Heat, drought, and debilitating dust storms have, according to National Geographic, brought much of southeastern Iran to the brink of being uninhabitable. The temperature in Sistan and Baluchestan province is often above 110 degrees F and it never rains, but the wind blows non-stop for 120 days straight each year. And so, as this poignant story makes clear, “the entire area wanes under a months-long barrage of sand, cloying dust, and noise.” It’s in the grip of an unrelenting succession of environmental disasters that are a harbinger of what’s to come for many other parts of the planet.
- Prolonged drought has hastened the loss of 1500 square miles of wetlands and surface water is evaporating rapidly so there is no longer water available for irrigating crops.
- Dust storm season has lengthened in recent years to nearly half the year, which has led to respiratory problems that are among the worst in the world according to the World Health Organization.
- Fire engines must be ready to tackle the numerous fires that “erupt” due to the complete lack of rain (only an inch last winter – one third what is needed).
- Large lakes are withering and rivers are flowing more intermittently.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study in 2015 warned that much of the Persian Gulf may soon be too hot for humans to inhabit – one of the highest temperatures ever recorded of 128.7 degrees was in the city of Ahvaz. Climate change problems such as these have fueled political unrest, National Geographic reports, and those could also worsen as climate change continues to batter the region. The lack of water is causing millions in these rural areas to move, and with no other means of support, local farmers are turning to drugs – both for smuggling and getting hooked.
Why This Matters: It is not just water that is departing this region. The drought in Iran has led to a “socio-economic drought” too according to Peter Schwartzstein, the NG story’s author. Scientists and environmentalists are being driven out of the region, even as Iran’s government continues to mismanage water resources. Iran has jailed several prominent environmentalists accusing them of being spies because of the equipment they are using or the data they are making public — one of them died in prison in 2018. Sadly, it may be too late even for adaptation in this parched region of Iran. We must not let this be our fate too. This part of Iran used to be an oasis. Not any more.
H/T to Brian at NG for pointing us to this one.