It was almost 20 years ago that Ma Jun sat and watched the rainbow-coloured River Fen, in Shanxi province. As he turned to the skies in this coal and industrial heartland of north China he could see dozens of chimneys bellowing out their fumes.
Recent extreme heat events in the Middle East have climate scientists worried about future climate-related catastrophes. Temperatures have climbed above 115 F across the region this summer and Kuwait and Iraq recently recorded most likely the hottest temperatures ever in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Record-breaking extreme heat—estimated to have claimed more lives than wars—has worsened over the years and recent studies have suggested future climate change will make parts of the region uninhabitable.
Research found that 23% of violent clashes in ethnically divided places were connected to climate disasters. Climate-related disasters increase the risk of armed conflicts, according to research that shows a quarter of the violent struggles in ethnically divided countries were preceded by extreme weather.
The role of severe heatwaves, floods and storms in increasing the risk of wars has been controversial, particularly in relation to the long drought in Syria.