Baghdad battles a record-breaking heatwave, electricity crisis, and rising levels of pollution
After the unusually high temperatures in the arctic and Turkey’s recent heatwave, the next stop on the 2020s heat train seems to be the capital city of Iraq. In the last week of July, temperatures in Baghdad rose to 52 C, the highest ever recorded temperatures in this region. The scorching heat even resulted in people setting up showers on the streets to cool down.
The southern oil hub city of Basra touched a blazing 53 C, a figure just one degree short of the highest recorded temperature ever witnessed by the country in 2016. Although the temperatures dropped by the Eid-al-Adha weekend, the figures were still higher than averages recorded over the past years.
To add to the already distressing situation, the frequent blackouts in Iraq’s electricity grid have caused air-conditioning cut-offs. As a result, citizens of the country who can afford to do so, have resorted to using diesel generators to power their cooling equipment, which release small particulate matters into the air, increasing toxicity and pollution levels. While this heatwave hasn’t been directly attributed to climate change, it is consistent with what is expected of the heating planet.
Although Iraq is OPEC’s second largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia, Mahmoud Abdul Latif, a senior meteorologist at the Iraqi Meteorological Organization called on the government to invest in renewable energy and remove generators. “In 10 years’ time, we will not be able to live in Iraq—there will be no life,” he cautions.