But its neighbor Iraq, with a population of 38 million and a government budget that is 90 percent dependent on oil, will struggle to keep civil servants paid.
  • Algeria—with a population of 44 million and an official unemployment rate of 15 percent—depends on oil and gas imports for 85 percent of its foreign exchange revenue
  • The oil and gas boom of the early 2000s provided the financial foundation for the subsequent pacification of Algerian society under National Liberation Front President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Algeria’s giant military, the basic pillar of the regime, was the chief beneficiaries of this largesse, along with its Russian arms suppliers. The country’s foreign currency reserves peaked at $200 billion in 2012. Spending this windfall on assistance programs and subsidies allowed Bouteflika’s government to survive the initial wave of protests during the Arab Spring. But with oil prices trending down, this was not a sustainable long-run course. By 2018 the government’s oil stabilization fund, which once held reserves worth more than one-third of GDP, had been depleted. Given Algeria’s yawning trade deficit, the IMF expects reserves to fall below $13 billion in 2021. A strict COVID-19 lockdown is containing popular protest for now, but given that the fragile government in Algiers is now bracing for budget cuts of 30 percent, do not expect that calm to last.
  • Before last month’s price collapse, Angola was already spending between one fifth and one third of its export revenues on debt service. That burden is now bound to increase significantly. Ten-year Angolan bonds were this week trading at 44 cents on the dollar. Having been downgraded to a lowly CCC+, it is now widely considered to be at imminent risk of default. Because servicing its debts requires a share of public spending six times larger than that which Angola spends on the health of its citizens, the case for doing so in the face of the COVID-19 crisis is unarguable.
  • Faced with the price collapse of 2020, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed has declared that Nigeria is now in “crisis.” In March, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowered Nigeria’s sovereign debt rating to B-. This will raise the cost of borrowing and slow economic growth in a country in which more than 86 million people, 47 percent of the population, live in extreme poverty—the largest number in the world. Furthermore, with 65 percent of government revenues devoted to servicing existing debt, the government may have to resort to printing money to pay civil servants, further spurring an already high inflation rate caused by food supply shortages
  • The price surge of the 1970s and the nationalization of the Middle East oil industry announced the definitive end of the imperial era. The 1980s saw the creation of a market-based global energy economy. The early 2000s seemed to open the door on a new age of state capitalism, in which China was the main driver of demand and titans like Saudi Aramco and Rosneft managed supply
  • The giants such as Saudi Arabia and Russia will exploit their muscle to survive the crisis. But the same cannot so easily be said for the weaker producers. For states such as Iraq, Algeria, and Angola, the threat is nothing short of existential.
  • Beijing has so far shown little interest in exploiting the crisis for debt-book diplomacy. It has signaled its willingness to cooperate with the other members of the G-20 in supporting a debt moratorium.
  • In a century that will be marked by climate change, how useful is it to restore profits and prosperity based on fossil fuel extraction?
  • The shock of the coronavirus is offering a glimpse of the future and it is harsh. The COVID-19 crisis drives home that high-cost producers are on a dangerously unsustainable path that can’t be resolved by states propping up their uncompetitive oil sectors. Even more important is the need to diversify the economies of the truly vulnerable producers in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Ed Webb

The impact of the global energy transition on MENA oil and gas producers - ScienceDirect - 0 views

  • MENA hydrocarbon producers' socio-economic structures continue to heavily rely on oil rent.•The low-carbon transition may imply sustained pressure on their development models.•Since the 2014 oil price drop, they adopted new, ambitious, economic diversification plans.•Such diversification plans never worked in the past, due to a lack of real incentives.•Job creation needs and low-carbon transition could foster diversification plans' implementation.
Ed Webb

Thirsty crops, leaky infrastructure drive Tunisia's water crisis | PLACE - 0 views

  • "We used to grow much more wheat, we used to plant tomatoes, but we don't have (enough) water,"
  • Poor planning, sparse water resources and the worsening impacts of climate change have combined to create a crippling water crisis in Tunisia, say civil society groups.
  • Due to random cuts to water supplies, debt and management issues with the GDAs and the poor quality of water that runs from the taps, Marzougui said about three-quarters of the population have problems accessing clean water.
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  • The country's irregular rainfall patterns are accentuated by climate change, with periods of droughts and record high temperatures oscillating between torrential rain and floods, according to the agriculture ministry.
  • "We need a lot of water during Eid - for cooking, showering, for washing the intestines of the sheep," she said, referring to the traditional method for preparing meat during the holiday. "The infrastructure is bad, we lose water in the distribution network. The summer months are peak tourist season, so there is a lot of water consumption," said Louati of the OTE. "And because of climate change, the availability of water varies more than before."
  • It is mostly women who carry the burden of fetching water
  • Even for houses on the grid, water is not guaranteed. Nomad08 recorded 3,000 cuts between 2016 and 2018 across the country, lasting up to 60 days at a time.
  • latest government figures also reveal that poor infrastructure means in some regions about half of water is lost before it even reaches the tap
  • In 2017, the minister of agriculture created a committee dedicated to prioritising climate change in the management of agriculture and water. "We are in front of a fait accompli - we need to do with what we have and it is only going to become less (water)," said Rafik Aini, coordinator of the committee and senior negotiator in climate change at the agriculture ministry.
  • Tunisia's new Water Code, which was approved by ministers in September and is waiting to be debated by parliament, includes climate change as a factor to be considered in water policy decisions, unlike the original 1975 code.
  • In addition to repairing the water network, Aini told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the government's 2050 strategy for water will involve desalination projects powered by renewable energy.
  • "It costs a lot of money and there is still (more) water lost through the network (than desalination stations are projected to produce)."
  • In January, a study by the U.N. University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) warned that the global levels of surplus salty brine produced by this method were 50% higher than previous estimates.
  • Desalination would also have "profound impacts" on the sea ecosystem, where this waste is mostly dumped, the report found.
  • the "politics of agriculture needs to change," said Gafrej. "With precious and rare water, we do not have the right to produce certain cultures like watermelons."
  • about 80% of Tunisia's natural water resources are used for agriculture, according to last year's government figures. Thirsty crops like oranges, watermelons and tomatoes are grown for export abroad, mostly to Europe.
  • In intensive farming regions, like Kairouan, groundwater is being extracted at a faster rate than the underground supply is renewed, as well as from non-renewable groundwater sources. A government report noted that these resources are exploited up to 400% in certain regions.
Ed Webb

Despite having enough food, humanity risks hunger 'crises': UN | News | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • Despite producing more food than it can consume, humanity risks a menacing mix of "food crises" brought on by social inequalities, environmental degradation, climate change and wars, a UN report warned
  • the number of people who suffer from hunger worldwide has been slowly increasing since 2015
  • A key obstacle is unequal access: while some people throw away food they buy too much of, others cannot afford or find the nutrition they need
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  • too many people relying on calories from fat and sugar which are poor in vitamins and minerals
  • The global population will expand from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 8.5 billion in 2030, mostly in already hungry Africa and Asia, piling pressure on limited available resources. Urban populations will grow by 50 percent by 2030, while rural ones by more than 20 percent in some countries.
  • Migration fuelled by conflicts and natural disasters, in turn, worsened by global warming, will further exacerbate the situation
  • As more and more people are lifted out of poverty, there has been a higher demand for animal food products, the report noted. This, in turn, has contributed to deforestation to make way for farms growing animals and their feed. In a vicious cycle, shrinking forests mean fewer trees to absorb planet-warming carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change.
Ed Webb

Red Cross's Peter Maurer: Geneva Conventions are being violated | Aid | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), says his organisation's budget has doubled in the past few years as it deals with the scale of conflict and displacement in the world today.
  • the Geneva Conventions are violated by a lot of parties in today's conflicts
  • "While the pattern of implementation of the Geneva Conventions in a context like Yemen is of course a big challenge - and we see violations continuing - we also see big efforts from all the belligerents to engage with us and to improve."
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  • Maurer says large-scale violence is also afflicting people in Africa's Sahel and Lake Chad basin regions - but with far less international attention.
  • there is long-standing developmental reasons which contribute to the fragility of this context. There is climate change-induced migration and population displacements which comes on top of a very war-torn and violent situation
  • Europeans only look through the eyes of migrants coming to them, and maybe insufficiently look at the complexity of the origin of fragility and population displacements in the Sahel and the Lake Chad
  • Eight out of 10 places in the world which are top priorities to ICRC to respond to war [are] at the same time the most fragile in terms of climate change
Ed Webb

Climate crisis: 13 ways the Middle East is under threat | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • The Middle East and North Africa have always been used to more than their fair share of extreme weather and conditions. But it has been made much worse by the twin threats of climate change and man-made intervention, which are hitting the region with increased frequency and ferocity.
  • "In the Middle East there has been a significant increase in the frequency and the intensity of sand and dust storms in the past 15 years or so."
  • The lavishly titled Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), under construction on the Blue Nile since 2011, will be the largest in Africa when it is completed. But in Cairo it is being watched anxiously: a rapid increase in demand due to population growth, severe mismanagement of resources and a lack of investment in water infrastructure have made Egypt one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, relying on the Nile for 90 percent of its fresh water.
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  • Jordan. It has been described by the UN as one of the most water-scarce countries on the planet
  • Once a water-rich country, southern Iraq has faced successive droughts and significant drops in annual rainfall, following the construction of major dams in Turkey and Iran since the 1970s.
  • Arab states are facing a water supply emergency for which they need a coordinated response, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, predicting that per capita resources will be halved by 2050.
  • The Middle East and North Africa have suffered more than any other region from water scarcity and desertification, problems being complicated by climate change
  • In the UAE, reclamation schemes, such as Dubai's Palm Islands and World Islands, have altered the geography of the coast and wave patterns have destroyed marine ecosystems.
  • Campaigners in western Turkey have protested against a Canadian-owned gold mine project amid fears the deforestation will reduce a hilltop to an arid desert.
  • Dubai has one of the hottest climates on the planet. At the height of summer, temperatures can reach a high of 41ºC in the shade. But the emirate's urban growth - between 10 percent and 13 percent, year on year, for the past four decades - has boosted those figures.
  • Pilgrims attending Hajj in Saudi Arabia may be at risk of extreme heat and humidity that is driven by climate change
  • It has been calculated that golf courses in the US use, on average, 130,000 gallons of water each day. Those in the kingdom and elsewhere will likely use many times that amount, as well as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides to keep them alive. All these chemicals eventually feed into precious groundwater supplies, potentially causing pollution problems. 
  • In 2017, scientists warned that climate change means that the Middle East and North African region (MENA) is susceptible to some of the more severe consequences of warming, including lethal heat waves, extensive drought and rising sea levels.
  • Morocco was ranked second of 57 countries in this year's Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which examines four performance categories: emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy. But while Egypt was mid-table at 21st, Turkey came in at 47th, Iran was 55th and Saudi Arabia was last at 57th, a position it has held for the past few years.
Ed Webb

The New Energy geopolitics and the Gulf Arab States - The Geopolitics - 0 views

  • today’s largest volumes of global seaborne crude oil – around 30% – along with a significant volume of LNG, passes through its Straits of Hormuz, making it the most important maritime oil chokepoint which connects the Gulf states with key global markets in the East and the West
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) sees that the world can reach net-zero emissions by 2060, wherein 75% of reduction comes from energy efficiency and renewable energy, with another 14% from carbon capture and storage, 6% from nuclear and 5% from fuel switching. In this context, the fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix falls from 82% in 2014 to 35% in 2060 under the 2°C scenario, or to 26% in the below 2°C scenario.
  • Renewable technologies and batteries require certain minerals for their production, such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and rare earth elements. Despite the fact that renewable endowments for wind, solar, geothermal and biomass are scattered geographically, controlling the production of these new commodities will have major geopolitical consequences as they are based only in a selected number of countries such as Chile, Bolivia, Mongolia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
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  • At present, China dominates the world’s investment and innovation in renewable energy technologies.
  • the importance of the Gulf Arab states will be eroded not only because of the decline in global demand for oil but also because Gulf countries are not rich in the minerals required to build renewable energy technologies, and are highly dependent on technology imports rather than in-house technology innovation and research and development
  • all hydrocarbon producer economies will see a fall in total rent of about 40% by 2040 compared with the ‘golden years’ of 2010-14 due to rigorous policies on fuel switching and efficiency to reach net-zero emissions in the second half of this century
  • In 2013, R&D investment in Gulf countries averaged 0.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP), compared with 2%–3% in industrialized countries. The 0.3% figure is far less than the minimum percentage (1%) needed for an effective science and technology base specified by UNESCO.
  • in the new energy era, the Gulf Arab states are still advantaged by their geographical location. These countries are specially positioned for harnessing wind and solar energy
Ed Webb

Frankie Boyle's review of 2018: 'Let's forget Brexit and enjoy our last Christmas with ... - 0 views

  • Consider again the plight of the children starving in Yemen. It’s a hard thing to consider. It’s OK to admit that, I think – that it’s hard to empathise: you don’t know much about it, you have your own plight, and it’s a difficult thing to think about. To consider that, in a world that has pub lunches, wristwatches, golden retrievers, the novels of Donna Tartt, the music of Kendrick Lamar, flumes and The Amazing Spider-Man, there is still a plight where you starve to death, as a child, for no reason. I mean, there is a reason, that I suppose has somehow made itself too obvious to mention. The reason is that some people are addicted to money and power, many of them pathologically so, and we let them do what they like. In our name, and with our taxes, we let them kill who they like in the service of their bored, baroque perversity, because we don’t care enough to stop them. We cannot seem to rouse ourselves, even as they move to turn the world into a consuming flame. We are running out of time to save the children of Yemen, and ourselves – and yet we could still, in theory, be redeemed. Consider the plight of the satirist.
Ed Webb

Could hydroponics save Yemen from starving? | Green Prophet - 0 views

  • The number of food insecure people in Yemen has risen by 3 million in seven months, with an estimated 17.1 million people now struggling to feed themselves
  • More than two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27.4 million people now lack access to food and consume an inadequate diet. Another Syria-style crisis may be on our way, and climate change and lack of water is making it worse.
  • “We are witnessing some of the highest numbers of malnutrition amongst children in Yemen in recent times. Children who are severely and acutely malnourished are 11 times more at risk of death as compared to their healthy peers, if not treated on time. Even if they survive, these children risk not fulfilling their developmental potentials, posing a serious threat to an entire generation in Yemen and keeping the country mired in the vicious cycle of poverty and under development,”
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  • 80 percent of Yemenis are in now in debt, and more than half of all households have had to buy food on credit.
  • Up to 1.5 million households engaged in agriculture now lack access to critical agricultural inputs (including seeds, fertiliser, fuel for irrigation) and are in urgent need of emergency agricultural support. Of these, 860 000 households engaged in livestock production lack access to animal feed (fodder, concentrate, mineral blocks) and many livestock-dependent households have been forced to sell their herds to cater for other household needs
Ed Webb

Persepolis: Iran tourism gateway faces climate threats | | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • While political tensions between the West and Tehran continue, one of the industries that has benefited most from the thawing of relations is tourism, with the country reporting 18 percent growth in international arrivals last year. Visitors from North America, Europe and the Middle East represented more than a quarter of the total number of arrivals from January to December 2016
  • agricultural activities have caused the soil around Persepolis to collapse owing to the depletion of groundwater and drought. Growth of algae and bacteria in the ruins have also threatened the many archaeological objects at the site, which was carved on the side of the Rahmet Mountain. But with the reopening of the country, experts from Japan and Italy are lending their hands to preserve the site for the many visitors expected in the years to come.
Ed Webb

What does Africa need to tackle climate change? - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • the Moroccan presidency of this year's COP climate summit has made African agriculture one of its priorities when addressing climate change. For the first time, pan-African experts and officials meet to discuss their best solutions while making a united plea for $30bn to put them into action. Such regional action has become critical, as talks to include agriculture in the climate negotiations have once again failed, and will now be postponed until May 2017.
  • Every single African country has included adapting agriculture as part of their climate change strategies submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What is missing is sufficient investment.
  • Out of the 10 countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are in Africa, yet the continent only receives 5 percent of dedicated climate funding.
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  • The cost of adapting agriculture to cope with the effects of climate change will cost between $20bn and $30bn a year until 2030, according to the African Development Bank.
  • better soil management
  • The second area is water control. A third of areas growing olives in Morocco are still using traditional flood irrigation methods, consuming water levels that are far beyond what the trees actually require.
  • The third aspect is climate-risk management.
  • we need funding to expand capacity building and means of sharing our knowledge so that African countries can learn how to adapt to climate change
Ed Webb

Donald Trump Is the First Demagogue of the Anthropocene - The Atlantic - 1 views

  • Jürgen Scheffran, a professor of geography at the University of Hamburg, has been investigating whether climate change makes armed conflict more likely for more than a decade. In 2012, he worked on a team that analyzed all 27 empirical studies investigating the link between war and climate change.“Sixteen found a significant link between climate and conflict, six did not find a link, and five found an ambiguous relationship,” he told me. He described these numbers as inconclusive. Trying to prove that climate change is linked to war, he said, would be like trying to prove that smoking causes cancer with only one available case study.
  • there is only one world, and not a million worlds, in which the temperature is rising, and you cannot associate a single event—like a single hurricane or a single conflict—to climate change. It’s a statistical problem, and we don’t have enough data yet
  • the U.S. Department of Defense already considers global warming a “threat multiplier” for national security. It expects hotter temperatures and acidified oceans to destabilize governments and worsen infectious pandemics
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  • Martin O’Malley was mocked for suggesting that a climate-change-intensified drought in the Levant—the worst drought in 900 years—helped incite the Syrian Civil War, thus kickstarting the Islamic State. The evidence tentatively supports him. Since the outbreak of the conflict, some scholars have recognized that this drought pushed once-prosperous farmers into Syria’s cities. Many became unemployed and destitute, aggravating internal divisions in the run-up to the war
  • Scheffran underlined these climate connections but declined to emphasize them. “The Syrian War has so many complex interrelated issues—and most of them are political and economic—that the drought is just one contributing factor to the instability in the region,”
  • it’s all about the exogenous shock. We were all interested in, to what extent does a big event like a flooding or a drought undermine society, or trigger a conflict outbreak?
  • Heatwaves, droughts, and other climate-related exogenous shocks do correlate to conflict outbreak—but only in countries primed for conflict by ethnic division. In the 30-year period, nearly a quarter of all ethnic-fueled armed conflict coincided with a climate-related calamity. By contrast, in the set of all countries, war only correlated to climatic disaster about 9 percent of the time
  • climate disaster will not cause a war, but it can influence whether one begins
  • Models predict that northern Africa and the Levant, both already drought-prone, will dry out significantly over the course of the century. On the phone, Schleussner also cited southern Africa and south-central Asia as regions to watch. (It’s no coincidence that some of the largest, longest wars this century have occurred in those places.)
  • a drought-and-flood-fueled armed conflict near the Mediterranean Basin could send people toward Western Europe in the hundreds of millions
  • “I wouldn’t say that there would be a mass migration to Europe, but I would expect to see a large number of people being displaced within Africa,”
  • There is literally, in legal parlance, no such thing as an environmental refugee,” says Edward Carr. “To meet the international standard for refugee, a changing environment is not a forcing. It doesn’t count.”
  • When would you attribute the decision to move to changes in the climate? Does a place have to be dry for five years? For 10 years? Does someone have to have three children die, and then they decide to move?
  • Climate change could push Western politics toward demagoguery and authoritarianism in two ways, then. First, it could devastate agricultural yields and raise food prices; destroy coastal real estate and wash away family wealth; transform old commodities into luxury goods. Second, it could create a wave of migration—likely from conflict, but possibly from environmental ruination—that stresses international reception systems and risks fomenting regional resource disputes.
  • it could erode people’s sense of security, pushing them toward authoritarianism
  • Like the CEO in the 1950s who predicted that America would see flying cars and three-day workweeks by the year 1999, I’ve assumed that every ongoing trend line can be extrapolated out indefinitely. They can’t. The actual future will be far stranger.
  • climate change must be mitigated with all deliberate speed. But he also suggests certain cultural mechanisms. Some Americans may favor more restrictive immigration policies, but—in order to withstand against future waves of mass migration (and humanely deal with the victims of climate change)—racist fears must be unhooked from immigration restrictionism. In other words, as a matter of survival against future authoritarians, white supremacy must be rejected and defeated.
  • Improving the United States’s immune response to authoritarian leadership—a response that could be repeatedly tested in the century to come—can follow from weaving its civic fabric ever tighter. I don’t know what this will look like, exactly, for every person. But here are some places to start: Volunteer. Run for local or state office. Give to charity (whether due to religion or effective altruism). Organize at work. Join a church or a community choir or the local library staff. Make your hometown a better place for refugees to settle. Raise a child well.
  • climate realists have always split their work between mitigation—that is, trying to keep the climate from getting worse—and adaptation—trying to protect what we already have
Ed Webb

Desert Cucumbers: The Sahara Forest Project Comes to Tunisia - Tunisialive - 0 views

  • A $30 million, high-tech agricultural facility covering 10 hectares in the desert in Tunisia’s south is scheduled to open in 2018. The facility, which is a highly sophisticated green house, will use solar energy to power its operations and seawater to irrigate crops and maintain humidity. The extracted salt from the seawater will also be sold commercially.
  • hoped to be a new environmental solution to create green jobs through profitable production of food, water, clean electricity and biomass in desert areas. The first pilot project opened in Qatar in December 2012, and another facility will be launched in Jordan later this year
  • Although there are no numbers or estimates available for Tunisia yet, the Qatar facility directly employs 6,000 people, with a further support staff of 30,000. Tunisian unemployment is estimated around 15 percent countrywide and even higher among young college graduates
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  • It has also become increasingly difficult to maintain a stable agricultural output as the country faces droughts and floods due to climate change
  • 1 percent of Tunisia’s energy supply is based on renewable energy sources, but the Tunisian government has pledged to increase that number to 30 percent by 2030
Ed Webb

Why the Islamic State is the minor leagues of terror | Middle East Eye - 2 views

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    "The sole advantage the Islamic State has when it comes to this country is that it turns out to be so easy to spook us."
Ed Webb

Tunisia's olive production could halve by 2030 due to climate change | Middle East Eye - 2 views

  • Tunisia's 3,000-year history of olive farming is under threat with warnings that production is at risk of halving by 2030 because of the extremes of climate change, from floods to droughts.
  • In the short term, Tunisia's olive oil sector, which accounts for more than 40 percent of revenues from agricultural exports and five percent of total exports, has cause to celebrate.Official figures project a record output of 340,000 tonnes in 2015, with 312,000 tonnes for export, making Tunisia - for the first time - the world's leading exporter of the prized product.
  • before we used to have severe drought one year out of five. Now it's an average of two in five
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  • Climate change affects the entire olive oil sector that employs 390,000 of the country's 560,000 agricultural workers and provides a source of revenue for one million Tunisians
Ed Webb

'Deadly' heat waves predicted for Arabian Gulf by 2100 - Al Jazeera English - 2 views

  • Scorching temperatures are already standard for people living in the Arabian Gulf, but by the end of the century parts of the region could become so hot that it will be impossible for humans to spend time outside
  • if climate change continues at the same pace the severe conditions that now happen roughly once every 20 summer days will become a normal occurrence
  • potential danger for the millions of Muslims attending the annual pilgrimage of Hajj
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