If we don’t act now, the current pace of climate change will mean that the UAE’s average temperature could rise by one degree within the next two years – that’s according to a report by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
And that figure could double by 2040, causing devastation as sea levels rise and reclaim the city, our biodiversity is irreparably damaged and the temperature gradually becomes inhospitable for life.
It’s with this in mind, and spurred on by World Environment Day on 5th June, that a local biologist is researching the consequences of global warming in all sectors of life on a local level with a pioneering new Abu Dhabi-based study.
“It’s so important that we analyse and understand our specific context and location to know what the impact of climate change will be where we are,” explained Dr Taoufik Ksiksi, associate professor of biology at United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain.
“My study will look at the impact of climate change in different parts of Abu Dhabi such as land-use change and the impact of climate change on everyday life,” he added. “We will be looking at how protected areas, the desert and agricultural land will expand or shrink as a result.”
Environmental factors may be our most pressing concern, but Dr Taoufik warns that if things continue the way they are, it will not only be the changing weather that causes problems – it will also have a direct impact on our wealth.
“The sea level rise will be a real threat to us in the future; most of the urban areas and populations are very close to the sea,” he agreed. “But we also hypothesise that the tropical [rain] belt will be shifting northwards, affecting all sorts of flora and fauna. When the plant community is affected, so is everything else – that includes animal habitats, agriculture and, consequently, the economy.“