DUBAI (AFP) Daily temperatures in the coastal metropolis regularly top 40 degrees Celsius for several months of the year and are exacerbated by high humidity.
A new report this month by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed unequivocally that the climate is changing faster than previously feared, and because of human activity.
The UAE is also one of the world’s most arid countries, and for the past several years it has used aircraft for cloud seeding to artificially produce rain.
One expert has warned of the risks for the region as climate change progresses.
“In general, the level of heat stress will increase significantly,” said Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of hydrology and climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
With higher temperatures and humidity toward the end of this century, some parts of the Persian Gulf will experience periods of “heat stress conditions that will be incompatible with human survival,” he warned.
The combination of heat and relative humidity has the potential to be deadly if the human body is unable to cool off through sweating.
Scientists have calculated that a healthy human adult in the shade with unlimited drinking water will die if so-called “wet-bulb” temperatures (TW) exceed 35C for six hours.
It was long assumed this theoretical threshold would never be crossed, but U.S. researchers reported last year on two locations — one in the UAE, another in Pakistan — where the 35C TW barrier was breached more than once, if only fleetingly.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the IPCC report “must sound a death knell” for coal, oil and gas, and warned that fossil fuels were destroying the planet.
In Bahrain, where average summer temperatures range between 35C and 40C, Mohammed Abdelaal’s company Silent Power uses solar technology to cool water tanks. Bahrain aims for 10 percent renewable energy by 2035, according to state media.
In Kuwait, Khaled Jamal Al-Falih said his house ran solely on solar power, and urged the government to make “clear decisions” to combat climate change. The idea of being able to escape the reality of global warming has “become impossible,” Al-Falih said.