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On Record-Breaking Heat, Security and US-MENA Relations

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U.S. Army Spc. Kayla Hammonds, demonstrates to Iraqi army soldiers how to accurately gather the heat index in Baghdad, Iraq

The Cipher Brief published a commentary from us today on the recent record-breaking heat in the Middle East and North Africa, how that fits into the picture of climate and security risks in the region, and what that may mean for the US role in the Middle East and North Africa. From the article:

Instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is at its worst in recent memory. While political volatility has been something of a constant in the region for much of the past century, threats to regional security – and to the nation-state system itself (for example, powerful terrorist groups seeking to establish a transnational caliphate) – are increasing.

Common headlines include air strikes, massive refugee crises, attempted coups, and battles with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) spanning multiple countries. Another headline – the kind too often ignored by foreign policy and security analysts – is the record-breaking heat wave occurring in places such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, and Iraq, and speculation about the long-term habitability of parts of the region. Coupled with precipitation decline, increasingly severe droughts, and rising sea levels, the heat waves and the actual climate of the region cannot be separated from its political climate. If these problems aren’t addressed as a systemic whole, the region will likely not recover. The United States must take that into consideration.

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Karachi’s Heat Wave a Sign of Future Challenges to Pakistan’s Fragile Democracy

A man (R) cools off under a public tap, while others wait to fill their bottles, during intense hot weather in Karachi, Pakistan, June 23, 2015. A devastating heat wave has killed more than 400 people in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi over the past three days, health officials said on Tuesday, as paramilitaries set up emergency medical camps in the streets. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro  - RTX1HPUL

A devastating heat wave has killed more than 400 people in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi over the past three days. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro- RTX1HPUL

This is a cross-post from the New Security Beat.

July 8, 2015 | By Tim Kovach

Karachi, the world’s second largest city by population, is emerging from the grips of a deadly heatwave. A persistent low pressure system camped over the Arabian Sea stifled ocean breezes and brought temperatures in excess of 113°F (45°C) to the city of 23 million people in June. The searing heat disrupted electricity and water service, making life nearly unbearable. All told, officials estimate the heatwave killed at least 1,200 Pakistanis, more than twice as many as have died in terrorist attacks this year. (more…)

Climate Change in Russia Affecting U.S. Consumers (and vice-versa)

Russia Beyond the Headlines just ran a piece on Russia’s declining grain harvest (which resulted from drought in recent years), and how that might be affecting food prices in the United States, highlighting that in the U.S. this year “prices for No. 1 Hard Red Winter wheat soared from $270 per bushel in May to $340 in early September.”

But the relationship is reciprocal: (more…)

Strong Observable Evidence of Link Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Two New Studies

Andrew Freedman at Climate Central looks at two newly published global studies, one by Coumou and Rahmstorf in Nature Climate Change, and another by Kevin Trenberth in Climatic Change, showing “strong” observable evidence of the “relationship between extreme weather events and global climate change.” (more…)

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