Persian gulf might become uninhabitable this century

Researchers of the Massuchusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) warn that if greenhouse gas emissions will not be curbed, large parts of the Persian Gulf could become uninhabitable at the end of this century. Once every decade heat waves might occur  in which the combination of temperature and humidity (the so-called “wet bulb temperature”) will exceed the equivalent of 35 degrees Celsius at 100% humidity. If such conditions are sustained for several hours they become fatal to the human body.

Extreme conditions such as these may lead to conflict and climate migration. Another study early 2018 points out that drought in Syria gave rise to more than one million domestic emigrants and how subsequently hopelessness in cities gave rise to an escalation of violence.

In the figure below two scenario’s of the IPPC, under which temperature in some areas of the Persian Gulf can reach 60 degrees Celsius at the end of the 21st century.

U.S. not prepared for domestic climate migration

The latest edition of the National Climate Assessment of the United States, a report written by over 300 scientist, warns that because of climate change millions of inhabitants of the United States will migrate inland. The U.S. is not prepared.

States from which people will leave are, according to the authors, amongst others Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

The report does not predict when the flows of migrants can be expected. The authors do conclude that communities are not acting sufficiently.

The many faces of climate change

The effects of climate change are many. And the  changes it triggers add up. Many studies and news articles deal with a single risk of climate change. The authors of a recent study in Nature Climate Change though, analysed thousands of peer-reviewed papers and detail 467 ways in which climate change has already impacted human health, food supply, quality of freshwater, infrastructure and safety.

The researchers have built an interactive map.  It shows what hazards are to be expected in different locations unders different scenarios.

Massive climate migration not to be expected

The picture of mass cross-border climate migration is not correct. According to NRC journalist Paul Luttikhuis citing migration researcher Ingrid Boas in a Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad in October 2018.

According to Boas,  leaving somewhere to never return is an extreme move. When people have to leave their home, they return as soon as possible. And if departure is ultimately inevitable, people will go to nearby regions and will not migrate internationally. She bases her studies on areas in Bangladesh where climate change increasingly influences daily life.

The figure of more than 200 million climate refugees in 2050 (by Norman Myers) is, according to critics, ‘guesswork’. It assumes that people are more willing to leave a country than they actually are.

2018: Forest fires in Europe

Right now, in the middle of the winter, we have almost forgotten how extremely dry and hot the summer in Europe was. In July more than 74 people died in a single fire in Greece. Heat waves caused forest fires from Spain to Norway and from Greece to Latvia.

The number of forest fires in Sweden may be exemplary: At the end of July 2018, around 80 forest fires raged in Sweden and a total of 30,000 hectares were burned. That was twice as much as the record year 2014, more than 10 times as much as normal and the most extensive since the 19th century. Summer temperatures in Sweden typically hit the low 20s; in the summer of 2018 there was a heat wave with temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius.

In contrast to the actual situation last summer, a European research agency (the Joint Research Center) predicts an increase in forest fires in the Mediterranean region, but not in Scandinavia.