Middle East Archives - State of the Planet

Photo Essay: High Desert, Deep Earth

In the Arabian peninsula nation of Oman, geologists are studying the Hajar mountains–a range containing rocks that have been thrust up from the deep earth. Accessible to humans in only a few places on earth, these kinds of rocks offer clues to the planet’s deep history–and possible ways that natural processes may be harnessed to combat modern climate change.

by |July 8, 2013

Ancient Rocks, Modern Purpose

The desert sultanate of Oman is home to some of the weirdest—and possibly most useful—rocks on earth. The stark Hajar mountains, near the border with Saudi Arabia, contain a chunk of earth’s mantle—a zone that makes up most of earth’s mass, but normally lies inaccessible to humans, far below the surface. Here, though, a sliver of mantle has made its way up to where we can see and touch it. The outcrop has drawn scientists looking for clues to the dynamics of the deep earth; the origins of life; and, most recently, ways to fight climate change.

by |July 8, 2013

The Environment as a Tool for Peace in the Middle East

Understanding the Middle East conflict is not an easy task, and adding an environmental component to the puzzle doesn’t make it any easier. Students in the Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East program, having gone through 16 days of an 18-day trip to the region, now see clearly how complex the issues actually are. Having visited Jordan, Israel and parts of the West Bank, and met with local people who deal with environmental issues and the conflict on a daily basis, students have come to realize that sometimes the more you know and experience, the less things makes sense.

by |June 8, 2013

Unpacking Preconceptions

After a late arrival in Amman, Jordan on Sunday night, students in the Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East program hit the ground running on Monday morning. An orientation at the Columbia University Middle East Center was followed by presentations at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature office.

by |May 29, 2013

Singing the Blues About Water Scarcity

Otis Redding sang “you don’t miss your water ’til your well runs dry” in 1965 about pining for a lost love. Last week, Climate and Society founder and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist Mark Cane reprised it with a much different, more literal focus: water scarcity in the 21st century.

by |April 2, 2013

Water, Oil, Food – A Crisis for Saudi Arabia and the World

A water crisis is unfolding in Saudi Arabia that could have profound implications for both the Saudi people and for the rest of the world.

by |September 14, 2011

Parched for Peace: The Fertile Crescent Might Be Barren

This past October, the Levant Desalination Association and Nosstia, an organization of expat Syrian scientists, arranged a conference in the capital city of Damascus to discuss Syria’s water crisis.

by |December 7, 2010

Parched for Peace: A Slight Digression, Just for Kicks

Yesterday, FIFA announced that the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country ever chosen to host the tournament.

by |December 3, 2010

Water, Another Crisis for Iraq

In a place like Iraq, our attention is on the big issues, and we might forget that life also goes on for regular people. They need to grow crops and wash dishes and make tea. For many people in the country, those mundane things can be every bit as big an issue. If you don’t have water to drink, that is an immediate crisis.

by |June 17, 2010

The True Cost of Water: NYC Event May 6

The Green Policy and Environmental Policy Discussion Group of the The New York Academy of Science and the Columbia Water Center are sponsoring a panel discussion on The True Cost of Water on May 6. The focus of this panel discussion is the importance of economic optimization of water usage in the present and in the future to establish long-term sustainability of water resources.

by |April 28, 2010