Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Egypt threatened by climate change

Linda S. Heard in the Online Journal: … There is real concern in Egypt’s second largest city due to recent media reports based on scientific studies warning that a mere 25 centimetre rise in sea levels would force 60 percent of Alexandria’s population to relocate while a 50 centimetre rise would be even more devastating.

…Unfortunately, it seems that Alexandrians are right to be concerned. Climate change experts attending a conference hosted last week by the National Water Research Council in association with the Arab League and the United Nations Development Programme are taking the threat very seriously. They warned that large parts of the Delta risk being submerged, when seawater will merge with underground fresh water, affecting the productivity of soil. Also anticipated are sandstorms, drought and epidemics.

Similar gloomy predictions are found in a 2004 report issued by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which urges the government to take such measures as depositing sand on open beaches, creating artificial dunes as storm buffers and constructing breakwaters and dikes. The problem is such measures are too costly for Egypt to implement without financial assistance from the international community. There is also little sense of urgency within government because experts cannot agree upon a timescale for the danger, with estimates ranging from 10 years to 90 years.

…Unfortunately, flooding isn’t the only potential catastrophe that is looming over the most populous Arab nation due to climate change. Thanks to major ice thaws, an Arctic Ocean sea route has opened up to cargo vessels sailing between Europe and Asia. The new route is being operated by Russia, which is billing it as an inexpensive shortcut that will slash fuel costs and obviate the need for ships to pass through the Suez Canal, thus eliminating hefty fees….

Map of ancient Egypt created by James Rennell as an insert for his book "The geographical system of Herodotus examined and explained" (published 1800 and 1830). This map shows Rennell's understanding of the geography of Egypt's Nile delta during the Greek Classical period (510 BC - 323 BC) based on the writings of Herodotus (484 BC - 425 BC).

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