Adaptation to Climate Change

1.  National Reports

Salt marsh expansion is a huge problem that has risen because of sea level rise near some coastal areas in the nation of Saudi Arabia.  Many techniques are being used to manage this issue but the most effective and widely used method is groins.  Groins are a sort of flood defense mechanism that is used mainly in marshlands.  They are basically small sea walls that reduce wave energy in order to lessen the effect of erosion.  This method is not always the right choice but if it’s done correctly this can effectively help the nation adapt to sea level rise.

Apart from adapting to salt marsh expansion Saudi Arabia is also doing various things in order to preserve their biodiversity.  According to Saudi Arabia’s filed report to the UNFCCC, “Options to increase the adaptive capacity of species and ecosystems in the face of accelerating climate change include:

• Reducing non-climatic stresses, such as pollution, over-exploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation and invasive alien species.

• Wider adaptation of conservation and sustainable use practices including through the strengthening of protected area networks.

• Facilitating adaptive management through strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems.”

Recently Saudi Arabia has showed a deeper interest in increasing their protected area from 8 to 10 percent.  Although that is only a two percent increase at least they are showing some signs of concern towards the countries natural beauty.

2.  National Adaptation Program of Action

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are neighboring countries that have very similar geographical features.  They are both located in the middle of a very hot and arid region of the world so naturally agriculture is a concerning factor when taking into account the overwhelmingly hot summers they endure.  An adaptation strategy that Afghanistan is proposing to do that might help all desert regions is to research and develop drought resistant seeds that can successfully grow in arid conditions.  I think that this drought resistant seeds idea is very interesting because if global warming continues to rise these crops might be the only source of food we can grow in the near feature.  The development of this seed wouldn’t just help Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or the Middle East for that matter, but the entire world.

Besides the many similarities Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan share, some adaptation strategies that Afghans are proposing would not work as efficiently in the nation of Saudi Arabia.  For example, Afghans are thinking of constructing more reservoirs for rain water to collect.  I don’t know how effective this would be in Afghanistan but in my opinion I don’t think this method would work as well in Saudi Arabia.  If you look at my Climate page, you will note that Saudi Arabia does not get much rain.  So if they did constructed rain water reservoirs little to no water would collect and even if some did the arid conditions that the nation endures would most likely cause a lot of that water to evaporated thus making it almost useless.

3.  Interesting Facts About My Region:  Asia

An adaptation measure that the IPCC report recommends the continent of Asia to do is to start breeding fish that are tolerant to high water temperature.  I think this is a good idea because marine life is really suffering with both the increase in CO2 and rise in temperature down there.  Many countries in Asia depend on fish as their main source of food so this would be extremely helpful to them.  I feel like this should be a top priority and needs to happen before it’s to late.

4.  Adapt or Mitigate?

Through the development of desalination plants, Saudi Arabia has been able to adapt to yearly water shortages.  This is a good first step but they now need to develop a way to grow crops more efficiently in hotter conditions.  Once food and water supplies are at healthy and abundant level can they even think about mitigating.  The country, as I said in my previous post, is hoping to generate 100 percent of their power from renewable energy in the upcoming years but until that becomes a reality they need to focus more on adapting.  I feel like the world is way to oil dependent for mitigating to be even remotely successful so adapting, in my opinion, is the way to go.

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Mitigation

1.

Saudi Arabia has in fact ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  For those who don’t know what that is, it is basically just a pledge that any country can take that would obligated heavy emitters of greenhouse gases, to make efforts to try and reduce their emissions.  Countries that do not pollute as much can voluntarily participate in reducing their carbon foot print but most industrialized countries are required to.  Now I say most because, in reality, Saudi Arabia is an industrialized country but for whatever reason, the UN does not recognize that, even besides the fact that the country ranks 13 on a per capita basis.

2.

Saudi Arabia has not taken any actions as of yet to move towards alternative energy, but they have recently revealed that they are planning to generate 100 percent of their power from renewable energy in the upcoming years.

Saudi Arabia recognizes the fact that their oil and natural gas reserves are running low and as a country they have decided to preserve it so that is can be used for the creation of goods such as plastics and polymers, rather than be burnt in power plants to produce electricity.  According to OilPrice.com, Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, one of Saudi Arabia’s spokesmen, has said:

“Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source. If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world.”

The country is yet to comment if they will continue to export oil to other countries around the world, which I’m sure they will, but I’m happy that at least they are planning to go green locally.  Research performed at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran estimates that the country’s solar radiation intake per square meter is between 4.5 to 7 kilowatts of energy.  Saudi Arabia obviously has the means to make this a reality.  It’s just a matter of investing time and money to get this done.

3.

The Islamic city of Mecca was also a somewhat important factor as to why the country of Saudi Arabia decided to push towards renewable energy.  According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, Mayor Osama al-Bar, said that:

“No city in Saudi Arabia owns power-generation assets, and we want to be first city that owns power plants and hopefully the first in the Muslim world.”

As you can see, Mecca and the entire county of Saudi Arabia for that matter, want to be a model for other  primary Islamic countries to join them in the move into the worlds next generation, green era.

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Climate Change Impacts: Asia

1.

The entire continent of Asia is expected to warm during this century.  Central Asia, northern Asia and the Tibetan Plateau are likely to warm beyond the global mean while South and East Asia as expected to warm slightly above the global mean.  Southeast Asia however will be reaching temperatures similar to that of the global mean.  During the summer it is extremely likely that East Asia will have longer, more intense heat waves and it is also projected that South and East Asia will have fewer cold, winter days.

Snowfall in the Tibetan Plateau and in northern Asia is very likely to increase while eastern Asia and the southern parts of Southeast Asia are likely to see an increase in winter precipitation.  Summer rainfall in East and South Asia, northern Asia, and most of Southeast Asia is expected to increase but central Asia is probably going to see a decrease in rainfall.  According to the IPCC, in four out of the six regions in Asia, the largest warming occurs in DJF, but in central Asia, the maximum occurs in JJA.  In Southeast Asia, the warming is nearly the same throughout the year.

Temperature and precipitation changes over Asia from the MMD-A1B simulations. Top row: Annual mean, DJF and JJA temperature change between 1980 to 1999 and 2080 to 2099, averaged over 21 models. Middle row: same as top, but for fractional change in precipitation. Bottom row: number of models out of 21 that project increases in precipitation.
Source: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch11s11-4-3-1-south-asia.html

2.

Freshwater availability is expected to decrease, especially in large river basins, in Central, South, East, and South-East Asia as a result of climate change.  This shortage of water combined with population growth and increasing demands for higher standards of living could quite possible affect billions of Asians by the year 2050.  Coastal regions that are densely populated such as parts of South, East, and South-East Asia are vulnerable to flooding due to sea/river level rise.

Climate change will most likely halt the sustainability of developing countries in Asia and will rapidly drain natural resources which will most likely lead to high hunger rates.  It is estimated that crop yields could increase by up to 20% in East and South-East Asia and decrease by up to 30% in South and Central Asia by the middle of the 21st century.  The mortality rates will ultimately increase due to the spread of diseases (e.g. diarrhea) associated with droughts, flooding, and the lack of resources.

3.

Humans are not the only ones that will be affected by global climate change.  Many wild life will also feel the wrath of mother nature.  Marine and coastal ecosystems in Asia are expected to be disturbed as a result of temperature increase and sea level rise.  Wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs around Asia will become unstable and will likely be increasingly threatened.  Recent analysis project that 24 to 30 percent of coral reefs in Asia are going to disappear by the next 10 to 30 years.

Less river runoff and sea level rise will created sea water intrusions along the coast and as a result, will likely increase the amount of brackish water (semi-salty) fish near the coast.  Freshwater sources will become contaminated with ocean water and could produce diarrheal diseases amoung the people that live in South and South East Asia.  Glacier’s will melt at a much faster rate due to the increase in temperature and will likely cause landslides, glacier melt related floods, and a decrease in river flow.  Agriculture in all part of Asia will be altered and the risk of hunger and dehydration will increase.

4.

Unlike South East Asia, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Western part of Asia will not be affected too much by sea level rise but rather by longer, more intense heat waves.  Saudi Arabia already has very arid condition and it is expected to get much more intense by the end of the century.  Dry conditions lead to fresh water shortages but due to Saudi Arabia’s rich economic state, it has developed many desalination plants throughout the coast of its borders.

There are more than 20 desalination plants in the country that basically remove salt and other minerals from sea water and convert it into drinkable, fresh water.  These plants supply about 70% of the country’s drinking water and more than 28 million megawatts of electricity.  Up to 90% of these plants are powered by natural gas or oil but the country is starting to move towards solar power technology.

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Saudi Arabia’s Contribution to Climate Change

1.

Saudi Arabia mainly emits carbon dioxide through the burning of liquids and gases.  Most likely petroleum and natural gas.  Solids and cement have never really risen too much throughout its history but flaring has had a wild ride.  In the mid to late 1960’s it had a sudden rise and then fell to its normal level in the mid 1980’s.  According to reference.com flaring is the burning off of unwanted gas or flammable gas/liquids released by pressure relief valves in oil wells, oil rigs, and refineries.  My prediction as to why flaring had this sudden rise and fall is probably due to old oil refineries that were not so environmentally friendly.  Another thing I noticed is that they didn’t emit significant levels of carbon dioxide until the mid 1960’s.  Vast oil reserves were discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938 so it makes sense that in the coming few years CO2 levels would begin to increase.

2.

Saudi Arabia’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions estimate for 2008 is 4.7 compared to the U.S. which sits at 4.9 metric tons of carbon.  If you take Saudi Arabia’s value and divide that by the U.S.’s you will note that the percentage of emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.96 percent (4.7/4.9).  As you might already noticed the U.S. has a slightly higher per capita emissions than Saudi Arabia.  This is probably due to the fact the United States has a population 11 times bigger than that of Saudi Arabia (Population: Saudi Arabia 26,534,504; U.S. 307,006,550).  Both countries are well-developed and have a some what good economy compared to the rest of the world so it doesn’t surprise me to see that their per capita emissions are very similar.

Saudi Arabia ranks 13 based on per capita CO2 emissions for the world’s countries.  The United States ranks 12.  This shocks me a little but when you think about it it makes total sense because Saudi Arabia is an oil-based economy and is the worlds largest exporter of petroleum.  On the other hand this sort of comes to me as a surprise because I used to think that Saudi Arabia was an impoverished country but now I know that’s not true.  These revealing fact just makes me mad that the United State and the world in general are not pushing for more renewable, clean energy.  We need to reduce our dependency on oil and start developing new ways to reduce CO2 emissions fast before things get out hand.

3.

Saudi Arabia does not contribute to as much carbon emissions compared to the United States and China.  Its total fossil fuel emissions for 2008 is less than 250,000 thousand metric tons of carbon while the U.S. and China, two of the biggest emitters of CO2, are reaching emission levels of more than 1,500,000 tmt.  India is beginning to increase their emissions count as are all other countries but at a much faster rate.  One thing that is very surprising to me is that Italy’s carbon emissions is slightly higher than Saudi Arabia.  Italy does have a bigger population than Saudi Arabia but they do drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars over there so the fact that their emissions is higher doesn’t make sense to me.

The United States has a populations of 312,000,000 while China has 1,338,000,000 people living in its country.  On a per capita basis, China is more at fault for emitting CO2 than the U.S. (China: 1.43 per capita CO2 * 1,338,000,000= 1,913,340,000; U.S.: 4.90 per capita CO2 * 312,000,000= 1,528,800,000).  But if you take into account a country’s cumulative contribution to climate change from 1900 thru 2008 however, the United States is responsible for the most CO2 emissions than any other nation (91,229,888 thousand metric tons of carbon).  China has emitted 31,793,558 tmt, India 9,151,461 tmt, Italy 5,364,817 tmt, Kenya 80,124 tmt, and Saudi Arabia 2,371,055 tmt.  As you can see Saudi Arabia is one of the least responsible cumulative CO2 emiters out of these countries.

China’s percentage of cumulative emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.35 percent (31,793,558 tmt/91,229,888 tmt).  India’s percentage of cumulative emissions compared to the U.S. is 0.10 percent (9,151,461 tmt/91,229,888 tmt).

4.

It is important to note the difference between carbon emissions and carbon dioxide concentrations.  Carbon emissions is the amount of greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere while carbon dioxide concentrations is the amount of CO2 discharged in the atmosphere.  The keeling curve graph and global emissions of carbon graph both have similar upward sloped curves.  This is due to the fact that as time passes by the amount of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, increase in our atmosphere.

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