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Friday, March 27

Maybe a little less promoting of manmade climate change arguments and more organized data on MENA water shortages?

"From 2006-2010, an unprecedented drought (brown areas) spread over much of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Syria was especially vulnerable to its effects. Credit: NASA" -- PhysOrg


After searching 20 minutes last night I was unable to find a weekly drought monitor map for MENA either as a whole or by country that's along the lines of the weekly US Drought Monitor. The little available by way of drought maps for MENA is a complete mess and completely incomplete.  This means I'm still reduced to scraping together bits and pieces of data on a water crisis from news reports or blogs  -- or from the kind of research paper that PhysOrg quoted earlier this month, which sent me through the roof.

Gentlemen. Ladies. Transgenders. Visiting aliens from outer space.  Now hear this. Are you piggybacking "manmade climate change" speculations on water crises because you know that's the only way they can get much attention anymore?  It looks that way to me but for whatever reason, your insistence on putting manmade climate front and center adds a lot of distracting 'noise' to the already hideously complicated water shortage situations.

All right, let's see if I can excavate a few shreds of useful data from the March 2 PhysOrg report titled Did climate change spark the Syrian civil war? Wait a minute. Didn't I already mention the situation with Syria a thousand or so posts ago on the water crises? Well if I did a little review won't hurt:
[...]
The recent drought affected the so-called Fertile Crescent, spanning parts of Turkey and much of Syria and Iraq, where agriculture and animal herding are believed to have started some 12,000 years ago. The region has always seen natural weather swings. But using existing studies and their own research, the authors showed that since 1900, the area has undergone warming of 1 to 1.2 degrees Centigrade (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit), and about a 10 percent reduction in wet-season precipitation. 
[...] 
The study's authors say Syria was made especially vulnerable [to the drought] by other factors, including sheer population growth—from 4 million in the 1950s to 22 million in recent years.
Also, the ruling al-Assad family encouraged water-intensive export crops like cotton. Illegal drilling of irrigation wells dramatically depleted groundwater that might have provided reserves during dry years, said coauthor Shahrzad Mohtadi, a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs who did the economic and social components of the research.
The drought's effects were immediate. Agricultural production, typically a quarter of the country's gross domestic product, plummeted by a third. In the hard-hit northeast, livestock herds were practically all obliterated; cereal prices doubled; and nutrition-related diseases among children saw dramatic increases.
As many as 1.5 million people fled from the countryside to the peripheries of cities that were already strained by influxes of refugees from the ongoing war in next-door Iraq. In these chaotic instant suburbs, the Assad regime did little to help people with employment or services, said Mohtadi. It was largely in these areas that the uprising began.
[...]
Like falling dominoes more than a million people then fled the war in Syria that followed in the wake of the uprising.  They fled to Lebanon, further straining already strained water resources there.  And so it goes.    

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