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Climate change and the world’s hottest city – Kuwait City

Kuwait’s inferno: how will the world’s hottest city survive climate change?
Malls and office complexes continue to spring up in Kuwait City, built by migrants often working illegally in soaring temperatures. But as oil and water reserves dwindle, the energy-guzzling citystate heads for an existential crisis,
Guardian, Ruth Michaelson.18 Aug 2017,

It is 9am and the temperature in Kuwait City is 45C and rising, but already people working outside. A row of litter-pickers are already hard at work along a coastal highway, their entire bodies covered to protect them from the sun. Outside one of the city’s many malls, valets hover beside the air-conditioned entrance, while two men in white hats huddle wearily next to their ice cream stands.

Other city residents are luckier. They can avoid the outdoors altogether, escaping the inferno by sheltering in malls, cars and office buildings, where temperatures are kept polar-cold.

For years, Kuwait’s climate has been steadily heating up. In the summer months, the Gulf state now frequently touches 50C, and was last year awarded the grim prize of being the hottest place on earth, when temperatures reached a staggering high of 54C.

But while the capital is making plans to prepare for climate change and the rising heat, there are growing concerns for those residents who cannot afford to shelter inside, and mounting questions about how such an energy-intensive city can survive as resources such as water and oil dwindle.

Nearly 70% of Kuwait’s population is made up of migrant workers, many of whom power the near-constant construction of new office complexes and malls across the state. Though labour legislation now bans work outdoors between 12pm and 4pm, many are seen toiling through the hottest hours of the day regardless………

The conditions for those men and women forced to work outside are set to worsen: between 2010 and 2035, Kuwait’s annual average temperature will increase by 1.6% to 28.7C , according to the country’s Environmental Public Authority (EPA), making for increasingly sweltering summer temperatures and more of the dust storms that already plague Kuwait City and beyond.

“Yes, we’re under pressure,” says Shareef al-Khayat, head of the climate change division at the EPA. “Not just from rising temperatures, but sea level rises – the demand for electricity and water will also be harder in the future.”……..

Adapting to rising temperatures will require a radical shift in thinking in Kuwait, especially concerning the most vulnerable. “We can’t manage the way these companies work,” says the construction manager, referring to the contractors who incentivise labourers to work outside in punishing conditions. “Of course, when I see labourers working after midday in this heat, it’s horrible. But what can we do? It’s their rules.”

August 19, 2017 - Posted by | ASIA, climate change

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