Saturday, September 26, 2009

Egypt: Climate change sees dark future

Bikya Masr: Egypt could be heading for disaster. Although numerous scenarios are being espoused, two things are certain in all of them: Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city will disappear and the North African is in for some troublesome years ahead.

“Many of the towns and urban areas in the north of the Delta will suffer from the rise in the level of the Mediterranean with effect from 2020 and about 15 percent of Delta land is under threat from the rising sea level and the seepage into the ground water,” Environment Minister George Maged told a parliamentary committee earlier this year. He said joint studies by his ministry and the United Nations have assessed the situation to be urgent, adding that Egypt is planning to start an international campaign for solutions.

Is he being too hasty with predictions that in less than 15 years portions of the Delta region in northern Egypt will be submerged? Analysts tend to think just that.

“Of course this is exaggerated. I think it’s a gross misunderstanding,” Mostapha Saleh, head of Environment Quality International in Egypt, said. He says the minister was over stating the realities in order to create international awareness of the situation facing the country, which he says could become “critical.” Saleh believes the situation facing Egypt is in need of attention, but according to the data he has seen “if sea levels rise by one meter that would bring water inland 60 to 70 kilometers (35 miles), so it is not necessarily a large portion of the Delta.”
According to Mohamed Al Raey of Alexandria University, the threat to the Delta region – an alluvial plain that sits only a few meters (about 8 feet) above sea level – needs to be watched. He says in an article in Al Ahram Weekly that climate change could lead “to an increase in the frequency and severity of sandstorms, and longer periods of drought followed by more intense flooding. This is expected to lead to public health problems, including the spread of epidemics, especially in poorer regions.”…

The fortifications of Alexandria, from Coureurs des mers, Poivre d'Arvor.

No comments: