Large sections of the Middle East might become uninhabitable because of drought and water shortages in the near future. That’s conclusion of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Much of the region will run out of water; leading to food shortages and political turmoil, FAO Director General Graziano da Silva predicted. If that were to occur the massive refugee and humanitarian crisis would get far worse.
Egypt; the most populous nation in the Middle East, might lose large amounts of farmland because of rising sea levels created by Climate Change, da Silva warned. If that were to occur salt from seawater would make it impossible to grow vital crops including, wheat in Egypt.
Egypt Might Face Food Shortages
That means the nation would have a hard time feeding its 100 million people. That would be good news for American and Canadian grain farmers; but bad news for Egypt which is already a poor nation facing inflation. Also benefiting will be speculators in grain and other cereal futures.
The root of the Middle East’s problem it simply does not have enough fresh water. That will build to a crisis if the FAO’s prediction that the regions fresh water supplies will fall by 50% by 2050 come true, author Juan Cole noted.
The situation is made far worse by a lack of modern technology and effective government. Much of the Southwestern United States is actually dryer than the Middle East, but the USA has effective government capable of deploying modern technology to meet water needs. Most of the Middle East does not; some countries in the region including Syria, Yemen and Iraq effectively have no government.
“Looming water scarcity in the North Africa and Middle East region is a huge challenge requiring an urgent and massive response” da Silva said. Around 22 countries and 400 million people in the region might face water and food shortages in the near future, Cole wrote.
A Massive Refugee Crisis Might be Looming
This might lead to political and social upheaval and more conflicts like the Syrian Civil War; that spawned ISIS and the refugee crisis. Some observers blame water shortages that drove peasants off the land; and into the cities, for triggering the social unrest that led to the conflict in Syria.
Massive foreign aid and changes to agriculture will be needed to prevent famine in the Middle East in the near future, da Silva said. Where that money to pay for that will come from is unclear, because voters in the United States and Europe are less sympathetic to foreign aid than ever before. President Trump has vowed to cut foreign aid in the United States, and Britain is withdrawing from international political involvement.
The effects of massive waves of refugees from the Middle East would be dramatic. The present refugee crisis led to terrorism and political upheaval in the US and Britain. It was fear of immigrants and terrorism that fueled the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and Brexit in the UK.
One big dilemma here is that there simply would be no place for tens of millions of refugees to go. There is no way that Europe; or the United States, could take all those people.
The only answer might be a massive expansion of foreign aid, which would not be politically popular in any country. Many nations including the United States, Germany and China may have to greatly increase investments in the Middle East if they want to avoid a catastrophic refugee crisis.
If da Silva and his experts are right even greater refugee crises; and more terrorism and political upheaval might be in our future. We had better pay close attention to the water situation in the Middle East and start dealing with it now, if we don’t want to experience more humanitarian and refugee crises and political turmoil.