161: the number of countries in which environmental disasters, most of them due to weather-related events, have caused mass displacement of people since 2008.
27 million: the average number of people displaced by environmental disasters each year between 2008 and 2013.
350,000: migrants seeking entry into the EU in 2014.
200 million: likely migrant number seeking entry into the EU when the full impact of climate change is felt.
|(c) Marko Djurica/Reuters|
Up to 800,000 asylum seekers are set to be taken in by Germany by the end of the year. At the same time, Hungarian prisoners were rushed to the Serbian border to construct a massive fence, three meters high and topped with razor wire, to stop refugees from crawling over the previous, lower border fence. Shades of World War Z.
|Buchenwald Gate: "To Each His Own."|
On the opposite side of the country, Austria halted train service with Hungary due to 'massive overburdening.' Train services between Denmark and Germany were stopped by the state owned train operator, DSB, because of exceptionally tedious passport checks at the border. In southern Denmark, police shut off a section of highway to stop a march of a large group of migrants chanting "Sweden, Sweden," the Associated Press reported September 9th. Just to the east that day, some 300 refugees, including children, were seen entering Denmark on foot from Germany.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that since the beginning of 2015 about 500,000 people had come to Europe, mainly Syrians and Libyans. Half are children. He urged EU member states to "compulsorily" accept 160,000 migrants to residency within the EU over the next two years. Talk about band-aid approaches.
Since 2012 more than 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced from their homes — 40% of the country's population. They joined 5 million Palestinians already in exile, and equal numbers of Afghans and Somalis. Last year 435,000 people asked for asylum in the EU and 136,000 were awarded it. The rest were deported or went underground.
“Today we have a different category of refugees, they are not desperate, starving, poor and unemployed people. No, they are mostly people with average income who primarily seek peace. They need conditions for work and education and European governments must apply effort to this,” the head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service told journalists.
“You know, there are 805 million food-insecure people in the world, and we only reach between 80-100 million of them on an annual basis,” Ertharin Cousin, the chief of the UN World Food Programme, told reporters. In total, there were 51.2 million refugees and 33.3 million internally displaced people registered by the UN in 2013. Another 32,200 flee their homes every day. Whenever she is meeting with Obama or Putin, she said, she cannot bring up politics — it would be a waste of her time — she can only attempt to bring to their attention the need for more aid.
"Syria was destabilized by 1.5 million migrants from rural communities fleeing a three-year drought that was made more intense and persistent by human-driven climate change, which is steadily making the whole eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region even more arid," says Richard Seager of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, who published a report in March on the role of climate change in the Syrian conflict.
"Syria is not the only country affected by this drying. Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Iran are too. However the various social, religious and ethnic wars play out, in the coming years and decades the region will feel the stress of declining water resources."
Seager has also studied the Southwestern United States and what the future holds for that region. Drawing upon nineteen different climate modeling groups around the world, Seager and his colleagues concluded that the California drought is only the start of a new regime. “In the Southwest the levels of aridity seen in the 1950s multiyear drought, or the 1930s Dust Bowl, become the new climatology by mid-century,” they reported.
"Without immediate, large-scale action, death rates from food shortages will rise as crops wither and livestock die, and the largest involuntary migration in history could occur."
“We recapitulate the conditions that create our fears, subconsciously wanting to relieve the original stress, but then we make the same bad choices, because of our conditioning, and so it goes, we have to do it again.”