Friday, January 29, 2010

Climate Change, Rising Sea Levels, Threaten Egypt's Food Supply

Stories and pictures of climate change impacting peoples' lives now continue to become more and more numerous every year.

Now comes news that Egypt's fertile Nile River delta -- and its rich agricultural lands -- are having trouble dealing with this century's 8-inch sea level rise, and the 1-foot sea level rise predicted by 2020 is sounding economic and food security alarm bells:

The Nile Delta, Egypt's bread basket since antiquity, is being turned into a salty wasteland by rising seawaters, forcing some farmers off their lands and others to import sand in a desperate bid to turn back the tide.

Experts warn that global warming will have a major impact in the delta on agriculture resources, tourism and human migration besides shaking the region's fragile ecosystems.

Over the last century, the Mediterranean Sea, which fronts the coast of the Nile Delta, has risen by 20 centimetres (six eight inches) and saltwater intrusion has created a major challenge, experts say.

A recent government study on the coast of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, expects the sea to continue to rise and flood large swathes of land.

"A 30 centimetre rise in sea level is expected to occur by 2025, flooding approximately 200 square kilometres (77 square miles).

"As a result, over half a million inhabitants may be displaced and approximately 70,000 jobs could be lost," the study said.

The fertile Nile Delta provides around a third of the crops for Egypt's population of 80 million and a large part of these crops are exported providing the country with an important source of revenue.

Once stories and pictures like this start to hit harder in America, public support for bold policy solutions is sure to change.  Only then, it may be too late to prevent climate disruption from having catastrophic impacts on life as we know it.

How does this threaten, off the top of my head, a couple of my favorite things in life?  For one, I hope that New Orleans (I'm a huge fan of the city's Jazz Festival) and my favorite ski areas (I'm an avid skier) are able to survive!

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