Stock - Climate Change & Sustainability
Creating a GCC R&D center to come up with solutions to take on long term consequences from climate change must be a priority. This is where combined resources can provide a big pay-off. Image Credit: Supplied

For over a decade, the world has been witnessing substantial climate changes that will have significant impacts not only on human life but serious repercussions on the environment and economy. It is imperative to prepare for such changes to mitigate the damage this causes, including loss of life and property.

The GCC and the Arabian Peninsula are not exempt from climate change. During the 10 years gone by, the region experienced unusual climate developments as represented in heavy rains, floods and hurricanes. This region, usually known for its low rainfall rate that’s the lowest in the world, was impacted to an unprecedented level by last week’s deluge. Oman, the UAE and Bahrain – which were the most affected – had been making considerable efforts to mitigate such damages, including economic losses, set off by nature.

However, social media platforms and media outlets have been inundated with campaigns aiming to distort these facts, often accompanied by the fabrication of images and videos, just to offend. It is important to note that what have the GCC countries witnessed is much less that what have been experienced by many developed and developing nations.

Thanks to swift action and the availability of rescue resources, the GCC managed to contain the repercussions, and minimize losses primarily related to material aspects in a short period of time. While there have been loss of life in Oman, the distortion of facts pertaining to the GCC far exceeds that seen with similar crisis in other nations.

Speculation fueled

Far from offering reliable data, various explanations have emerged, sometimes referring to non-scientific reasons and even subjective ones. In doing so, these claims have capitalised on the absence of GCC institutes and research centres specialised in conducting environmental and climate change studies.

Bloomberg offered a more realistic assessment, ‘attributing the causes to the global climate changes sweeping the world, with the rain enhancement process having a limited impact and cannot alone occur all these changes’. This clearly means that there is a set of factors, with climate change being foremost among them.

The GCC countries managed to handle the weather-related events with high professionalism and overcome the worst of it swiftly enough. So, it is imperative for them to collectively prepare for such climate developments to mitigate losses, both economic and material, to avoid such repercussions in the future.

Keeping aside exaggerations, addressing this issue requires the development of a methodology to deal with future climate changes. This is because these will not be limited to rains and floods but encompass soaring temperatures, rise to sea levels, and the potential endangerment of all regions, including GCC cities, most of which are located near the coastline.

Among these preparations, GCC countries must work individually and collectively. In the first aspect, it is worth mentioning that they managed to establish an infrastructure for economy and social development, considered one of the best in the world.

Constructive use of rainwater

Dealing with climate changes requires addressing some aspects that were not deemed as urgent previously. With the rising intensity in rainfall, there is now a pressing need to establish a network for rainwater drainage in GCC cities. This should be linked to dams or groundwater reservoirs to yield substantial benefits.

Not only will such a network mitigate the repercussions of floods and associated economic and material losses, it will boost groundwater sources to use as a strategic reserve.

On the GCC’s collective work, the nations are required to establish joint R&D centres dedicated to environment and climate changes, so as to prepare studies and forecasts for likely changes and be ready for them.

These joint GCC centres are more feasible than localised ones in each country thanks to the availability of financial, material and human capabilities, provided that the selection of their locations is based on purely professional considerations. In this regard, relying solely on reports from foreign research centres is insufficient.

Adopting such urgent approaches, the GCC countries will be able to address the likely consequences and prepare for them. This will add more to their success in handling environmental crisis and greatly reducing losses that may occur due to climate change.