Thomas Friedman on climate change in the Middle East Noting that 12 of the 15 most water-scarce countries in the world are in the Middle East, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argues that climate issues provided some the kindling for the fire called the Arab Spring now consuming the region. "The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well," he writes. Syria, one of the region's most volatile, is a good example. 60 percent of it experienced drought in the five year preceding the conflict there today, leading to widespread crop and livestock failure. Water and food shortage exacerbate tensions between people and government, the latter often unable to meet the former's needs. "We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t," Friedman concludes.
NPR on how too much sunshine isn't a day in the park We ordinary folks have perhaps enjoyed this early spring in the U.S., inconveniences aside, but climate scientists are worried. "They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications." On a weekend edition of All Things Considered, Laura Sullivan runs down some of the dire consequences of the warm winter, including maple syrup production being down in Vermont and crops running ahead of schedule in Iowa, dangerous if there's a sudden frost. As for, say, the tornadoes in Texas, scientists hesitate to make direct links between global warming and specific extreme weather events. Nevertheless, the UN released a report last week warning of "more intense heat weaves, heavier rainfalls and longer droughts" in the coming decades as a result of climate change.