Tag Archives: Refugees

Refugees gain hope from Latin American example

The UK’s new plan to control immigration has alarmed human rights groups. A Latin American example could offer hope instead.

LONDON, 31 March, 2021 − A year after Covid-19 began its devastating planetary spread, most of the world is still searching for ways to return to normality, however countries define it. A more far-sighted approach could be to rebuild better, using this global upheaval to avoid the errors of the past − including the treatment of refugees. A Latin American example could show the way.

Earlier this month the UK government unveiled its New Plan for Immigration, intended, it said, “to build a fair but firm asylum and illegal migration system”. Its proposals are novel, and not reassuring for those fleeing persecution: the Refugee Council, for example, dismissed them as “shaming Britain”.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says one per cent of the world’s population have fled their homes as a result of conflict or persecution: 79.5 million people. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.

Many seek safety within more peaceful parts of their own countries. The British Red Cross says the vast majority of asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they’re likely to live in camps. The proportion of the British population who are refugees or asylum seekers − not the same thing − is 0.26%.

In 2015 a prominent British politician, the late (Lord) Paddy Ashdown, said the world faced a humanitarian crisis on an immense scale if millions of people had to flee the impacts of the climate crisis.

Security on offer

He told the Climate News Network: “The numbers we now have of refugees fleeing battle zones are going to be diminished into almost nothing when we see the mass movement of populations caused by global warming.”

Perhaps prophetically, Lord Ashdown, a former marine and diplomat, said: “The idea of Open Europe is now under threat. We have to discuss how we can manage the future. Can you imagine what is going to happen? The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster.”

Climate-induced migration is already occurring; in 2018 climate and weather-related hazards led to 16.1 million newly displaced people.

Research from the World Bank indicates that by 2050 there will be 143 million internally displaced people due to slow-onset climate impacts, if there is no significant climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One Latin American country, though, has taken a bold step which promises limited security to those seeking safety within its borders, and which could be a model for other states thinking of following suit.

“The numbers we now have of refugees fleeing battle zones are going to be diminished into almost nothing when we see the mass movement of populations caused by global warming”

In February this year the Colombian leader, President Iván Duque, granted what is known as Temporary Protection Status to Venezuelan refugees and migrants living in Colombia, giving them a decade of legal residence.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, hailed the surprise decision, calling it “historic.” Former US president Bill Clinton said: “This decision will save lives.” But while it may prompt some of Colombia’s neighbours to follow its lead, there are fears that rising regional xenophobia could prove a deterrent to others.

Within Colombia itself, however, the decision has been broadly welcomed. Until February fewer than half of the 1.7 million Venezuelans living there had enjoyed legal status. The president’s decision offers security to refugees, including access to basic services such as education and health, as well as to Colombia’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.

The latest figures show 5.4 million Venezuelans have left their country because of political and economic instability under the authoritarian government of President Nicolás Maduro, which  has led to shortages of food, medicine, and fuel. The UNHCR calls the problem of Venezuelan migration “one of the largest displacement crises in the world.”

Colombia has set an example for how to set about defusing tensions and misinformation over the links between migration and the climate crisis something that was growing urgent in Europe well before President Duque’s move. The UK’s latest initiative shows little sign that British politicians have yet been swayed by the Latin American example they have been offered. − Climate News Network

The UK’s new plan to control immigration has alarmed human rights groups. A Latin American example could offer hope instead.

LONDON, 31 March, 2021 − A year after Covid-19 began its devastating planetary spread, most of the world is still searching for ways to return to normality, however countries define it. A more far-sighted approach could be to rebuild better, using this global upheaval to avoid the errors of the past − including the treatment of refugees. A Latin American example could show the way.

Earlier this month the UK government unveiled its New Plan for Immigration, intended, it said, “to build a fair but firm asylum and illegal migration system”. Its proposals are novel, and not reassuring for those fleeing persecution: the Refugee Council, for example, dismissed them as “shaming Britain”.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says one per cent of the world’s population have fled their homes as a result of conflict or persecution: 79.5 million people. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.

Many seek safety within more peaceful parts of their own countries. The British Red Cross says the vast majority of asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they’re likely to live in camps. The proportion of the British population who are refugees or asylum seekers − not the same thing − is 0.26%.

In 2015 a prominent British politician, the late (Lord) Paddy Ashdown, said the world faced a humanitarian crisis on an immense scale if millions of people had to flee the impacts of the climate crisis.

Security on offer

He told the Climate News Network: “The numbers we now have of refugees fleeing battle zones are going to be diminished into almost nothing when we see the mass movement of populations caused by global warming.”

Perhaps prophetically, Lord Ashdown, a former marine and diplomat, said: “The idea of Open Europe is now under threat. We have to discuss how we can manage the future. Can you imagine what is going to happen? The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster.”

Climate-induced migration is already occurring; in 2018 climate and weather-related hazards led to 16.1 million newly displaced people.

Research from the World Bank indicates that by 2050 there will be 143 million internally displaced people due to slow-onset climate impacts, if there is no significant climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One Latin American country, though, has taken a bold step which promises limited security to those seeking safety within its borders, and which could be a model for other states thinking of following suit.

“The numbers we now have of refugees fleeing battle zones are going to be diminished into almost nothing when we see the mass movement of populations caused by global warming”

In February this year the Colombian leader, President Iván Duque, granted what is known as Temporary Protection Status to Venezuelan refugees and migrants living in Colombia, giving them a decade of legal residence.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, hailed the surprise decision, calling it “historic.” Former US president Bill Clinton said: “This decision will save lives.” But while it may prompt some of Colombia’s neighbours to follow its lead, there are fears that rising regional xenophobia could prove a deterrent to others.

Within Colombia itself, however, the decision has been broadly welcomed. Until February fewer than half of the 1.7 million Venezuelans living there had enjoyed legal status. The president’s decision offers security to refugees, including access to basic services such as education and health, as well as to Colombia’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.

The latest figures show 5.4 million Venezuelans have left their country because of political and economic instability under the authoritarian government of President Nicolás Maduro, which  has led to shortages of food, medicine, and fuel. The UNHCR calls the problem of Venezuelan migration “one of the largest displacement crises in the world.”

Colombia has set an example for how to set about defusing tensions and misinformation over the links between migration and the climate crisis something that was growing urgent in Europe well before President Duque’s move. The UK’s latest initiative shows little sign that British politicians have yet been swayed by the Latin American example they have been offered. − Climate News Network

Refugees and wildlife face risk from border walls

Not only humans but four-legged migrants are at risk from  border walls. Other species can be climate refugees too.

LONDON, 17 February 2021 − Something there is, wrote the American poet Robert Frost, “that does not love a wall.” Thanks to British researchers we now know that something is the white-lipped peccary, the jaguar and the southern spotted skunk. All of them − and many other species − could be affected by border walls like that separating  the US from Mexico.

The barrier between India and Myanmar, too, creates problems for the sloth bear, the Indian pangolin and the large spotted civet. And a fence along the Sino-Russian borders could be hard on the desert hare, the Tibetan antelope, the goitered gazelle and the Tibetan fox. When things become harsh on one side of the wall, none of them can move to a better home.

Which could be bad news because, as the planet heats up, and regional climate zones begin to shift, around one in three mammals and birds could by 2070 be forced to look for more welcoming habitat in another country.

Around 3,200 kilometres of man-made barrier now extend along national boundaries, precisely to prevent the unauthorised movement of refugees. But those same barriers could create problems for some of the 700 or so mammals that may have to shift home as regional climates change, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The US-Mexican border wall alone could obstruct the migration of 122 species of four-legged animal refugee.

“If we are serious about protecting nature, reducing the impacts of border barriers on species will be really important − although there’s no substitute for tackling the greenhouse gas emissions at the root of the issue”

“Species all across the planet are on the move as they respond to a changing climate. Our findings show how important it is that species can move across national boundaries through connected habitats in order to cope with this change,” said Stephen Willis of Durham University in the UK.

“Borders that are fortified with walls and fences pose a serious threat to any species that can’t get across them. If we are serious about protecting nature, expanding transboundary conservation initiatives and reducing the impacts of border barriers on species will be really important − although there’s no substitute for tackling the greenhouse gas emissions at the root of the issue.”

Professor Willis and his colleagues started from the premise that the effectiveness of conservation action is not separable from what they call “underlying sociopolitical factors.”

There has, for more than a decade, been serious concern that climate change and human population expansion could ultimately lead to a mass extinction of wild creatures.

But mathematical models of the natural niches occupied by birds and mammals worldwide show that the biggest losses of native species will be in those countries with weaker governance and lower Gross Domestic Product.

No justice

And the disappearance of mammals in particular will be in those countries with the lowest levels of the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

To survive, many of those species will have to migrate − and at that point, walls and fences designed to exclude human migrants will become major obstacles to the conservation of the wild things. The margay and the common opossum, the Mexican wolf and that wild cat the jaguarundi could all be turned back, along with hungry and near-desperate families, at the US-Mexican border.

“The stark inequities between those who contributed most to climate change and those who will be most impacted raise really important questions of international justice,” said Mark Titley, a researcher at Durham who led the study.

“Fortunately, our models also show how strong and urgent emissions reductions, in line with the Paris Agreement, could greatly reduce the impacts on biodiversity and relieve the burden of such losses on less wealthy nations.”

Or, as Robert Frost put it:

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out…”

− Climate News Network

Not only humans but four-legged migrants are at risk from  border walls. Other species can be climate refugees too.

LONDON, 17 February 2021 − Something there is, wrote the American poet Robert Frost, “that does not love a wall.” Thanks to British researchers we now know that something is the white-lipped peccary, the jaguar and the southern spotted skunk. All of them − and many other species − could be affected by border walls like that separating  the US from Mexico.

The barrier between India and Myanmar, too, creates problems for the sloth bear, the Indian pangolin and the large spotted civet. And a fence along the Sino-Russian borders could be hard on the desert hare, the Tibetan antelope, the goitered gazelle and the Tibetan fox. When things become harsh on one side of the wall, none of them can move to a better home.

Which could be bad news because, as the planet heats up, and regional climate zones begin to shift, around one in three mammals and birds could by 2070 be forced to look for more welcoming habitat in another country.

Around 3,200 kilometres of man-made barrier now extend along national boundaries, precisely to prevent the unauthorised movement of refugees. But those same barriers could create problems for some of the 700 or so mammals that may have to shift home as regional climates change, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The US-Mexican border wall alone could obstruct the migration of 122 species of four-legged animal refugee.

“If we are serious about protecting nature, reducing the impacts of border barriers on species will be really important − although there’s no substitute for tackling the greenhouse gas emissions at the root of the issue”

“Species all across the planet are on the move as they respond to a changing climate. Our findings show how important it is that species can move across national boundaries through connected habitats in order to cope with this change,” said Stephen Willis of Durham University in the UK.

“Borders that are fortified with walls and fences pose a serious threat to any species that can’t get across them. If we are serious about protecting nature, expanding transboundary conservation initiatives and reducing the impacts of border barriers on species will be really important − although there’s no substitute for tackling the greenhouse gas emissions at the root of the issue.”

Professor Willis and his colleagues started from the premise that the effectiveness of conservation action is not separable from what they call “underlying sociopolitical factors.”

There has, for more than a decade, been serious concern that climate change and human population expansion could ultimately lead to a mass extinction of wild creatures.

But mathematical models of the natural niches occupied by birds and mammals worldwide show that the biggest losses of native species will be in those countries with weaker governance and lower Gross Domestic Product.

No justice

And the disappearance of mammals in particular will be in those countries with the lowest levels of the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.

To survive, many of those species will have to migrate − and at that point, walls and fences designed to exclude human migrants will become major obstacles to the conservation of the wild things. The margay and the common opossum, the Mexican wolf and that wild cat the jaguarundi could all be turned back, along with hungry and near-desperate families, at the US-Mexican border.

“The stark inequities between those who contributed most to climate change and those who will be most impacted raise really important questions of international justice,” said Mark Titley, a researcher at Durham who led the study.

“Fortunately, our models also show how strong and urgent emissions reductions, in line with the Paris Agreement, could greatly reduce the impacts on biodiversity and relieve the burden of such losses on less wealthy nations.”

Or, as Robert Frost put it:

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out…”

− Climate News Network

Science warns world of ‘ghastly’ future ahead

Take all the dire warnings and assessments that scientists have made. Add them up. Their answer? A ghastly future ahead.

LONDON, 19 January, 2021 − Humankind faces what 17 scientists have called “a ghastly future” − a threat to the Earth’s living things “so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

The dangers they pinpoint are the destruction and loss of the world’s plants and animals on an unprecedented scale; the overwhelming growth of the human population and the demand upon the world’s resources; and finally, climate disruption driven by human environmental change and fossil fuel dependence.

“This dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business and the public,” they write in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science.

“We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future.”

The scientists from Australia, the US and Mexico warn that as many as a million species could soon disappear from the face of the Earth in what is widely recognised as the planet’s sixth mass extinction.

“The mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation”

Because the planetary burden of humans has doubled in just 50 years and could reach 10 bn by 2050, the world faces a future of hunger, malnutrition, mass unemployment, a refugee crisis and ever more devastating pandemics.

And human-triggered climate change will mean more fires, more frequent and intense flooding, poorer water and air quality, and worsening human health.

The authors base their portrait of an already beleaguered planet on more than 150 scientific studies, many of them on the dangerous loss of biodiversity, triggered by the human-wrought changes to 70% of the planet’s land surface. With this loss goes the Earth’s ability to support complex life.

“But the mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation,” said Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia, the lead author.

“The problem is compounded by ignorance and short-term self-interest, with the pursuit of wealth and political interests stymying the action that is crucial for survival.”

Familiar litany

Most of the world’s economies, the authors argue, are predicated on the political belief that meaningful counter-action would be too costly to be politically palatable. “Combined with financed disinformation campaigns in a bid to protect short-term profits, it is doubtful that any needed shift in economic investments of sufficient scale will be made in time.”

Importantly, the scientists who have signed the paper bring no new information: they simply attempt to put into perspective a series of findings that have been confirmed repeatedly.

Two-fifths of the world’s plant species are endangered; the collective mass of wild mammals worldwide has fallen by 25%; and 68% of vertebrate species have declined; much of this in the last century or so.

Humans and their domestic animals now add up to 95% of the mass of all vertebrates: the wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians constitute just 5% of surviving creation.

And the structures that humans have fashioned − roads, buildings and so on − now outweigh the animals and plants on Earth.

With the loss of wilderness comes the loss of what researchers call natural capital and ecosystem services: the reduced pollination of crops, the degradation of soils, poorer air and water supplies, and so on.

Summons to act

In 1960, humans had already requisitioned around 73% of the planet’s regenerative capacity: that is, what humans demanded was still within the limits of the sustainable. In 2016, this demand had grown to an unsustainable 170%.

Around 700 to 800 million people are starving, and between one and two billion are malnourished. Population growth sparks both internal and international conflict and is in turn exacerbated by climate change driven by ever-higher global average temperatures.

The potential count of what researchers call environmental refugees − people driven from their homes by drought, poverty, civil war, flooding or heat extremes − has been set at anywhere between 25 million and 1bn by 2050.

And the scientists warn of political impotence: what nations and national leaders are doing to address any of these issues is ineffective in the face of what they call humanity’s “ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for boosting incomes in the short term.”

They write: “Ours is not a call to surrender − we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future.” − Climate News Network

Take all the dire warnings and assessments that scientists have made. Add them up. Their answer? A ghastly future ahead.

LONDON, 19 January, 2021 − Humankind faces what 17 scientists have called “a ghastly future” − a threat to the Earth’s living things “so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

The dangers they pinpoint are the destruction and loss of the world’s plants and animals on an unprecedented scale; the overwhelming growth of the human population and the demand upon the world’s resources; and finally, climate disruption driven by human environmental change and fossil fuel dependence.

“This dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business and the public,” they write in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science.

“We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future.”

The scientists from Australia, the US and Mexico warn that as many as a million species could soon disappear from the face of the Earth in what is widely recognised as the planet’s sixth mass extinction.

“The mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation”

Because the planetary burden of humans has doubled in just 50 years and could reach 10 bn by 2050, the world faces a future of hunger, malnutrition, mass unemployment, a refugee crisis and ever more devastating pandemics.

And human-triggered climate change will mean more fires, more frequent and intense flooding, poorer water and air quality, and worsening human health.

The authors base their portrait of an already beleaguered planet on more than 150 scientific studies, many of them on the dangerous loss of biodiversity, triggered by the human-wrought changes to 70% of the planet’s land surface. With this loss goes the Earth’s ability to support complex life.

“But the mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation,” said Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia, the lead author.

“The problem is compounded by ignorance and short-term self-interest, with the pursuit of wealth and political interests stymying the action that is crucial for survival.”

Familiar litany

Most of the world’s economies, the authors argue, are predicated on the political belief that meaningful counter-action would be too costly to be politically palatable. “Combined with financed disinformation campaigns in a bid to protect short-term profits, it is doubtful that any needed shift in economic investments of sufficient scale will be made in time.”

Importantly, the scientists who have signed the paper bring no new information: they simply attempt to put into perspective a series of findings that have been confirmed repeatedly.

Two-fifths of the world’s plant species are endangered; the collective mass of wild mammals worldwide has fallen by 25%; and 68% of vertebrate species have declined; much of this in the last century or so.

Humans and their domestic animals now add up to 95% of the mass of all vertebrates: the wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians constitute just 5% of surviving creation.

And the structures that humans have fashioned − roads, buildings and so on − now outweigh the animals and plants on Earth.

With the loss of wilderness comes the loss of what researchers call natural capital and ecosystem services: the reduced pollination of crops, the degradation of soils, poorer air and water supplies, and so on.

Summons to act

In 1960, humans had already requisitioned around 73% of the planet’s regenerative capacity: that is, what humans demanded was still within the limits of the sustainable. In 2016, this demand had grown to an unsustainable 170%.

Around 700 to 800 million people are starving, and between one and two billion are malnourished. Population growth sparks both internal and international conflict and is in turn exacerbated by climate change driven by ever-higher global average temperatures.

The potential count of what researchers call environmental refugees − people driven from their homes by drought, poverty, civil war, flooding or heat extremes − has been set at anywhere between 25 million and 1bn by 2050.

And the scientists warn of political impotence: what nations and national leaders are doing to address any of these issues is ineffective in the face of what they call humanity’s “ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for boosting incomes in the short term.”

They write: “Ours is not a call to surrender − we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future.” − Climate News Network

Climate change stokes mayhem in several ways

Three outcomes could follow if climate change stokes mayhem, conflict and violence. It might be helpful to think about the strains to come.

LONDON, 22 February, 2019 − Stand by for long hot summers marked by riot and racial tension. As climate change stokes mayhem, global warming is likely to see a direct rise in human irritability.

Climate change accompanied by natural disaster such as flood or drought could lead to harvest failure and food and water shortages for which people must compete.

And the same natural disasters could lead to a generation of babies, children and adolescents more likely, because of disadvantage and deprivation, to become more prone to violence in adulthood.

Researchers in the US have been thinking carefully about the links between climate change and conflict. This, they write in Current Climate Change Reports, has a long history, and a huge range of studies have addressed the hazard.

And they see more civic strife and conflict on the way. Some of it is likely to involve climate refugees, or ecological migrants: persons driven from their homes by climate change. The steady rise in global temperatures could also help incubate the conditions for global terrorism.

“Syria offers us a glimpse of what the future might look like as the climate continues to change rapidly”

“This is a global issue with very serious consequences. We need to plan for ways to reduce the negative consequences,” said Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University in the US.

“An inadequate food supply and economic disparity make it difficult to raise healthy and productive citizens, which is one way to reduce long-term violence. We also need to plan for and devote resources to aid eco-migrants in their relocation to new lands and countries.”

The Iowa scholars are not alone. Other research teams have linked rising urban temperatures and conflict; and even self-harm.

Some have identified direct links between protracted drought, conflict and the floods of climate refugees, and other groups have repeatedly warned that the numbers driven from their homes by drought, flood, fire, sea level rise and devastating hurricanes is likely to rise steeply within a generation.

Direct link

Professor Anderson and his co-author took a long cool look at the literature of heat and violence. They found direct connections between ambient temperature and hostility.

In one experiment, police officers in overheated conditions were found to be more likely to respond to suspected burglary by drawing a gun and opening fire. Another study compared temperature with levels of violence in 60 different countries and found that for every one degree Celsius rise in temperatures due to climate change, homicide rates could rise by 6%.

A match of crime reports over 59 years with weather data confirmed that violent crime rates rose in the hotter years in 53 out of 55 instances for which seasonal data were available.

They also found that food insecurity and poor nutrition before and after birth could be linked to violent and aggressive behaviour in later years. And they noted the dangers of clashes when migrants were driven across borders and displaced people were attacked by the locals.

Worst for poorest

“Syria offers us a glimpse of what the future might look like as the climate continues to change rapidly: weather becomes more severe, and countries begin falling into economic and civil distress,” they write.

And the already disadvantaged will experience what they call a disproportionate amount of the harmful effects of rapid climate change, which will “likely produce breeding grounds for new terrorist (or gang) activity, a global strain on available resources and the involvement of the developed countries in small-scale wars breaking out across the globe.”

But developed countries can help: this would require, above all, some sharp changes in response to the refugee crisis.

“The view that citizens of wealthy countries often have about refugees needs to change,” Professor Anderson said, “from seeing them as a threat to a view that emphasises humanitarian values and the benefits refugees bring when they are welcomed into the community.” − Climate News Network

Three outcomes could follow if climate change stokes mayhem, conflict and violence. It might be helpful to think about the strains to come.

LONDON, 22 February, 2019 − Stand by for long hot summers marked by riot and racial tension. As climate change stokes mayhem, global warming is likely to see a direct rise in human irritability.

Climate change accompanied by natural disaster such as flood or drought could lead to harvest failure and food and water shortages for which people must compete.

And the same natural disasters could lead to a generation of babies, children and adolescents more likely, because of disadvantage and deprivation, to become more prone to violence in adulthood.

Researchers in the US have been thinking carefully about the links between climate change and conflict. This, they write in Current Climate Change Reports, has a long history, and a huge range of studies have addressed the hazard.

And they see more civic strife and conflict on the way. Some of it is likely to involve climate refugees, or ecological migrants: persons driven from their homes by climate change. The steady rise in global temperatures could also help incubate the conditions for global terrorism.

“Syria offers us a glimpse of what the future might look like as the climate continues to change rapidly”

“This is a global issue with very serious consequences. We need to plan for ways to reduce the negative consequences,” said Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University in the US.

“An inadequate food supply and economic disparity make it difficult to raise healthy and productive citizens, which is one way to reduce long-term violence. We also need to plan for and devote resources to aid eco-migrants in their relocation to new lands and countries.”

The Iowa scholars are not alone. Other research teams have linked rising urban temperatures and conflict; and even self-harm.

Some have identified direct links between protracted drought, conflict and the floods of climate refugees, and other groups have repeatedly warned that the numbers driven from their homes by drought, flood, fire, sea level rise and devastating hurricanes is likely to rise steeply within a generation.

Direct link

Professor Anderson and his co-author took a long cool look at the literature of heat and violence. They found direct connections between ambient temperature and hostility.

In one experiment, police officers in overheated conditions were found to be more likely to respond to suspected burglary by drawing a gun and opening fire. Another study compared temperature with levels of violence in 60 different countries and found that for every one degree Celsius rise in temperatures due to climate change, homicide rates could rise by 6%.

A match of crime reports over 59 years with weather data confirmed that violent crime rates rose in the hotter years in 53 out of 55 instances for which seasonal data were available.

They also found that food insecurity and poor nutrition before and after birth could be linked to violent and aggressive behaviour in later years. And they noted the dangers of clashes when migrants were driven across borders and displaced people were attacked by the locals.

Worst for poorest

“Syria offers us a glimpse of what the future might look like as the climate continues to change rapidly: weather becomes more severe, and countries begin falling into economic and civil distress,” they write.

And the already disadvantaged will experience what they call a disproportionate amount of the harmful effects of rapid climate change, which will “likely produce breeding grounds for new terrorist (or gang) activity, a global strain on available resources and the involvement of the developed countries in small-scale wars breaking out across the globe.”

But developed countries can help: this would require, above all, some sharp changes in response to the refugee crisis.

“The view that citizens of wealthy countries often have about refugees needs to change,” Professor Anderson said, “from seeing them as a threat to a view that emphasises humanitarian values and the benefits refugees bring when they are welcomed into the community.” − Climate News Network

Drought and conflict can spur climate refugees

How do you identify climate refugees? And is climate change at the heart of the flow of asylum-seekers? Statistics can offer a cautious answer.

LONDON, 25 January, 2019 − Austrian researchers have made it simpler to identify climate refugees, claiming to have established a direct causal link between climate change, conflict and the numbers of migrants.

They are not the first to confirm that there is a statistical association between the likelihood of drought, or heat extremes, and violence. Evidence of cause for any civil or international conflict is always complex and often disputed.

But researchers now say that mathematical techniques provide an indirect connection between formally-established drought conditions and recorded levels of applications for asylum.

“In a context of poor governance and a medium level of democracy, severe climate conditions can create conflict over scarce resources”

The link is conflict, of the kind observed in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Syria.

“Climate change will not cause conflict and subsequent asylum-seeking flows everywhere,” said Jesus Crespona Cuaresma of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

“But in a context of poor governance and a medium level of democracy, severe climate conditions can create conflict over scarce resources.”

Specific conditions

He and colleagues report in the journal Global Environmental Change that they looked at data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees of asylum applications from 157 countries between 2006 and 2015.

They then matched the patterns of asylum bids against conditions in their parent countries, using a measure that scientists call the Standardised Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index, which provides a guide to the gap between rainfall and heat and drought.

They next assembled a tally measure of battle-related deaths collected by the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme in Sweden. Then they modelled other factors, such as the distance between the countries of origin and destination, the sizes of populations, the migrant networks, the political status of the drought-stressed countries and the known divisions into ethnic and religious groups.

And they found that – in specific circumstances – climatic conditions do lead to increased migration as a consequence of conflict exacerbated by the more severe droughts.

Hard to establish

All conclusions about human behaviour at the political level are difficult to establish. Archaeologists and climate scientists have repeatedly linked the collapse of ancient civilisations to climate change but in most such cases the evidence is circumstantial, and incomplete.

But there is often little or no direct testimony from the faraway past, and no surviving voice to offer a challenge. The connection between climate conditions and human response is less certain in a disputed world.

Researchers have systematically found associations between climate and violence and between climate and the conditions for civil inequality.

Urgent prospect

Some have found an association between drought and the conflict in Syria, but others have disputed the conclusion. Researchers have warned that future climate change could create large numbers of migrants and climate refugees and that both issues are urgent.

But it remains more difficult to establish that climate is the only or even the most pressing factor in any individual case.

So the IIASA finding is a cautious one, backed, the scientists say, by statistical rigour. This identifies climate change, and migration flow, and finds conflict as the causal mediator which links the two, most obviously in the events in the Middle East and North Africa since 2006.

“Our results suggest that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, play a statistically significant role as an explanatory factor for asylum-seeking exclusively for countries that were affected by the Arab Spring,” they write. − Climate News Network

How do you identify climate refugees? And is climate change at the heart of the flow of asylum-seekers? Statistics can offer a cautious answer.

LONDON, 25 January, 2019 − Austrian researchers have made it simpler to identify climate refugees, claiming to have established a direct causal link between climate change, conflict and the numbers of migrants.

They are not the first to confirm that there is a statistical association between the likelihood of drought, or heat extremes, and violence. Evidence of cause for any civil or international conflict is always complex and often disputed.

But researchers now say that mathematical techniques provide an indirect connection between formally-established drought conditions and recorded levels of applications for asylum.

“In a context of poor governance and a medium level of democracy, severe climate conditions can create conflict over scarce resources”

The link is conflict, of the kind observed in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Syria.

“Climate change will not cause conflict and subsequent asylum-seeking flows everywhere,” said Jesus Crespona Cuaresma of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

“But in a context of poor governance and a medium level of democracy, severe climate conditions can create conflict over scarce resources.”

Specific conditions

He and colleagues report in the journal Global Environmental Change that they looked at data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees of asylum applications from 157 countries between 2006 and 2015.

They then matched the patterns of asylum bids against conditions in their parent countries, using a measure that scientists call the Standardised Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index, which provides a guide to the gap between rainfall and heat and drought.

They next assembled a tally measure of battle-related deaths collected by the Uppsala Conflict Data Programme in Sweden. Then they modelled other factors, such as the distance between the countries of origin and destination, the sizes of populations, the migrant networks, the political status of the drought-stressed countries and the known divisions into ethnic and religious groups.

And they found that – in specific circumstances – climatic conditions do lead to increased migration as a consequence of conflict exacerbated by the more severe droughts.

Hard to establish

All conclusions about human behaviour at the political level are difficult to establish. Archaeologists and climate scientists have repeatedly linked the collapse of ancient civilisations to climate change but in most such cases the evidence is circumstantial, and incomplete.

But there is often little or no direct testimony from the faraway past, and no surviving voice to offer a challenge. The connection between climate conditions and human response is less certain in a disputed world.

Researchers have systematically found associations between climate and violence and between climate and the conditions for civil inequality.

Urgent prospect

Some have found an association between drought and the conflict in Syria, but others have disputed the conclusion. Researchers have warned that future climate change could create large numbers of migrants and climate refugees and that both issues are urgent.

But it remains more difficult to establish that climate is the only or even the most pressing factor in any individual case.

So the IIASA finding is a cautious one, backed, the scientists say, by statistical rigour. This identifies climate change, and migration flow, and finds conflict as the causal mediator which links the two, most obviously in the events in the Middle East and North Africa since 2006.

“Our results suggest that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, play a statistically significant role as an explanatory factor for asylum-seeking exclusively for countries that were affected by the Arab Spring,” they write. − Climate News Network

Warming drives climate refugees to Europe

Immigration, already a highly controversial topic in Europe, is set to grow as many more climate refugees head for the continent.

LONDON, 22 December, 2017 – The numbers of climate refugees seeking asylum in Europe by the end of the century will be almost three times greater than today unless the world makes radical cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers say migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will by 2100 nearly triple over the average of the last 15 years if carbon emissions continue at their current rate.

They say cutting emissions could slow this human tide, but even then Europe would see asylum seekers rising by at least a quarter.

“Europe is already conflicted about how many refugees to admit,” said the study’s senior author, Wolfram Schlenker, an economist at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a professor at the university’s Earth Institute.

“Though poorer countries in hotter regions are most vulnerable to climate change, our findings highlight the extent to which countries are interlinked, and Europe will see increasing numbers of desperate people fleeing their home countries.”

“There are tremendous costs, both for refugees and their hosts, when we are caught flat-footed. We should plan ahead and prepare”

He and the study’s co-author, Anouch Missirian, compared asylum applications to the EU from 103 countries between 2000 and 2014, with temperature variations in the applicants’ home countries.

They found that the more temperatures over each country’s agricultural region deviated from 20°C (68°F) during its growing season, the more likely people were to seek refuge abroad.

The study, published in the journal Science, says crops grow best at an average temperature of 20°C, and so, not surprisingly, hotter than normal temperatures increased asylum applications in hotter places, such as Iraq and Pakistan, and lowered them in colder places such as Serbia and Peru.

Combining the asylum-application data with projections of future warming, the researchers found that an increase of average global temperatures of 1.8°C – a scenario in which carbon emissions flatten globally in the next few decades and then decline, which they call optimistic – would increase asylum applications by 28% by 2100 – 98,000 extra applications to the EU each year.

Large rise possible

But if carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory, with global temperatures rising by 2.6°C to 4.8°C by 2100, applications could increase by 188%, leading to an extra 660,000 applications each year.

Under the climate deal struck in 2015, the Paris Agreement, most of the world’s nations agreed to cut carbon emissions by 2100 to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US, the world’s second largest carbon emitter, from the accord now jeopardises that goal, which some analysts had already said is unlikely to be reached.

In a further setback to hopes of reducing Americans’ carbon emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed lowering the government’s “social cost” of carbon, or the estimated cost of sea-level rise, lower crop yields, and other climate change-related economic damage, from $42 per ton by 2020 to a low of $1 per ton.

Part of the EPA’s argument for the lower figure involves excluding the cost of US emissions to other countries. But the researchers say their study shows how effects in developing countries have clear impacts on developed countries.

Weather effects

Their work adds to a growing body of evidence that weather shocks can destabilise societies, stoke conflict and force people to flee their home countries. Researchers have highlighted the connection between the drying of the Middle East and continuing conflict there, though debate continues over just what part climate change has played.

Solomon Hsiang, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research, called the SIPA study an “incredibly important” wake-up call. “We will need to build new institutions and systems to manage this steady flow of asylum seekers,” he said.

“As we have seen from recent experience in Europe, there are tremendous costs, both for refugees and their hosts, when we are caught flat-footed. We should plan ahead and prepare.” – Climate News Network

Immigration, already a highly controversial topic in Europe, is set to grow as many more climate refugees head for the continent.

LONDON, 22 December, 2017 – The numbers of climate refugees seeking asylum in Europe by the end of the century will be almost three times greater than today unless the world makes radical cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers say migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will by 2100 nearly triple over the average of the last 15 years if carbon emissions continue at their current rate.

They say cutting emissions could slow this human tide, but even then Europe would see asylum seekers rising by at least a quarter.

“Europe is already conflicted about how many refugees to admit,” said the study’s senior author, Wolfram Schlenker, an economist at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a professor at the university’s Earth Institute.

“Though poorer countries in hotter regions are most vulnerable to climate change, our findings highlight the extent to which countries are interlinked, and Europe will see increasing numbers of desperate people fleeing their home countries.”

“There are tremendous costs, both for refugees and their hosts, when we are caught flat-footed. We should plan ahead and prepare”

He and the study’s co-author, Anouch Missirian, compared asylum applications to the EU from 103 countries between 2000 and 2014, with temperature variations in the applicants’ home countries.

They found that the more temperatures over each country’s agricultural region deviated from 20°C (68°F) during its growing season, the more likely people were to seek refuge abroad.

The study, published in the journal Science, says crops grow best at an average temperature of 20°C, and so, not surprisingly, hotter than normal temperatures increased asylum applications in hotter places, such as Iraq and Pakistan, and lowered them in colder places such as Serbia and Peru.

Combining the asylum-application data with projections of future warming, the researchers found that an increase of average global temperatures of 1.8°C – a scenario in which carbon emissions flatten globally in the next few decades and then decline, which they call optimistic – would increase asylum applications by 28% by 2100 – 98,000 extra applications to the EU each year.

Large rise possible

But if carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory, with global temperatures rising by 2.6°C to 4.8°C by 2100, applications could increase by 188%, leading to an extra 660,000 applications each year.

Under the climate deal struck in 2015, the Paris Agreement, most of the world’s nations agreed to cut carbon emissions by 2100 to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US, the world’s second largest carbon emitter, from the accord now jeopardises that goal, which some analysts had already said is unlikely to be reached.

In a further setback to hopes of reducing Americans’ carbon emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency has proposed lowering the government’s “social cost” of carbon, or the estimated cost of sea-level rise, lower crop yields, and other climate change-related economic damage, from $42 per ton by 2020 to a low of $1 per ton.

Part of the EPA’s argument for the lower figure involves excluding the cost of US emissions to other countries. But the researchers say their study shows how effects in developing countries have clear impacts on developed countries.

Weather effects

Their work adds to a growing body of evidence that weather shocks can destabilise societies, stoke conflict and force people to flee their home countries. Researchers have highlighted the connection between the drying of the Middle East and continuing conflict there, though debate continues over just what part climate change has played.

Solomon Hsiang, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research, called the SIPA study an “incredibly important” wake-up call. “We will need to build new institutions and systems to manage this steady flow of asylum seekers,” he said.

“As we have seen from recent experience in Europe, there are tremendous costs, both for refugees and their hosts, when we are caught flat-footed. We should plan ahead and prepare.” – Climate News Network