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Oil-rich Gulf faces prospect of unlivable heat as planet warms

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France24‘s story by Aziz El Massassi with AFP Correspondent in the Gulf on how Oil-rich Gulf faces prospect of unlivable heat as planet warms unabatedly up. The described scenario is no more open for debate and the likelyhood of what is advanced has great chances to happen. The reasons of climate change are not only rightly founded but insufficient as a justification amongst many others, all because of the extent of the over-built environment that was frenetically developed within the last fifty years.

The above image is for illustration and of The Arab Gulf is expected to be the epicentre of a severe heat wave
© Getty Images/iStockphoto Thinkstock Images.

Oil-rich Gulf faces prospect of unlivable heat as planet warms

Dubai residents often leave for cooler climates during the hottest months, while many who stay spend their time scurrying between air-conditioned locations—or rely on delivery drivers for a panoply of services.

Gulf cities such as Dubai are known for their scorching summers, but experts warn climate change could soon make parts of the fossil fuel-rich region unlivable for humans.

Daily temperatures in the coastal metropolis regularly top 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for several months of the year and are exacerbated by high humidity.

“I work from 9 am until 4 pm in this heat,” Pakistani scooter driver Sameer said, sweat dripping from his forehead.

“Sometimes, the company or people give us water to drink, and we get a break every three hours,” added Sameer, who works for a mobile delivery app and declined to provide his surname.

A new report this month by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed unequivocally that the climate is changing faster than previously feared, and because of human activity.

Even now, Dubai residents often leave for cooler climates during the hottest months, while many who stay spend their time scurrying between air-conditioned locations—or rely on delivery drivers for a panoply of services.

The UAE is also one of the world’s most arid countries, and for the past several years it has used aircraft for cloud seeding to artificially produce rain.

One expert has warned of the risks for the region as climate change progresses.

“In general, the level of heat stress will increase significantly,” said Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of hydrology and climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With higher temperatures and humidity towards the end of this century, some parts of the Gulf will experience periods of “heat stress conditions that will be incompatible with human survival”, he warned.

Daily temperatures in Dubai regularly top 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for several months of the year, and are exacerbated by high humidity.

‘Wake-up call’

“That will not happen all the time, they will be episodes that would happen once or twice every seven years,” he added.

The combination of heat and relative humidity has the potential to be deadly if the human body is unable to cool off through sweating.

Scientists have calculated that a healthy human adult in the shade with unlimited drinking water will die if so-called “wet-bulb” temperatures (TW) exceed 35C for six hours.

It was long assumed this theoretical threshold would never be crossed, but US researchers reported last year on two locations—one in the United Arab Emirates, another in Pakistan—where the 35C TW barrier was breached more than once, if only fleetingly.

Calls to reduce carbon emissions pose major economic challenges for oil and gas-rich Gulf countries, from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia to Oman and Qatar.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the IPCC report “must sound a death knell” for coal, oil and gas, and warned that fossil fuels were destroying the planet.

But some Gulf states in recent years have taken up greener rhetoric as they try to improve their environmental credentials and diversify their economies away from oil.

Tanzeed Alam, managing director of Dubai-based Earth Matters Consulting, said there was increasing interest in the environment and the impact of climate change in the UAE.

Mechanics work in Isa Town, south of Bahrain’s capital Manama. Average summer temperatures in the country range between 35C and 40C.

“But we are yet to see the large, family-owned businesses really taking this issue to the core of their business models,” he told AFP.

“Businesses don’t often understand how they can cope with increased heatwaves, storms, flooding and other physical impacts,” Alam said.

He expressed hope that the UN report would act as a “wake-up call”.

‘Clear decisions’

The United Arab Emirates aims to increase its reliance on clean energy to 50 percent by 2050 and reduce its carbon footprint for power generation by 70 percent.

Abu Dhabi, one of seven emirates along with Dubai that make up the country, says it is building the world’s largest single-site solar plant.

Once fully operational, the Al Dhafra solar project will have the capacity to power some 160,000 households nationwide, according to the WAM state news agency. It is scheduled to commence operations in 2022.

In Bahrain, where average summer temperatures range between 35C and 40C, Mohammed Abdelaal’s company Silent Power uses solar technology to cool water tanks.

He said demand had increased in several Gulf countries this summer, noting that the region’s ample supply of sunlight facilitates the production of “clean, sustainable, low-cost energy”.

Mohammed Abdelaal’s company Silent Power uses solar technology to cool water tanks.

Bahrain aims for 10 percent renewable energy by 2035, according to state media, while neighbouring Saudi Arabia—with ambitious plans to diversify its oil-reliant economy—in March unveiled a campaign to generate half of its energy from renewables by 2030.

In Kuwait, Khaled Jamal al-Falih expressed concern at what runaway climate change could mean for his country.

“In Kuwait today, a person who needs to run an errand can’t do so until after six o’clock in the evening, and leaving the house means being in an air-conditioned car to go to an air-conditioned place,” he told AFP.

Almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels, the country has a 15 percent renewable energy target by 2030, according to state media.

Falih said his house ran solely on solar power, and urged the government to make “clear decisions” to combat climate change.

The idea of being able to escape the reality of global warming has “become impossible”, Falih said.

Explore further: Climate report must be ‘death knell’ for fossil fuels: UN chief

Climate Repair: three things we must do now to stabilise the planet

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Climate Repair: three things we must do now to stabilise the planet by David King and Jane Lichtenstein, both of University of Cambridge in an article that is republished from The Conversation is no longer only an eye-opener, it is a warning of a from now on ‘planet-wide existential crisis’.

This article however covers the artics extremes of the planet but unfortunately leave aside its middle, that is its tropics. We would not mind extending the words of this article to this latter area of the planet. Would that be alright?
The image above for illustrative purpose is of allAfrica.

The Climate Repair: three things we must do now to stabilise the planet

Mangrove captures four times more carbon than a same area of rainforest. By Annabell Mayke/Shutterstock

Nowhere is safe.” As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a recent report that climate change and its consequences are here to stay, is there still an opportunity to mitigate some of the dangers and to get back to a place of relative safety for humanity?

The challenge of surviving the next 50 years is now seen as a planet-wide existential crisis; we need to work together urgently, just to secure a short-term future for human civilisation. Global weather patterns are violently disrupted: Greece burns; the south of England floods; Texas has had its coldest weather ever, while California and Australia suffer apocalyptic wild fires. All of these violent, record-breaking events are a direct result of rapid heating in the Arctic – occurring faster than in the rest of the world. A warm Arctic triggers new ocean and air currents that change the weather for everyone.

The only way to reverse some of these catastrophic patterns, and to regain a kind of stability in climate and weather systems, is “climate repair” – a strategy we call “reduce, remove, repair” – which demands that we make very rapid progress to net zero global emissions; that there is massive, active removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere; and, in the first instance, that we refreeze the Earth’s poles and glaciers to correct the wild weather patterns, slow down ice-melt, stabilise sea level, and break the feedback loops that relentlessly accelerate global warming. There are no either/or options.

Reducing emissions

About 70% of world economies have net zero emissions commitments over varying timescales, but this has come too late to restore climate stability.

The IPCC has asked for accelerated progress on this trajectory, but whatever happens, current emission rates of atmospheric greenhouse gases imply global warming of 1.5℃ by 2030 and well over 2℃ above pre-industrial level by the end of the century – a devastating outcome. In particular, melting ice and thawing permafrost are considered inevitable even if rapid and deep CO2 emissions reductions are achieved, with sea-level rise to continue for centuries as a result. In every area of the world, climate events will become more severe and more frequent, whether flooding, heating, coastal erosion or fires.

There are definitely important steps that can still reduce the scale of this devastation, including faster and deeper emissions reductions. However, this is not enough on its own to avert the worst. Together there is real evidence that the massive removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and solutions such as repairing the Earth’s poles and glaciers could help humanity find a survivable way out of this crisis.

Removing greenhouse gases

Taking CO2 and equivalent greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, with the aim of getting back to 350ppm (parts per million) by 2100, involves creating new CO2 “sinks” – long-term stores from which CO2 cannot escape. Sinks operate at many scales, with forest planting, mangrove restoration, wetland and peat preservation all crucially important.

Very large projects, such as the restoration of the Loess Plateau in China demonstrate scalable CO2 removal, with multiple add-on benefits of food production, bio-diversity enhancement and weather stabilisation.

Habitat restoration can also make economic sense. In the Philippines, mangrove is the focus of a cost-benefit analysis. Mangrove captures four times more carbon than the same area of rainforest, provides numerous ecosystem services and protects against flooding, conferring socio-economic benefits and significantly reducing the cost of dealing with extreme weather events.

Big new carbon sinks must be created wherever safely possible, including in the oceans. Interventions that mimic natural processes, known to operate safely “in the wild”, are a workable starting point. Promotion of ocean pastures to restore ocean diversity and fish and whale stocks to the levels last seen 300 years ago is one such possibility – offering new sustainable food sources for humans, as well as contributing to climate ecosystem services and carbon sinks.

In nature, sprinklings of iron-rich dust blow from deserts or volcanic eruptions, onto the surface of deep oceans, generating – in a matter of months – rich ocean pastures, teeming fish stocks and an array of marine wildlife. Studies of ocean kelp regeneration show the full range of real-life impacts, from increased protein sources for human consumption, to restoration of pre-industrial levels of ocean biodiversity and productivity, and extensive carbon sequestration.

Extending the scale and number of ocean pastures could be achieved by systematically scattering iron-rich dust onto target areas in oceans around the world. The approach is intuitively scalable, and could sequester perhaps 30 billion tons per year of CO2 if 3% or so of the world’s deep oceans were to be treated annually.

Dust particles flickering in ocean water. thinkhubstudio/Shutterstock

Largescale carbon-sink creation of this kind is pivotal if the atmosphere is to return to pre-industrial CO2 levels. A billion tons per year of sequestration is the minimum threshold coordinated by the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge given the intensity of the climate crisis. While the scale of intervention is sometimes called “geoengineering”, the approach is closer to forest planting or mangrove restoration. The aim is to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using natural means, to return us to pre-industrial levels within a single generation.

Repairing the planet

The immediate challenge is to stabilise the planet, achieving a manageable equilibrium that gives a last chance to shift to renewable energy and towards a circular global economy, with new norms in urban, rural and ocean management. “Repairing” systematically seeks to draw the Earth back from climate tipping points (which, by definition, cannot happen without direct effort), providing a supporting framework in which “reduce” and “restore” can happen. Political and societal will is needed.

The most urgent effort is to refreeze the Arctic, interrupting a bleak spiral of accelerating ice loss, sea-level rise – and the acceleration of climate change and violent global weather changes that they cause. Arctic temperatures have risen much faster (and increasingly so) than global average temperatures, when compared with pre-industrial levels. Figure 1 shows this clearly from 1850 to the present day.

Melting Arctic ice embodies a powerful feedback force in climate change. White ice reflects the Sun’s energy away from the Earth before it can heat the surface. This is known as the albedo effect. As ice melts, dark-blue seawater absorbs increasing amounts of the Sun’s energy, warming increases, and ever-larger areas of ice disappear each summer, expanding the acceleration. Arctic temperatures govern winds, ocean currents and weather systems across the globe.

A tipping point is passing: sea-ice loss is becoming permanent and accelerating; Greenland ice will follow and will eventually raise global sea-levels by over seven metres. Total loss may take centuries but, decade by decade, there will be relentless incremental impacts. By mid-century the melting will be irreversible, and sea-level rise alone will leave low-lying countries like Vietnam in desperate circumstances, with reductions to global rice production a certainty, many millions of climate refugees and no obvious pathway forward for such nations.

Figure 1: comparison between average global temperature change, and change in the Arctic region from 1850 to present day. Provided by Nerilie Abram using IPCC data, ANU, Australia, 2021

The rapid Arctic temperature increase is matched by the rapid and accelerating loss in minimum (summer) sea-ice volume (Figure 2), which further accelerates the temperature rise in a spiral of reinforcing feedback loops.

Figure 2: decline in annual minimum Arctic Sea ice volume 1980-2020. Provided by Nerilie Abram using IPCC data, ANU, Australia, 2021

It is vital to pivot the world back from this ice-melt tipping point, and to repair the Arctic as rapidly as possible. Marine cloud brightening in which floating solar-powered pumps spray salt upwards to brighten clouds and create a reflective barrier between the Sun and the ocean, is known to cool ocean surfaces and is a promising way to promote Arctic summer cooling. It mimics nature, and can be scaled up or down in a flexible way. Studies of marine cloud brightening, its climate impacts and interactions with human systems, are underway.

As with promotion of ocean pastures, such solutions must be critically analysed, but there is no longer any doubt of their crucial importance.

What we do in the next five years determines the viability of humanity’s future. Even if we narrow our aspirations to “survival”, fixing on a timescale of 50 years or so, the challenges are daunting. Humanity deserves better. We know what to do to be able to imagine thousands of years of human civilisation ahead, as well as behind us.

David King, Founder and Chair, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge, University of Cambridge and Jane Lichtenstein, Associate, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge, University of Cambridge

Read the original article.

 

IPCC climate report is a “call to arms”

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The recently published IPCC climate report is a “call to arms” say architects and designers. The story by Jennifer Hahn in Dezeen is as realistic as can be but still nonetheless worrying for mainly its grip on reality could perhaps be a little exaggerated. It is so because the impact of the aforesaid professions over the resulting built environment worldwide should not excessively be overestimated but despite all that, it is still a vivid illustration of our nowadays life in today’s world.

IPCC climate report a “call to arms” say architects and designers


The latest IPCC climate report offers a “nugget of hope” but architects and designers must “make changes to the way they design” to help avert catastrophic climate change, according to Architects Climate Action Network and other UK climate pressure groups.

The report should “act as a propellant to their efforts to decarbonise,” said Joe Giddings of ACAN, while design collective URGE said it “should make designers completely rethink our idea of success”.

Architects Declare said “we need rapid system change” to avert disaster.

Every tonne of emissions makes a difference

Released on Monday in preparation for November’s COP26 summit, the landmark report found that limiting global warming to the crucial 1.5-degree threshold set out in the Paris Agreement is now virtually impossible.

But the report also outlines that “immediate, rapid and large-scale” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions could still help to stabilise global temperatures around this threshold.

This would dramatically reduce the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, compared to a warming of two degrees or more above pre-industrial levels.

Above: every increment of global warming drastically increases annual mean temperatures. Top image: wildfires have already ravaged countries like Turkey this year

The built environment, which is responsible for around 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, will have its own dedicated day at the COP26 conference, where signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement will convene to decide their course of action based on the latest data.

“The message was clear from the IPCC,” ACAN’s Giddings told Dezeen. “Every single tonne of carbon dioxide emissions that we prevent helps to lessen the impact of human-induced climate change and the extreme weather events it causes.”

“For architects designing new buildings that are often responsible for a tonne of CO2 per square meter of construction, this nugget of hope from the scientists should act as a propellant to their efforts to decarbonise,” he added.

“I hope this motivates architects to really make changes to the way they design. Everything you draw, every choice you make matters.”

Design needs to be regenerative, carbon-negative and disaster resistant

Sophie Thomas, co-founder of environmental creative collective URGE, argued that “design needs to shift completely” in the face of the new data. “Old models don’t apply now unless we are all happy to be part of the problem,” she said.

“We need to urgently get to the point where everything we do is delivering a net positive impact,” added URGE co-founder Michael Pawlyn.

“I think the latest climate science should make designers completely rethink our idea of success. What would it mean to be successful in perpetuating a system that will destroy the future for billions of people?”

Every 0.5 degrees of warming increases precipitation in certain regions while causing droughts in others

Climate change action group Architects Declare argues that this would need to go hand in hand with regulatory measures imposed at a government level.

“A world in which humanity can flourish within planetary boundaries is still possible and within reach but we need rapid system change if we are to achieve this,” architect Andrew Waugh said on behalf of the collective.

“Today, we call once again on our government to engage with us in meaningful dialogue about how we can collectively rise to this challenge.”

Assael Architecture director Rory O’Hagan argued that the data should inspire architects to create buildings that are resilient to climate change without further contributing to it.

“The report’s findings serve as a call to arms to ensure that the sustainable buildings we design are resilient and flexible in the face of ever more volatile weather patterns,” he said.

“Recent flash floods in the UK, China and Germany and extreme heat fatalities in Australia and Canada, exacerbated by heat-absorbing surfaces and poor ventilation, have exposed the critical vulnerability of building unprepared for the climate crisis.”

1.5 degrees of warming will bring “irreversible” changes

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s leading authority on climate change and its first report since 2013 is based on the expertise of more than 200 scientists and thousands of peer-reviewed studies collated over the last eight years.

The report, which was released as wildfires burned around the world, concluded that global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This is “unequivocally” a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, it states, as concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere have reached their highest level in two million years.

It also forecasts five possible scenarios based on different levels of future emissions, all of which result in 1.5 degrees of warming or more by 2040, smashing the Paris Agreement goals.

An upended ecosystem in the Arabian Sea

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An upended ecosystem in the Arabian Sea by NASA, picked up by Phys.org, should be a good illustration of the changes that must concern all the people of the Middle East, eastern Africa, and south west Asia. According to this article, an estimated 150 million people around the region rely on that portion of the Indian Ocean for their daily life and above all for their economic development. So, let us see what it is all about.

An upended ecosystem in the Arabian Sea

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

How can snow cover on the Himalayas influence the species that thrive in the Arabian Sea? How could changes in wind speed and humidity lead to food and national security concerns a thousand kilometers away? Joaquim Goes, Helga do Rosario Gomes, and colleagues on two continents have spent the past two decades trying to decode these riddles.

The story begins in the early 2000s, around the time that NASA’s Aqua satellite was launched. Goes, a specialist in remote sensing of the ocean, was examining data from SeaWiFS and Aqua. He was focused on chlorophyll-a, a pigment used by ocean phytoplankton (and plants worldwide) to harness sunlight and turn it into food energy. He was focusing on observations of phytoplankton populations in the Arabian Sea during the summer monsoon, but by chance he looked at winter data. There was far more chlorophyll-a than anyone should reasonably expect.

At first Goes thought it was an error. But over the next decade, reports of increasing algae and decreasing fish catches came in from colleagues in southern Asia. Goes and Gomes made several sea-going expeditions and saw it for themselves: The Arabian Sea was teeming with Noctiluca scintillans, an organism that was scarcely reported in the region during previous winters.

The image above shows a bloom of Noctiluca scintillans in 2019, as observed by the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite. The floating, microscopic organisms are dinoflagellates living in a symbiotic relationship with green algal cells. Like ocean phytoplankton, Noctiluca scintillans can multiply rapidly under the right conditions. (Noctiluca often thrive in low-oxygen “hypoxic” waters.) Drifting with currents, they aggregate into vast masses near the surface. In the process, they can deplete oxygen in the sea, compete with other phytoplankton for nutrients or consume them for food, and suffocate small zooplankton predators in hypoxic “dead zones.” Refer to featured image above, Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

“The changes we have seen in the Arabian Sea ecosystem are among the fastest of any oceanic water body on our planet,” said Goes, a scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “The habitat of the sea is changing, and that is short-circuiting the food chain.”

How and why Noctiluca has blossomed in the Arabian Sea is a complicated story of interconnections between Earth systems and the unexpected ripples that propagate from global warming.

Across human history, the Arabian Sea has been strongly influenced by monsoon winds that reverse direction seasonally and change the direction of ocean currents. In winters past, air temperatures over the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau and southern Asia would drop significantly and cause dry, northeasterly winds to blow out over the Arabian Sea. In turn, the cooling of the surface waters and changes in density would propagate through the water column, moving the pycnocline—where water density changes due to salinity and/or temperature—up and down. The depth of this ocean layer affects how nutrients well up from the depths and fuel the growth of phytoplankton.

These winter shifts in currents and nutrient availability once fueled blooms of diatoms, another type of phytoplankton. The diatoms were a key link in an ocean food chain that fed copepods and finfish through the winter and, ultimately, humans who caught those fish.

But with global warming in recent decades, less snow cover has been falling and accumulating on the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau and more snow and ice has been melting. Temperatures over the highlands and lowlands have been rising, as has the humidity. In the past two decades, the winter winds blowing over the Arabian Sea have become warmer, calmer, and more humid. As a result, the seas churn less and there are fewer nutrients for diatoms and most other phytoplankton.

“With calmer and warmer winds and waters, there is less ventilation and mixing,” said Helga do Rosario Gomes, a biological oceanographer, also at Lamont-Doherty. “This leads to more stratification and less nitrate enrichment from below. In some cases, it is causing hypoxia.”

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Those changes have been pretty much perfect for Noctiluca scintillans. Unlike diatoms, Noctiluca can thrive when there are fewer dissolved nutrients in the water. The plots above show the coincident changes from 1980 to 2018 in the extent of snow cover over the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau, the depth of the mixed layer in the Arabian Sea in winter, and the concentration of chlorophyll-a (an indicator of phytoplankton). The “anomaly” plots show how much each year was above or below the long-term mean for each variable. Snow extent and the depth of the mixed layer have been steadily declining, while wintertime blooms have been increasing.

“The changes observed in the Arabian Sea are an example of potential ecosystem changes that are induced by climate change,” said Laura Lorenzoni, ocean biology and biogeochemistry program scientist for NASA. “As Earth warms, we can expect greater stratification in the ocean and the migration of species poleward. There will also be greater chances of harmful algal blooms and of some more resilient species outcompeting others and shifting the entire ecosystem structure.”

Scientists have modeled and speculated for years that global warming could change the snow and ice cover on the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and that the effects might ripple across the sea. The belief was that the Arabian Sea would become less productive from December to March. Instead, it has become more productive, but for an entirely different set of creatures.

“There are far less diatoms now, and so there is a clear loss of biodiversity,” said Gomes. “There used to be more copepods, sardines, kingfish, mackerel, and pelagic fish.” The plankton and diatoms have been replaced by mats of Noctiluca scintillans and an over-abundance of jellyfish and salps. The finfish have been replaced by turtles, squid, and animals that can survive in lower oxygen environments.

In a 2020 research paper, Goes and Gomes used ocean color data from NASA and snow and ice cover data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center to piece the puzzle together. They found that winter chlorophyll-a in the Arabian Sea has been increasing steadily since the 1990s—as much as four times higher in some winters. Chlorophyll-a is a key pigment in ocean phytoplankton, including Noctiluca scintillans. The map above shows the trend—mostly increasing—in the Arabian Sea from 1996 to 2018.

1996 – 2018. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The result is trouble for fisheries, particularly in a region with a lot of artisinal and subsistence fishing. “We are passing a tipping point,” said Goes. “The food chain has been turned upside down.”

The changes are trouble for the people of the Middle East, eastern Africa, and southern Asia. An estimated 150 million people around the region rely on fishing for food and economic development. Yet the surplus of jellyfish and salps and the decrease in diatoms has depleted the food supply for edible fish.”

“There will be cascading effects that will probably affect food availability for several countries in the region,” Goes said. “Noctiluca blooms, jellyfish, and salps are also posing huge challenges to desalination plants along the coast that supply freshwater to coastal Oman.” Masses of jellyfish have been known to clog seawater intake pipes.

And the change to Noctiluca-dominated waters has an unusual ripple effect on national security. Noctiluca scintillans are bioluminescent: they glow when stimulated and this is especially visible at night. This trait can be used to track the movements of ships that churn up the plankton as they cruise. Sailors and pilots have been following such sparkling tracks for decades.

“There are many examples of phytoplankton running amok around the planet,” said Norman Kuring, a scientist in NASA’s Ocean Biology Group. “The Baltic Sea has a new summertime normal of toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Green algae routinely clog the waters around China’s Shandong Peninsula. Sargassum is becoming a real headache in the Caribbean. Lakes in the United States and globally are becoming increasingly eutrophic. There are troubling suggestions by respected scientists that our oceans may be headed towards a hypoxic, bacteria-dominated future.”

Jordan’s water crisis offers a warning for the world

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The Kingdom of Jordan’s per capita water supply will be halved by end of the century, a report says that its water crisis offers a warning for the world. Jordan Times informs on the dire prospects of water scarcity in a literally land locked desert country and not only in the region but all around the globe. Let us see what is going on in Jordan.

Jordan’s water crisis offers a warning for world — report

By Batool Ghaith 

A Syrian refugee carries water at Zaatari camp, some 80km northeast of Amman, in this photo taken on January 28, 2018 (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — Jordan’s per capita water supply will be halved by the end of the century due to dwindling water supplies and a growing population, according to a report by Laboratory News.

Laboratory News has been providing scientists with independent news and analysis since 1971, according to its website.

The report, “Jordan’s Water Crisis Should Be a Warning for the World”, issued in March, indicated that Jordan’s water supply is rapidly decreasing due to climate change, population growth, demographic shocks and heightened competition for water across country boundaries. The same challenges could affect global water supplies in the future.

The report warned that without intervention, only a few households in the Kingdom will have access to even 40 litres (10.5 gallons) of piped water per person per day.

According to the report, low-income neighbourhoods will be hit the hardest. Ninety-one per cent of low-income households are predicted to receive less than 40 litres daily for 11 consecutive months per year by 2100, the report said.

The report noted that Jordan’s water crisis provides a glimpse of issues looming in other parts of the world. For instance, as a result of upstream diversion in Palestine and Syria, water flows from the Jordan-Yarmouk river system, the region’s largest river system, have significantly decreased. 

Demand for water has climbed largely due to population growth exacerbated by the arrival of refugees, including more than 1 million Syrian refugees in the past decade, the report added.

The report pointed out that the UN has committed to ensuring sustainable freshwater management and universal access to clean water and sanitation as one of its 17 sustainable development goals. The World Health Organisation estimates that half of humanity may live in water-stressed areas by 2025. The UN estimates that water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

The most effective step Jordan can take to increase supply is through large-scale desalination. One proposal Jordan has pursued since the 1960s would desalinate water from the Red Sea in the south, transport the freshwater north to Amman and then dispose of the leftover, highly salinated water in the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea, the report indicated.

Dureid Mahasneh, the chairman of the Edama (Sustainability of Water, Energy and Environment) Society, stressed the importance of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project (RSDSC). He described the project as “the only way to not end up with half the water demand per capita in Jordan by the end of the century”. 

According to Mahasneh, the project is currently stopped.

Mahasneh told The Jordan Times on Sunday that Jordan’s water crisis depends on many factors, but most importantly the rapidly growing population compared to the available water sources. “The Syrian crisis alone caused the population to increase in the Kingdom by approximately 15 percent, which is an abnormal growth,” he added. 

Mahasneh noted that the water resources in Jordan are greatly affected by climate change, as the increasing temperatures induce faster water evaporation. “In previous years, we used to have 9 to 10 billion cubic metres of rainfall; however, in recent years it is impossible to even reach 3 billion cubic metres. We can only sustain 7 to 10 per cent of it,” he said.

The agriculture industry consumes at least 60 per cent of the water resources in Jordan, while the economic return is less than 5 per cent, Mahasneh said. He stated how this indicates a problem with water management. 

“There are multiple issues that require strong deterrent laws in order to prevent some individuals from stealing and misusing water as well,” Mahasneh said.