Environmental issues are closely related to the health problems. If the air is polluted, the quality of water is low and the food resources are scarce, people suffer from different health disorders caused by these factors. Environmental problems are revealed in different forms. Nowadays, scholars discuss a rapid climate change, which poses the enumerated challenges. Moreover, people’s activities are considered to be significant risk factors for worsening the existing situation. The current paper analyzes the phenomenon of climate change as a strategic threat for the UAE and defines certain solutions, which the government of the state should introduce to prevent the environmental catastrophe and its negative consequences for the citizens’ health.
The problem of climate change is very important for the modern society as a whole. People do not observe the changes in climate every day, but scholars claim that its rate has recently increased dramatically. The issue that is worth specific attention in this regard is that “most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” Discussing the environmental situation in the UAE, the state faces some serious challenges, in spite of the fact that the government tries to preserve the best possible living conditions for the citizens. Environmental scientists of Abu Dhabi analyzed seven environmental components of the area, namely marine, air, water, land, biomass, climate change and waste, and came to a conclusion that “all of them demonstrated sub-par performance, well below global averages, and four were in critical condition”. This information is enough for the UAE government to start developing the relevant effective strategies to change the situation.
Climate change is a complex and diverse phenomenon that possesses threats for the UAE in terms of different aspects. First of all, it causes the rise of the sea level, which leads to “Inundation and displacement of wetlands and lowlands; coastal erosion; increased storm
flooding and damage; salinization”. All of these consequences lead to the dislocation of people from the areas of their residence and result in serious health problems, namely asthma, malaria, tick borne and food borne diseases for the current inhabitants and those, who are not able to leave the place immediately (ways). Therefore, the effects of the rising sea level should be quickly mitigated in the UAE and the government should provide better control to support the coastal zones (means).
Unfortunately, a rising sea level is not the only revelation of the climate change for the UAE. The next important issue to discuss is the increased CO2 atmospheric emissions. Salam states that CO2 emissions in the UAE have increased by more than 30.000.000 tones since the 1990s. Apart from this factor, some other air pollutants are common for the area like tiny particles of sand, chemicals, dust and ground-level ozone (ways). People suffer from different respiratory diseases because of the air pollution, which is caused by human activities of mining, transportation and hydrocarbon manufacturing (ends). Certain steps should be taken by the government to decrease the negative environmental impact of these activities and to restructure the industrial activities (means).
The two discussed issues related to climate change in the UAE are closely connected with the challenge in regard to biodiversity, which is faced by the state. Much of the biodiversity in Abu Dhabi is found in the coastal systems, which are subjected to the enumerated negative influences (ways). Salam states that “rapid population increase and development in the Gulf countries is challenging substantially on coastal marine life in the Arabian Gulf”. Therefore, a combination of climate change and specific results of the human activities and demographic processes lead to the extinction of numerous animal species in the area of the UAE (ends). Even the coral reefs, which purify the coastline from erosion, are significantly damaged by overfishing and commercial shipping operations (ends). Animal spices and flora of the region are integral elements of its ecosystem that perform important cleaning and restoring functions. It is very important to preserve them by means of cooperative work of ecologists, biologists and protective services of the state (means).
The issue of the lack of biodiversity in the UAE is the reason of food security problems. Fish and animals cannot live in the conditions created for them, because apart from the effects of global warming, these systems suffer from certain challenges to survive and exist (ways). Food consumption has dramatically increased because of the growing population (ends). Moreover, there is a lack of technological knowledge, which is common for the majority of the Emirati, so that they cannot develop any efficient strategies to save food resources, especially in the rural areas (ends). The government of the UAE should definitely address the problem of food security by wisely distributing the resources among citizens and preserving the existing species (means).
It is possible to admit that a rapid climate change has serious consequences for the UAE. The situation is even more complicated due to the fact that human activities cause additional air and water pollution and lack of food resources. According to the “UAE Vision of 2021”, the state understands that its contribution to the improvement of the world ecological situation is important. The document states that “As a global nation, the UAE is committed to playing its part in developing and implementing innovative solutions to protect and sustain the environment”. As it is stated in the introductory part of the current paper, there are some effective strategies, which the UAE government can implement.
The methods of environmental protection should be properly developed and based on a number of tools. These include the tools of the following categories: (1) diplomatic: establish cooperation with other Gulf countries to mitigate the effects of the climate change in the region and to ensure “the interface with relevant international agencies and bodies namely UNFCCC, IRENA, G20, G77, MEF and relevant NGOs”; (2) intelligence/information/law enforcement: develop advanced systems of gathering accurate information about the processes that take place in the coastal zones, while higher corresponding specialists should implement all possible technologies to improve the situation, ensure the protection of coastal systems according to the federal law of the UAE and activate law enforcement to follow this process; (3) military: involve militaries in coast protecting operations, especially in the zones, where some strategic objects are located; (4) economic: the implementation of any technology to control the climate change requires investments and the UAE has already started working in this direction. The state has studied new methods to control the usage of natural resources and some innovative technologies to reduce hazardous emissions. The country has developed new energy efficient standards for building and new mass transit systems to solve the situation with the emissions from different means of transport. Thus, the UAE have formulated a number of goals to face the challenge of the climate change.
A separate strategy, actively developed in the UAE to solve the analyzed problem, is the implementation of renewable energy sources. “Abu Dhabi has set a renewable energy target which it expects to meet largely through solar power”. The Emirati claim that they are blessed with having much sun and it is reasonable to use its energy, following the latest tendencies, which are gradually becoming common worldwide. Apart from the generators of renewable energy, the UAE considers that peaceful nuclear energy helps to satisfy the needs of citizens in electricity. Two named types of energy sources are being actively developed in the country and the number of solar power plants quickly grows. This strategy is based on the previously discussed directions and involves: (1) the participation of the UAE in the international renewable energy organizations (diplomatic); development of new renewable energy resources and maintenance of the corresponding legislation (intelligence); provision of security at the solar plants and satisfaction of the needs of the militaries in the electricity (military) and significant investments in constructing solar power generators (economic). Therefore, the UAE are moving in the right direction with the goal of preventing the negative consequences of the climate change, but there is still much work to be done in the nearest future.
To conclude, it is important to note that climate change affects all areas to a bigger or lesser extent. The UAE suffer from this ecological problem, which is revealed in complete destruction of the coastal zones’ potential, rising sea level, CO2 emissions, lack of biodiversity and insufficient food resources. The state should try to mitigate these negative consequences by eliminating harmful influence of the accompanying human activities. Local governments should unite their efforts with the central administration and non-governmental organizations to share the available information and develop some effective preventive strategies. It will be very useful for the UAE to utilize the experience of different international organizations, which are engaged in solving the issue of climate change.