Climate Change and the Middle East

Climate Change and the Middle East

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Registration is open for:
Summer 2021

Program Dates: 
July 6-30, 2021

Language of Instruction: English

Academic Credits: 2

What is in store for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), already amongst the hottest, driest parts of the planet, as the Post-Normal Climate Condition sets in? How could three varieties of climate inequality further complicate prognoses for the region? How might the nexus between prolonged droughts, agricultural failure, food insecurity, forced migration, climate refugees and national (in) security play out across MENA? And could oil-rich countries in the region have a positive role in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewableswhich many see as the only avenue away from climate chaos?


Dan Rabinowitz, a cultural anthropologist known internationally for his work on culture, society and the environment in the Middle East, and author of The Power of Deserts: Climate Change, the Middle East and the Promise of a Post-Oil Era (Stanford University Press, 2020) explores these issues and more in a vivid and dynamic online course from Tel-Aviv University.


About the Course

This onlinecourse examines the impact climate change already has and is projected to exert across the Middle East in future; analyzes three types of climate inequality prevalent in the region; aooksat the nexus between climate change, forced migration, national security and conflict; and explores the potential of the region toparticipate in the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to renewables, thus becoming part of the solution to the climate crisis.


This course will run for six consecutive weeks in the summer of 2021. Each week, participants will be asked to watch two a-synchronous, pre-recorded lectures (45 minutes each) and participate in two synchronous sessions (90 minutes each). The sessions will include discussions of thelectures, Q & A, work in groups and meetings with guest lecturers.


Structure of the course:

  • Part 1 (units 1-3) briefly introduces climate modelling, surveys climate predictions for key states in the Middle East and examines the agricultural and economic consequences of those prognoses. 

  • Part 2 (units 4-6) introduces climate inequality as a generic concept, then analyses how climate change might exacerbate three types of gaps across the region: divergent levels of CO2 emissions; different levels of exposure and vulnerability to global warming; and variance in the commitment to climate action.

  • Part 3 (units 7-9) looks at how climate change is already pressurizing agriculture in various parts of the Middle East, inducing food shortages, rural flight, insecurity and conflict; and how climate-related crises of the types that hit Syria and Sudan in recent decades could be the new normal.

  • Part 4 (units 10-13) introduces the notion of Peak-oil, highlights the immense potential of the Middle East for solar power, and sketches a putative strategy that could position the six oil-rich kingdoms by the Persian Gulf in the forefront of the global transformation from fossil fuels to renewables.


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