How will climate change affect the UAE?

Climate change is one topic whose significance cannot be overlooked today in the entire globe as it plays a very important role in the future existence of man and his health, as well as the living materials around him. Talking about climate change, we are referring to the gradual alteration in the weather cycle in a specific geographical location. The weather cycle we are talking about includes temperature, rainfall, wind, and other climatic conditions relating to the fore-mentioned ones. These weather conditions usually have a defined structure and time which they occur in different regions, but due to certain factors, this cycle has been obstructed and seems to occur in an unusual way which tends to pose a threat to every habitat within the perimeters of the region. These factors that cause these unusual alterations may be due to;

Human actions; 

  • like deforestation, as well as pollution of air, land, and sea.
  • Disastrous processes on earth; like the occurrence of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.
  • External constraints; such as the falling of meteorites, intensity of solar radiation

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), new shreds of evidence show strongly that human actions contribute a greater percentage to the increasing temperature for the past 50 years. These factors mentioned above thereby result in ecological imbalance, and may further lead to the extinction of some plant and animal species and the appearance of some others.

As far as human health is concerned, climate change has brought about a lot of environmental hazards like Ozone layer depletion, circulation of infectious diseases, as well as the loss of biodiversity. According to scientists, the surface temperature of the earth is predicted to rise by 1.4 – 5.8 degrees Celsius between the years 1990 and 2100. This drastic increase in temperature is likely to result in various changes in the environment like melting of ice, flooding in some parts of the world and drought in other places, the occurrence of natural disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of those countries where the impact of climate change would be felt severely. This is due to its natural position in the arid region of the world and the environmental conditions related to areas like these which include hot weather, low precipitation, drought, as well as high storms. In this piece, we will be focused on climate change and the UAE; How it affects some major components of the environment.

How climate change will affect the UAE

Just as climate change is having an impact on the entire world, the case of the UAE is not different. The Impact will seem to be even more severe due to the nature of the geographical location of the country and the climatic condition associated with the region. 

The recent changes manifesting in climatic conditions is having a great impact on the infrastructural development, human health, as well as other natural habitats in the country, thereby affecting various development sectors, as well as the environment at large.

The UAE is one of the world’s highest production of fossil fuels which further exposes the country to increased climate change due to the gas emissions from these processes. Due to this, the country has been trying its best to cutting down these emissions while still holding to its position in supplying the energy the world needs. Another minor factor that indirectly contributes to climate change in the UAE is the increase in carbon dioxide which is emitted daily which is due to the increasing population of the country which in turn increases the demand for energy, water, as well as other resources needed for daily survival. The country has for long recognized the risks it is exposed to and the probable result in not taking action at all, it is renowned for its stand against climate change and is committed to the fight.

As part of the country’s concern for effective monitoring of climate change, the UAE established international studies put in place to monitor the effects of the increasing carbon dioxide in the open air and how it affects the weather cycle. In 2010, the US center of a research affiliate of Tufts University in Massachusett known as Stockholm Environment institute released a complete report on the city of Abu Dhabi. The report covers detailed information on how climate change will affect infrastructure, as well as the economy, and how they affect the health of residents.

We’ll talk about how climate change impacts common things like Human wellbeing in the UAE, as well as Animals, plants. Also how it affects the surrounding environment like the Air, as well as Sea level. Below are the things that climate change can lead to in the nearest future.

Human illness

The main reason climate change cannot be ignored is the threat it poses to human health. All the effects on other things still all come down to affecting man, as man is the main consumer on earth. Talking of how it affects human health, this can be by a direct impact such as direct exposure to increased heat which occurs as a result of the ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer is that atmospheric layer that serves as a barrier between the sun and the earth surface thereby reducing the heat of the sun hitting the earth directly, but due to human actions such as deforestation and burning activities, these actions attack the ozone layer creating some holes through the layer, the emissions which are supposed to be stopped by this layer starts to penetrate through these loopholes increasing the heat on the earth. As these insects are exposed to the

Humans can also be affected indirectly through disease-carrying insects. Well, you might be wondering how this relates to climate change. Do you know insects have a higher tendency of survival during the warm season than during the cold seasons? If you never knew this, now you know. Due to the warmer conditions which are on an increase as a result of climate change, it creates a favorable environment for them to breed in numbers, thereby causing health havoc to man as man is their main host. Also, another indirect way it will affect humans is the inconsistent rainfall which is bound to make waterborne disease viral and become more dangerous to human health. If all these persist for a long time, more deaths due to illnesses will be recorded in the country, and if not taken care of, might eventually lead to the extinction of man, not only in the UAE but in the entire globe. 

Water Shortage

A big threat global warming will trigger in the UAE is the shortage of available fresh water in the underground aquifer. Even though the UAE is known from the inception to lack sufficient fresh water. The country depends mostly on the desalination process to get drinking water. This threat is set to even be on an increase in climate change. Some parts of the country will suffer frequent floods while most parts may suffer intense drought and become worsened in parts that are already experiencing drought. This is likely to extend even outside the UAE as a lot of areas will face the same problem. The salinity of the already salty water will increase thereby requiring more processes for purification. With time, these salty water sources may begin to penetrate to the ground, polluting the freshwater aquifer. 

We have covered about how UAE gets its water here.

Loss of Plants and Animals 

Talking about humans without putting plants and animals into consideration is just an unbalanced equation as man’s survival depends directly on three things which are; Oxygen, water, and food. Taking one out of the equation, all you see are dead bodies all over. Talking of food, the main sources of food for man are plants and animals.

The UAE is already known for being poor when it comes to farming due to the nature of its land condition being an arid region. Even with that, the increasing intense temperature will further pose more threat to the little that is still able to be cultivated in the country. The lack of water and the very hot temperature will trigger draught which will in turn cause plants to suffer growth, there will be an increase in pests and diseases attacking them also due to the favorable weather condition for insect pest. This will lead to alterations in plant species, and will in turn lead to a decline in agricultural produce and shortage of local food supply in the UAE. The available salty water won’t be fit for plants.

Animals too would not be left out in the disaster as they directly or indirectly still depend on plants for their survival. The chain is all connected, such that an attack on one hits the rest so hard. Animals will suffer from malnutrition as well as attack from pests and diseases. This will lead to lots of illnesses amongst animals and death in the long run, some animals may even go into extinction forever if they are not able to cope with the condition.

Part of plans to tackle this challenge is the introduction of drought-resistant plants which will be able to survive severe water shortages as well as very harsh weather. This is an ongoing project since climate change seems like a condition that cannot be controlled, the best solution is to look for alternative ways to move on amidst the climate change while still looking for lasting solutions to stop it.

Air Pollution

Global warming meeting with the already polluted atmosphere in the UAE is indeed a disaster to human health on its own. Carbon oxide from car exhausts, from the greenhouses, as well as emissions from air conditioners, power stations, and desalination plants all, produce gases because they mostly run on carbon fuel. These emissions combining with the heat form compounds that become toxic to man at some level. No doubt, these emissions are one of the factors that contribute to the climate change problem, if ways of cutting down these emissions are not put into consideration, the effect might become worsened in a few years.

Increase in sea level

The UAE has a coastline of about 1300 Km. According to predictions, the country could lose about 6% of its developed coastline to the increasingly rising sea levels in the next decade. The coastal areas are also affected by dredging as well as oil-related operations that cause a hazard to the coastal ecosystem and development. Communities that are neighbors to these coasts may begin to experience some unusual conditions in the storm such as the change in frequency, intensity, as well as movement. As the atmospheric temperature rises, the oceans begin to warm up. This rise in temperature triggers thermal expansion thereby increasing the mean level of the sea.

The rise in temperature of the sea surface may be a result of coral bleaching. The UAE is recoded to have experienced disastrous coral bleaching in the past (1996 and 1998). This condition usually affects the reproduction of aquatic lives. During the years of the disastrous event, sea life experienced some mortality rates. During the course, wave conditions could unexpectedly change, causing erosions and altered growth in the aquatic life. Till this moment, with the whole plan that has been drafted within the UAE, no appropriate account has been made over the impact climate change has had on the increasing sea level on coastal areas, as well as on aquatic lives.

Going through all the impacts climate change is exerting on the UAE and the entire globe at large, considering every aspect individually, you will notice that they all still burn down to human survival. Every aspect that is affected by the change still gets back to humans as the main consumer on earth. With studies going around the event, it seems like an unavoidable occurrence that cannot be put under total control by man. For that reason, the entire globe is trying to think beyond climate change, trying to work on ways to still be at full productivity even amidst the global climate change, and the UAE is not left out of the struggle. The UAE has laid down plans to cut the effect of the change to the barest minimum so that even as the change becomes adverse in the next few decades, survival wouldn’t be a problem for its habitats. Below is a little brief of plans the government of UAE has put in place.

UAE’s Effort to combat climate change

The UAE is amongst the top countries that exerted a lot of energy in the fight to annul the effect of climate change on the entire globe. Both locally and Internationally, the country is a member of bodies whose interest is to make researches about climate change, to profer a lasting solution. Some of these bodies are; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol, and some others. It is in solidarity with the agreement signed in 2015 at the 21st conference of UNFCCC that was hosted in Paris. For the record, the UAE is the first in the entire globe to show maximum interest in attachés trained in the field of energy and climate change by placing these trainees in diplomatic positions after obtaining their technical qualifications.

The UAE has a lot of plans and strategies it is using to reduce the effect of climate change. Some of these strategies are;

Energy source diversification

One of the efforts made by the UAE so far is the initiation of the policy that caters to the diversification of the sources of energy in the country. This policy is focused on the generation of renewable energy to cut down the emission of Carbon dioxide into the environment. To further buttress the country’s interest in renewable energy is the hosting of the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). With recent movements, it is clear that the global community is willing and ready to save the planet from pollution.

UAE’s Green Development 

Another strategy put in place to maintain a sustainable environment not only for the present day but also for the unborn generations is the adoption of the Green Development Strategy which is a branch under the UAE’s Vision2021. The adoption of the green economy will be of great benefit to the environment thereby minimizing the impact of climate change.

Construction of Dams

As a means of conserving water, the UAE has embarked on the construction of dams and barriers all over the country. As of 2013, the total number of dams was 130. These dams have played a part in promoting and improving water resources. These dams serve lots of purposes; most importantly by preventing the risk of floods by accumulating very large amounts of water, also serve as protection for marine life- like mangroves, marine plants. It also serves as a means of development for fish reserves which in turn guarantees food security.

In Conclusion

Discussions on Climate Change is just an inevitable topic as it covers a broad area and effects or affects the economic sectors of the country (Directly or Indirectly). Annulling the effect is therefore needed to be planned against. In the case of the UAE, it is firmly committed to the use of modern innovations and concepts to countering the problem that might arise to threaten the existence of man in the nearest future.

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