Concordia professor to release book on climate change in the Middle East

After two years of hard work, Associate Professor Leila Zakhirova of Concordia’s Political Science Department and her co-author Professor William R. Thompson of Indiana University are releasing their new book “Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa: 15,000 Years of Crises, Setbacks, and Adaptation.” The book aims to “probe the role of climate change in the rise and demise of the Middle East and North Africa over the past 15,000 years” and “to underscore just how bad the 21st century environment may become thanks to global warming”. 

The Middle East and North Africa have historically been the centers of much of human progress, civilization and technology. The Cradle of Civilization, Ancient Egypt, Israel, the Islamic Golden Age and countless other empires, developments and pillars of Western Civilization originated in the Middle East and North Africa. These successes were possible in large part due to favorable climate conditions and relatively stable weather patterns. However, this luck seems to be running out as this region full of history and significant human achievement is “on track to be the first to go offline due to the onslaught of deteriorating climate,” according to Zakhirova. This would not be the first time that the Middle East and North Africa have faced challenges from climate change in the past 15,000 years, but the consequences have constantly been frightening. 

Associate Professor Leila Zakhirova | Concordia College

“In each case, pretty much the same thing happened: governments collapsed, urbanization ceased, trade stopped, and more importantly, population growth ended,” said Zakhirova.

Even though we are called to be responsibly engaged in the world as Cobbers, why should we, Americans, or the West more broadly care about the likely demise of the Middle East and North Africa in the coming decades? First and foremost, the Middle East and North Africa are not the only ones who will be affected by Climate Change. Rather, they will simply be one of its first victims. Victims that will need somewhere to go. We have seen the conflict and disagreement arise over what to do in the West with Syrian refugees. Imagine if it were the whole of the Middle East and North Africa. Proper management of the migration, food shortages, civil unrest, etc. on the local, regional and global level will be crucial to maintaining stability and more importantly saving the lives of the Middle East and North Africa’s inhabitants.

“While I do not enjoy donning the ‘Chicken Little’ mantle and proclaiming the sky may be falling at some point in this century, Cobbers will have to figure out how to navigate through this perfect storm of human misery and suffering,” said Zakhirova.

Thompson and Zakhirova’s book will be released in July 2021 and is available for preorder from Routledge.

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