A recent study by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyrpus Institute in Nicosia, found that the even with only 2 degrees Celsius of warming from climate change, the MENA region will see temperatures so high that “human habitability is compromised” leading to a potential surge in climate refugees. With over 500 million people living in the region, this could spell disaster for the region itself as well as surrounding area.
Similar to the Arctic, the already extreme weather of the Middle East and North Africa is changing significantly faster than other parts of the globe. The number of “extremely hot days” alone has doubled since 1970. The study notes that by mid-century, even with only a two degrees warming, temperatures during warm periods will not fall below 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) at night, and could reach 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. In combination with the already high temperatures, increasing levels of fine particulate air pollution/desert dust, researchers from the study agreed that climate change may likely result in a “significant deterioration of living conditions.”
With the recent Arab Spring, rise of ISIS and continued instability in the region, a sudden increase in climate refugees has the potential to further destabilize the region. While vastly different scenarios, Europe has seen the potential impact of large migrations of people. If MENA becomes inhospitable for people to live, those 500 million people will have to move elsewhere, potentially crowding already crowded cities in neighboring countries and straining the services of those cities.
The American Security Project has highlighted this as a concern for years. Climate change is already impacting our national security through both national and international threats. For more information on current and future threats on national security, click here. For more information on threats to global security, click here.