change is likely to reduce agricultural production and exacerbate
water shortages in the Middle East, threatening the regions
poor and elevating the risk of conflict over scarce resources,
the UN warned.
Many countries in the Mideast already suffer from a shortage
of arable land and limited access to water necessary to
irrigate crops, but climate change could bring higher temperatures,
droughts, floods and soil degradation, according to a report
released by the UNs Food and Agriculture Organisation
in temperature, rainfall and climactic extremes will only
add to the stress on agricultural resources in a region
where land availability and degradation, food price shocks
and population growth are already a major concern,
said the report.
Hunger and malnutrition caused by climate change will most
likely affect those who are already poor, malnourished or
dependent on local food production, according to the report.
Along with current overuse of renewable water resources,
climate change will severely worsen the situation
of water scarcity in the region by 2050, the report
said. Many of the regions irrigation systems are already
under considerable environmental strain due to salinity,
waterlogging and overuse of groundwater.
One of the stark conclusions from the report was that an
additional 155 to 600 million people may experience an increase
in water stress caused by a few degree rise in temperature.
temperature increases reach 3º or 4ºC, the impacts will
be strongest across Western Asia and the Middle East, where
yields of the predominant regional crops may fall by 23
to 35 per cent with weak carbon fertilisation, or 15 to
20 per cent with strong carbon fertilisation, said
Many Mideast countries are already wheat and rice importers,
and climate change may increase their reliance on imports
at a time of rising prices.