Zittis said regional governments should take heed and expedite the move to renewables because the accelerated temperature rise combined with reduced precipitation could mean extended heat waves that would ramp up energy costs for greenhouse gas-spewing desalination plants and electricity-hungry air conditioning units.
Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel that could act as a transitional source of energy for the region until renewables such as solar and wind come online on a mass scale, Zittis said.
A hotter region would also mean less moisture in the soil — a key ingredient to keeping air temperatures cooler once that moisture evaporates. The growth of cities in the Middle East and east Mediterranean also means a loss of arable land that could hold such moisture. Zittis said temperatures in urban settings are on average two to four degrees Celsius higher than outside cities.
The east Mediterranean and Middle East now emit almost as much greenhouse gasses as the entire European Union, Zittis said. Scientists will also urge policymakers to ensure that new houses, buildings and vehicle engines are as energy efficient as possible.
Experts will also need to come up with strategies on how countries will need to adapt to a changing climate in order to get a handle on the higher expenditures that will flow from that. Zittis also said that scientists are warning of possible mass migrations from countries in the Middle East as water gets more scarce and temperatures rise.
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