Climate Change Causing Extreme Drought in Iraq, Syria, Iran
A new scientific study has found that the severe drought currently gripping Iraq, Syria, and Iran is almost entirely due to climate change caused by human activity. The report, released by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, warned that these punishing dry spells will only become more intense as global temperatures continue to rise.
The study found that the high temperatures brought on by human-induced climate change made the drought significantly more likely to occur, increasing the chances of such an event by 25 times in Syria and Iraq and 16 times in Iran. The scientists involved in the study stated that in a world just 1.2 degrees Celsius cooler, the drought would not have been classified as such.
The impact of the extreme drought has been particularly severe in Iran and the basin of the Tigris and the Euphrates, the rivers that cross Syria and Iraq. The lack of rainfall and high temperatures have led to agricultural and water access problems in these regions.
Co-author Friederike Otto from the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London commented on the devastating impacts, saying, “After quite good rains in 2020 and good harvests, three years of very low rainfalls followed with very high temperatures led to a drought with very severe impacts on agricultural access to potable water.”
The researchers also pointed out that ongoing conflict and political instability in the region have made it even more difficult for people to respond to the drought, resulting in a humanitarian disaster.
This long-lasting and severe drought is no longer considered a rare event, as similar conditions can be expected to occur once every decade in Syria and Iraq, and twice every decade in Iran. If global temperatures continue to rise, these regions will become even harsher places to live.
In both Iraq and Syria, the drought’s impacts have been observed by journalists, highlighting the impact on vulnerable populations. Reduced agricultural production and water pollution have affected farmers and fishermen, while conflicts over water have led to tensions between countries.
The study also noted that in September 2022, the drought had displaced nearly two million people living in rural areas in Syria, and it has led to water shortages in Iran, resulting in tensions with neighboring countries and soaring food prices. One in five citizens in Iraq, a country of 43 million people, is already suffering from water insecurity, according to a recent UN report.
In conclusion, the scientists involved in this study emphasize the urgent need for better resource management in the region, particularly in light of the threat of climate change, where every degree of warming will have severe consequences.