A combination of changes in land use, increasing pollution, and declining biodiversity resulted in the recent acceleration of climate change, and the existing environmental problems in the Mediterranean Basin, according to the findings of a recent study published on Monday.
The findings of the study which appeared in the Nature Climate Change journal, pointed out that for five broad and interconnected impact domains (water, ecosystems, food, health and security), the current change in climate change, and future scenarios, consistently point to significant and increasing risks during the coming decades.
In order to face the impacts of climate change, policies of sustainable development of the Mediterranean countries need to mitigate these risks, and consider adaptation options, but currently lack adequate information — particularly for the most vulnerable southern Mediterranean societies, where fewer systematic observations schemes, and impact models are based, the study read.
Egypt, as one of the Mediterranean countries, is a typical example of a developing country which is highly vulnerable to climate change, and is facing numerous threats to its economic, social, and environmental sustainability, according to a previous study by the World Resources Institute.
According to the recent study Egypt could face sharp reductions in its yields’ production by 2050, including 40% for legume production. In southern Europe a reduction of 12% for sunflowers, and 14% for tuber crops have been estimated.
Warming will also affect olive production by increasing irrigation requirements, the risk of heat stress around flowering, and the lack of chilling accumulation (time with cold weather required for blossoming), and by altering fly infestation risk.
The study said that port cities on the Mediterranean Sea, with over one million inhabitants are considered at increasing risk from severe storm-surge flooding, rising sea levels, and local land subsidence.
By 2050, for lower sea-level rise scenarios and current adaptation measures, cities in the Mediterranean will account for half of the 20 global cities with the highest increase in average annual damages. Those areas at extremely high risk are predominantly located in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, including Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine and Syria, most of which are presently subject to political instability, and thus unable to deal with additional environmental pressures. In North African countries, 1m rise in sea-level would impact approximately 41,500 km of the Mediterranean territory, and at least 37 million people.
Coastal areas suffer from the intrusion of saltwater, and this will increase as sea levels rise. In Egypt, about 30% of irrigated farmlands are affected by salt intrusion. Of the Northern cultivated land, and both Central and Southern Delta regions, 60% and 20% are considered salt-affected soils, respectively. This environmental degradation pushes Egypt’s increasing population into increasingly more concentrated areas, according to the study.
The Nile Delta is already subsiding at a rate of 3-5 millimetres per year. A rise of 1m would flood one-fourth of the region, forcing about 10.5% of Egypt’s population from their homes, according to the World Bank.