Socioeconomic factors

Climate change's far-reaching consequences will differ greatly depending upon geography and economic conditions, with the poorest populations most likely being hit the hardest. As at least one expert has noted, 'human economic behaviour and global environmental change may pose for people with a high degree of societal and environmental vulnerability a survival dilemma' (Brauch, 2007).

Moreover, 800 million people are currently at risk of hunger, and malnutrition causes nearly 4 million deaths each year, most of them in Africa. With projected temperature increases of 2°C to 3°C, 30 million to 200 million more people will be at risk of hunger, and this figure will increase rapidly with higher temperature increases. This trend can largely be attributed to the fact that approximately 75 per cent of the poorest populations rely on agriculture for their economic livelihoods.3 Even though some countries would benefit from a modest temperature increase, the least developed countries will not be able to adjust their crop patterns easily. Temperature increases of 3°C to 4°C would result in declines in crop yields in Africa, Western Asia and the Middle East by 15 to 35 per cent.

For example, already poor Jordanian and Palestinian farmers will have their livelihoods threatened further. In the Palestinian West Bank, up to 30 per cent of GDP is currently dependent upon subsistence agriculture. With no industry or tourism, and few job opportunities in neighbouring states, Palestinians are becoming even more dependent upon subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, less water recharge in the Mountain Aquifer will result in less water output in springs, the West Bank's main water source for agriculture. Less water for agriculture will mean that Palestinians in Gaza (assuming there is no blockade in place) will not be able to export food to Israel and Europe for hard currency - and survival.

Egyptians, too, also depend heavily upon agriculture, particularly in the predominantly rural areas. Yet, loss of productive agricultural lands in Egypt due to climate change could lead to a 20 per cent drop in wheat and maize production by 2050. Moreover, agricultural production will be under further threat, due to expected sea-level rise, for example, in the Nile Delta. To elaborate, a 0.5m climate-induced rise in sea level, for example, could displace 2 million to 4 million Egyptians by 2050 (see Figure 13.1). An anticipated 1m rise could displace 6 million to 8 million Egyptians (National Environmental Trust, 2005).

Even without taking climate change into account, Egypt is already facing water supply shortages and cannot meet its agricultural, industrial and domestic

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