Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Egypt's looming climate change nightmare.

Burning of the Library of Alexandria was one of the worst catastrophes of ancient times. The coming inundation of Alexandria might be even worse, or so says Mohammed Yahia in the Journal of the Turkish Weekly. The Nile Delta is quite vulnerable to sea level rise, and the region is the source of much of Egypt’s food. Losing the rich riverine soil to the waves would seriously compromise Egyptian agriculture and food security.

Yahia translates talk of thermal expansion and the Greenland ice into consequences for Egypt. He points out that Egypt is right behind Bangladesh and Vietnam in vulnerability to rising water. What’s more, Egypt faces a wide range of ecological stresses. Beaches are disappearing, coastal storms are more numerous and severe than they were a few decades ago. And a chronic problem stems from the loss of nutrient flow into the Mediterranean from the construction of the Aswan Dam in the 1950s.

The political will to address these issues is hard to come by even for wealthy countries, and Egypt isn't wealthy. Many in Egypt and elsewhere fear that the actions to address all these impacts will be late and haphazard.

Satellite photo of the Nile Delta by NASA

No comments: