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In an attempt to deal with ever-rising temperatures, authorities in Qatar have begun to air-condition the outside. The move, however, is bound to further exacerbate climate change as the cooling uses energy from fossil fuels.
Cooling streets and outdoor markets
The country now sees summer temperatures reach up to 46C. Qatar had already begun air-conditioning its football stadiums in preparation for the World Cup in 2022 but now streets and outdoor markets are also being targeted for cooling.
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Qatar is the largest per-capita emitter country of greenhouse gases, according to the World Bank, and the fear is it that it soon may become uninhabitable.
If the average global warming hits 2 degrees Celsius, Qatar’s temperatures would soar, Mohammed Ayoub, senior research director at the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute told The Washington Post.
“We’re talking about 4 to 6 degrees Celsius increase in an area that already experiences high temperatures,” Ayoub said. “So, what we’re looking at more is a question of how does this impact the health and productivity of the population.”
The danger is more severe in Qatar because of the high levels of humidity. Humidity stops evaporation, thwarting the body from cooling off through sweat.
"If it’s hot and humid and the relative humidity is close to 100 percent, you can die from the heat you produce yourself,” said Jos Lelieveld, an atmospheric chemist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany who is an expert on Middle East climate.
The World Cup in Qatar has already been delayed by five months over fears that visiting fans may wilt or even die. The government has said it plans the World Cup to be carbon-neutral but experts have deemed that goal unrealistic.
For the rest of the world, Qatar gives an example of what may happen if we do not curb emissions in time. It is one of the fastest-warming areas of the world, outside of the Arctic, and has already become unbearable during the summer months.
What will it take for us to act on climate change?