Tuesday, June 02, 2009
160 Syrian Villages Deserted Due To Climate Change
DAMASCUS (AFP) – Some 160 villages in northern Syria were deserted by their residents in 2007 and 2008 because of climate change, according to a study released on Tuesday.
The report drawn up by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) warns of potential armed conflict for control of water resources in the Middle East.
"The 2007/8 drought caused significant hardship in rural areas of Syria. In the northeast of the country, a reported 160 villages have been entirely abandoned and the inhabitants have had to move to urban areas," it said.
In Syria and also in Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, "climate change threatens to reduce the availability of scarce water resources, increase food insecurity, hinder economic growth and lead to large-scale population movements," the report said.
"This could hold serious implications for peace in the region," the Canada-based institute said.
The study, financed by Denmark, predicts a hotter, drier and less predictable climate in the Middle East, "already considered the world's most water-scarce and where, in many places, demand for water already outstrips supply."
Oli Brown, who co-wrote the report with Alec Crawford, said: "Climate change itself poses real security concerns to the region. It could lead to increased militarisation of strategic natural resources, complicating peace agreements."
"Israel is already using climate change as an excuse to increase their control over the water resources in the region," he said.
In the study's conclusions, Brown and Crawford said: "As a region, the Levant produces a tiny fraction of global emissions -- less than one percent of the world total.
The exception among Levant countries is Israel, "whose emissions -- 11.8 metric tonnes per capita -- exceed the European average of 10.05 tonnes," they said.
"This may exacerbate the existing deep mistrust of the West, including Israel, which would be seen as causing a problem that it is unable or unwilling to resolve," they said.
The study also revealed the challenge posed by population growth.
"The combined population of the Levant will grow to 71 million by 2050 from 42 million in 2008" with major implications for water demand, food supply, housing and jobs, it said.
"Rainfall shrank by 10 millimetres (a year) between 1956 and 2006 while temperatures rose by (an average) 0.5 degrees Celsius, though below the worldwide average of 0.6 degrees," Syrian meteorologist Khales Mawed said.
The IISD predicts even modest global warming would lead to a 30-percent drop in water in the Euphrates, which runs through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, while the Dead Sea would shrink in volume by 80 percent by the end of the century.
The King of Jordan stated that the only thing he would go to war for was water. If a water policy is not agreed to with Israel also having to treat Gaza and other areas more equitably regarding water distribution, that war may come sooner than we think. And actually, that is what the current ongoing war is partly about as it is. It is my contention that the Israeli government wishes to place their settlements right over the two largest acquifers in this area in order to control the water supply. And with climate change and massive pollution taking its toll on the water in this region, I can see nothing but war associated with such a move.
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