Climate Change

Water is a fundamental resource for the survival of the human race. Competition to gain access to clean and useable water, gives birth to fierce political tension. We see this political tension between Palestine and Israel. Israel possesses a superior military, and uses their armed forces to regulate who has access to water. Israel has forbade Palestinian’s access to the Jordan river, and has also placed a limit on how deep a well can be built. Presented with these circumstances, the people of Gaza find themselves facing two very big enemies. The first being Mother Nature, and the second the Israeli Army. Certainly, this leaves Gaza in a very dangerous situation.

As climate change continues to become more severe, the Palestinian government fears for the survival of their people. Receiving pressure to conform to Israeli law, doesn’t leave much room for Palestine to take positive action against climate change. Israel has left Palestine with only one aquifer in Gaza, which is replenished through rain fall. Currently, groundwater is Gaza’s only hope for survival. However, with the severity of climate change increasing so quickly, the sustainability of the groundwater system is put into question. Mother Nature is relentless in her attack. Over the last two decades, the average temperature has increased, while the amount of rainfall has decreased. And because of the increased temperatures, the water collected from rainfall, is subject to evaporation from extreme heat. Moreover, these climate changes are felt on a very personal level.

Access to water in wealthy countries is often taken for granted, however, the people of Gaza surely value every drop they can find. Climate change is resulting in the increase of droughts, and because of this, the percentage of malnourished people in Gaza also increases. A great majority of Gaza’s citizens are malnourished because, there is not enough water available to raise a sufficient supply of crops. As if this were not bad enough for the people of Gaza, flash flooding leaves thousands devastated. Flash flooding is a direct result of climate change, and is responsible for the deaths of thousands. Moreover, flash floods also destroy homes and other possessions, bringing poverty to more innocent victims. Climate change is not only causing droughts, extreme heat, and crop failure, but also poverty. So one may wonder, is anyone interested in helping this poor nation.

Gaza is in desperate need of external assistance. Political tension between Israel and Palestine is expected to increase, as the severity of climate change worsens. Israel’s groundwater system is losing its effectiveness, and as a result, there is a continual decline in those who have access to fresh water. Because of this, not enough food is being produced to sufficiently feed the entire population. It also makes it extremely difficult to earn enough money to support yourself and your family, when droughts and crop failures are the norm. It is essential that a change is made now, in order to secure a better future for Gaza’s inhabitants.

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Annual groundwater recharge for the year 2005, Ajjur and Mogheir

Groundwater is a major source of water for the people who live in the Gaza Strip, but there has been relatively little research to determine the sensitivity of groundwater systems to changes to input parameters such as temperature and precipitation.  There is one aquifer in the Gaza Strip, and the main way that this aquifer is replenished is by rainfall.  A study conducted by Salah Ajjur and Yunes Mogheir found that between 1995 and 2005, rainfall decreased causing a deficit in recharge values for the aquifer, and that this decrease in rainfall was due to climate change. [1. Ajjur, Salah, and Yunes Mogheir. “Effects of Climate Change on Groundwater Resources (Gaza Strip Case Study).” (): n. pag. Print.]  Climate change is obviously a very important issue for the people of the Gaza Strip, but unfortunately, due to the country’s constant struggle with Israel, climate change most likely will not get the attention it deserves.

Climate change’s effects on water in the region will have a bigger impact on Palestinians than it will on Israelis.  As this video states, Israeli authorities are denying Palestinians access to the Jordan River and have restricted the depth of Palestinian wells, leaving only freshwater springs as a source for water.  These springs are becoming a less and less viable option due to climate change.  As the springs continue to dry due to climate change, Palestinians will continue to suffer, and Israelis will continue to enjoy the benefits of a seemingly endless supply of water.  If Israel continues to restrict Palestine’s right to water, there could be grave consequences, and the conflict between the two nations could escalate further.

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A Palestinian boy with the words “I’m hungry” written on his chest takes part in a protest against food shortages in Gaza City in May, Khalil Hamra, AP, 2006

If the trend of climate change continues, the Middle East, including the Gaza Strip, Palestine, and Israel, could be hit with droughts, reduced crop yields, and malnourished citizens.  Agriculture is important in these countries, and there are currently 3.5 million malnourished children in the Middle East and North Africa.  Experts estimate that crop yields will decrease by 30% for rice, 47% for maize, and 20% for wheat.  However, if the climate change trend can be reversed, the number of malnourished can be decreased from 3.5 million to 1 million from the year 2000 to the year 2050.  The reversal of this trend will come at a cost, however.  That cost is annual investments of about 241-271 million USD.  With no likely donor, these children, and the rest of the region, will continue to go hungry, especially if the climate change trend is not reversed. [1. “Publications.” Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ifpri.org/publication/impact-climate-change-agriculture-factsheet-middle-east-and-north-africa>.]

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Change in Participation Map

This image displays the mean monthly participation in order to provide relative change during March in amount of participation in the West Asian and Egyptian area. The section that is Israel and the Gaza Strip has had various changes. The lower section has had a decrease of 10%-25% while the upper section has had a decrease of 0%-5% rainfall. This decrease in rainfall may have huge negative effects on the agriculture and economy of Israel, Palestine, and the Gaza Strip; this can lead to deaths from starvation due to lack of crops and/or water, and a decrease in wealth of all people. This map was found on a website that provides geographic data for anybody. There are maps for every month of the year that can be used for comparisons. [1. “Geographic Data.” GeoNetwork. N.p., n.d. Web <http%3A%2F%2Fgeonet.icarda.cgiar.org%2Fgeonetwork%2Fsrv%2Ffr%2Fmain.present%3Ffrom%3D1%26to%3D10>.]

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Minimum and maximum temperature averages and trends for three decades in the Gaza Strip

This graph depicts the maximum and minimum temperatures of the Gaza Strip over the years 1976 and 2006. The minimum temperature has gone up by 1.73 degrees while the maximum has increased by .55 degrees. The average increase of temperature will cause drastic changes in the lives of the people living in the Gaza Strip. It has been proven that increased temperature can lead to an increase of violence in societies.  The article that this image is taken from is entitled “The Impact of Climate Change and Soil Salinity in Irrigation Water Demand in the Gaza Strip” leading one to believe that the increase in temperature also affects the irrigation, agriculture, and water of the Gaza Strip; leading once again, to deaths, decrease of wealth, and many different sicknesses. [1. “Journal of Earth Science & Climatic Change.” The Impact of Climate Change and Soil Salinity in Irrigation Water Demand in the Gaza Strip. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://omicsonline.org/2157-7617/2157-7617-abstract.php?abstract_id=9043>.]

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Climate Vulnerability of the World

This image is a world map depicting the climate vulnerability of each country in the world. Most vulnerable are the colors purple, red, and pink while least vulnerable are blue, green, and yellow. Most vulnerable countries include many countries that are still developing or underdeveloped. Unfortunately, this means that they have even less money and capabilities to deal with such changes. Therefore, the effects are even worse on the lives of the people living in those countries since they have less capabilities of fighting the climate changes. Most of the vulnerable countries are located in Africa and Asia while the more resilient countries are more spread out. [1. “Mapping Climate Conflict Vulnerability and Victims.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014 <https://www.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/MappingClimateConflictVulnerabilityAndVictims>.]

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Global Impact of Climate Change

Climate change is a global issue that affects many people, especially those in poverty. Poverty tends to be prominent in developing countries, and the poor region of the Gaza Strip is no exception. One issue that climate change has brought up within this region is the problem of climate migrants. Many people are moving out of the region in order to seek refuge in neighboring countries. These “climate migrants” are further disadvantaged when they move, for they are forced to re-establish their livelihoods in a foreign place. Climate change within the Gaza Strip is forcing people to migrate to other areas; this migration has negative effects on the economic and social aspect in that region. [1. “Focus on Syria Project see some ignored in crosshairs of war.” Today’s Insight News. 30, Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/2013_09_01_archive.html>.]

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Palestinian farmers collect wheat stalks in the Gaza Strip, Ismael Mohamad, United Press International, 2010

Due to climate change, there are increasing concerns about how those in the Gaza Strip will be able to provide themselves with food and nutrition from the crops grown in the region. According to a study by the Earth Science and Climatic Change Organization, the increased temperature of 2 degrees centigrade in the region led to an increase in the annual average evapotranspiration. This indicates that because of an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation, farmers will have to increase their already high use of water and irrigation. Furthermore, the impact of salinity in the water on crops will also affect crop production. Because of climate change, farmers in the Gaza Strip are becoming increasingly concerned with how they will be able to provide sustenance for themselves and others in the region. [1. Ashour, Ehab K., Al-Najar, Husam. (2012) “The Impact of Climate Change and Soil Salinity in Irrigation Water Demand in the Gaza Strip.” Earth Science and Climatic Change. 3:120. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.]

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Regional Climate Change in Gaza Strip

As depicted by this graph, the temperature in the Gaza Strip has increased steadily throughout the past two centuries. From 1800 to 2000 and beyond, average temperatures have increased by up to 2.5 degrees centigrade. Although 2.5 degrees centigrade may not seem a lot, it actually is because of the real, devastating effects that the temperature increase has on the region. For example, high temperatures can lead to lower precipitation, which means increased drought and less crop production for people. This, in turn, could lead to the migration of people from this region, which ultimately exacerbates the economic woes. Climate change has brought an increased temperature to the Gaza Strip, and this has led to and will lead to further changes in the region. [1.  “Regional Climate Change: Gaza Strip.” Berkeley Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/regions/gaza-strip>.]

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Man paddling a family away from their home after it flooded due to severe rainfall, RT News, 2013

This image depicts the result of severe flooding that took place within parts of Israel and the West Bank. Due to the increase in carbon emissions throughout the world, climate change has been having drastic affects on many Eastern Mediterranean regions, resulting in extreme weather events. Within the years 1997-2004, The Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem has identified nine severe weather events, which include heat waves, sand storms and heavy precipitation/storms within the West Bank. This in turn results in flash floods which causes destruction such as death, injury and loss of possessions/property to thousands of people within the Gaza Strip and West Bank. [1.  United Nations Development Programme. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Programme of Action for the Palestinian Authority. N.p.: n.p., 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30777/1/PA-UNDP_climate_change.pdf>.]

Effects of climate change on civilian wellbeing vs. Political actors, United Nations Development Programme, 2010

Although climate change can cause an increase in disastrous flash floods and precipitation, those disasters usually only occur a couple times in between severe droughts. Thus, areas such as the Gaza strip and similar regions that posses arid land, are highly susceptible to  droughts due to the increase temperature caused by climate change. This can in turn cause a reduce in yields for agricultural farmers due to the lack of precipitation and the restrictions on occupation and movement set in place by governmental actors. Therefore, this image illustrates the risks posed by an increase in precipitation, a lack of precipitation, as well as the water restrictions enforced by the government, and how these factors effect individual livelihood and political agents.  [1.  United Nations Development Programme. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Programme of Action for the Palestinian Authority. N.p.: n.p., 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2014. <http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30777/1/PA-UNDP_climate_change.pdf>.]

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Over 20 campaigners from the Arab Youth Climate Movement hold up flags from their representing country, 350.org, 2012

This image represents a group of young people from Middle Eastern and Northern African countries whom came together to form an activism group known as the Arab Youth Climate Movement. This group works by encouraging governments to cut emissions by putting pressure on them through various campaigns and protests. For example, in 2012 Gaza youth members of the AYCM marched in Palestine to encourage Qatar to take progressive action regarding climate change. This organization represents a solidarity movement taking place within the middle east by bringing people from different cultures to fight a common cause: climate change. By doing so, the Arab Youth Climate Movement hopes to strengthen the debate on climate change by creating a larger voice representing several nations affected by an increase in carbon emissions.  [1.  Say Hello to the Arab Youth Climate Movement!” 350.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://350.org/say-hello-arab-youth-climate-movement/>.]