Focus: A Process Already Underway (9-9)

Surprisingly fast-melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic will only intensify the impact of climate change. An anticipated rise in sea level of eight inches by 2050 could double coastal flooding in tropical latitudes — with devastating impacts on millions of people in low-lying Bangladesh and the mega-cities of southeastern Asia from Mumbai to Saigon and Guangzhou. Melt water from Greenland is also disrupting the North Atlantic’s “overturning circulation” that regulates the region’s climate and is destined to produce yet more extreme weather events. Meanwhile, Antarctic melt water will trap warm water under the surface, accelerating the break-up of the West Antarctic ice shelf and contributing to a rise in ocean levels that could hit 20 inches by 2100.
In sum, an ever-escalating tempo of climate change over the coming decades is likely to produce massive damage to the infrastructure that sustains human life. Seven hundred years later, humanity could be facing another catastrophe on the scale of the Black Death, one that might, once again, set the world in motion.
The geopolitical impact of climate change may be felt most immediately in the Mediterranean basin, home to 466 million people, where temperatures in 2016 had already reached 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  (The current global average was still around 0.85 degrees.)  This means that the threat of devastating drought is going to be brought to a historically dry region bordered by sprawling deserts in North Africa and the Middle East. In a telling example of how climate catastrophe can erase an entire world order, around 1200 BC the eastern Mediterranean suffered a protracted drought that “caused crop failures, dearth, and famine,” sweeping away Late Bronze Age civilizations like the Greek Mycenaean cities, the Hittite empire, and the New Kingdom in Egypt.
From 2007 to 2010, ongoing global warming caused the “worst three-year drought” in Syria’s recorded history — precipitating unrest marked by “massive agricultural failures” that drove 1.5 million people into city slums and, next, by a devastating civil war that, starting in 2011, forced five million refugees to flee that country. As more than a million migrants, led by 350,000 Syrians, poured into Europe in 2015, the European Union (EU) plunged into political crisis.
Anti-immigrant parties soon gained in popularity and power across the continent while Britain voted for its own chaotic Brexit. Projecting the Middle East’s history, ancient and modern, into the near future, the ingredients for a regional crisis with serious global ramifications are clearly present. Just last month, the U.S. National Intelligence Council warned that “climate hazards,” such as “heat waves [and] droughts,” were increasing “social unrest, migration, and interstate tension in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Jordan.”
If we translate those sparse words into a future scenario, sometime before 2040 when average global warming is likely to reach that dangerous 1.5 degrees Celsius mark, the Middle East will likely experience a disastrous temperature rise of 2.3 degrees. Such intense heat will produce protracted droughts far worse than the one that destroyed those Bronze Age civilizations, potentially devastating agriculture and sparking water wars among the nations that share the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, while sending yet more millions of refugees fleeing toward Europe. Under such unprecedented pressure, far-right parties might take power across the continent and the EU could rupture as every nation seals its borders. NATO, suffering a “severe crisis” since the Trump years, might simply implode, creating a strategic vacuum that finally allows Russia to seize Ukraine and the Baltic states. Modified from Tomdispatch

Alfateh Ziada

Focus
Email: zeyadaaa123 @gmail.com
Alfateh Ziada

Latest posts by Alfateh Ziada (see all)

Alfateh Ziada

Alfateh Ziada

Focus Email: zeyadaaa123 @gmail.com

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *