A prolonged drought and high temperatures, both linked to climate change, are fueling tensions and unrest in Iran. Water shortages, obviously dangerous in their own right, have exacerbated an electricity system already strained by summer heat approaching 122°F by forcing the shutdown of hydroelectric dams, leading to rolling blackouts. Videos on social media showed large crowds chanting “I am thirsty!” Protests in oil-rich Khuzestan province on the Iraqi border have elicited a rare apology from outgoing president Hassan Rouhani and resulted in multiple deaths. Social media videos show riot police breaking up demonstrations with batons and tear gas and witnesses say security forces fired on protesters.
“We kept shouting, ‘We want water, just water, we don’t have water,’” Mohammad a 29-year-old street vendor, told The New York Times in a phone interview from Khuzestan’s provincial capital. “They answered us with violence and bullets.” (New York Times $, Washington Post $, Al Jazeera; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heatwaves)