Hotter temperatures will accelerate migration of asylum-seekers to Europe, says study

December 21, 2017, Columbia University
An infographic depicting results from Missirian et al. Credit: Carla Schaffer / AAAS

New research predicts that migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will nearly triple over the average of the last 15 years by 2100 if carbon emissions continue on their current path. The study suggests that cutting emissions could partially stem the tide, but even under an optimistic scenario, Europe could see asylum applications rise by at least a quarter. The study appears today in the journal Science

"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 change, our findings highlight the extent to which countries are interlinked, and Europe will see increasing numbers of desperate people fleeing their home countries."

Schlenker and study coauthor Anouch Missirian, a Ph.D. candidate at SIPA, compared asylum applications to the EU filed 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 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) during its growing season, the more likely people were to seek refuge abroad. Crops grow best at an average temperature of 20 degrees 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—an optimistic scenario in which carbon emissions flatten globally in the next few decades and then decline—would increase applications by 28 percent by 2100, translating into 98,000 extra applications to the EU each year. 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 percent, leading to an extra 660,000 applications filed each year.

Under the landmark climate deal struck in Paris in 2015, most of the world's nations agreed to cut carbon emissions to limit warming by 2100 to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. President Trump's recent decision to withdraw the United States, the world's second largest carbon emitter, from the accord now jeopardizes that goal.

In a further setback to reducing U.S. , the U.S Environmental Protection Agency has proposed lowering the U.S. government's "social cost" of carbon, or the estimated cost of sea-level rise, lower crop yields, and other climate-change related economic damages, from $42 per ton by 2020 to a low of $1 per ton. The EPA partly arrived at the lower figure by excluding the cost of U.S. emissions on other countries, yet as the study shows, effects in developing countries have clear spillovers on developed countries. "In the end, a failure to plan adequately for climate change by taking the full cost of into account will prove far more costly," said Missirian, a fourth-year sustainable development major.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence that weather shocks can destabilize societies, stoke conflict and force people to flee their home countries. In a widely-cited 2011 study in Nature, a team of researchers led by Solomon Hsiang, then a graduate student at SIPA, linked modern El Niño drought cycles to increased violence and war globally.

More recently, researchers have highlighted the connection between the drying of the Middle East and ongoing conflict there. In a 2015 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, another team of Columbia researchers made the case that climate change made Syria's 2006-2010 drought two to three times more likely, and that the drought was a catalyst for Syria's 2011 uprising. The civil war that followed has so far claimed 500,000 lives, by one estimate, and forced 5.4 million Syrians to flee the country.

Germany has taken in the largest share of asylum-seekers from Syria and elsewhere, but increasingly faces a backlash from German voters worried about assimilation and loss of jobs. A wave of anti-immigrant sentiment elsewhere in Europe has led to Hungary building a wall to keep refugees out and influenced Great Britain's decision to leave the European Union. In the United States, President Trump was elected in part on his promise to build a wall to block Mexican immigrants from entering the country illegally.

Hsiang, now an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research, called the study an "incredibly important" wakeup 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." 

Colin Kelley, a climate scientist at Columbia's International Research Institute for Climate and Society who linked climate change to Syria's ongoing conflict, also praised the research. "It's unclear how much more warming will occur between now and the end of the century, but the study clearly demonstrates just how much climate change acts as a threat multiplier. Wealthier countries can expect to feel the direct and indirect effects of weather shocks from manmade climate change in poorer, less resilient countries."

The research was initiated at the request of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which also provided funding. "These findings will be especially important to policymakers since they show that climate impacts can go beyond the borders of a single country by possibly driving higher migration flows," said Juan-Carlos Ciscar, a senior expert at the JRC's Economics of Climate Change, Energy and Transport Unit. "Further research should look at ways for developing countries to adapt their agricultural practices to ."

Explore further: What is the Paris Agreement?

More information: A. Missirian el al., "Asylum applications respond to temperature fluctuations," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aao0432

Related Stories

What is the Paris Agreement?

November 17, 2017

On December 12, 2015, 195 countries gathered in the French capital to conclude the first truly universal climate treaty, the Paris Agreement, aimed at preventing worst-case-scenario global warming.

Video: How do we verify climate treaties?

October 18, 2017

As of May 2017, about 90 percent of all countries around the world have committed to the ambitious Paris Agreement to combat global climate change. The shared goal is to rein in greenhouse gas emissions enough to maintain ...

Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

July 31, 2017

Warming of the planet by 2 degrees Celsius is often seen as a "tipping point" that people should try to avoid by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.But the Earth is very likely to exceed that change, according to new University ...

Recommended for you

Learning about the Himalayas using Mars technology

June 20, 2018

The Himalayan Range includes some of the youngest and most spectacular mountains on Earth, but the rugged landscape that lends it the striking beauty for which it is known can also keep scientists from fully understanding ...

26 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

a_whitefree_europe
1 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2017
Settlers, not "asylum seekers".
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2017
Settlers, not "asylum seekers".


Potato, potahto.

How about "AGW-Induced Immigration", or AGWII- for short?
mackita
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2017
Settlers, not "asylum seekers"
Invaders you wanted to say? Settlers are people who are occupying new free locations and who build their settlements and culture by hard work from bottom up - not ruining the existing already occupied ones by their parasitic style of life from top to bottom. And both groups should be handled accordingly.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 22, 2017
BTW The above hypothesis has also its limits, because for example subsaharian Africa (Sahel) expands in result of global warming and it has more precipitations than before forty years. On the contrary the drought of southern Europe could lead to migration outside it. Fifty percent of the land in Crete, Spain and Greece is at high risk of desertification.
snoosebaum
not rated yet Dec 23, 2017
so the destruction of Libya was caused by GW ?
mackita
not rated yet Dec 23, 2017
IMO not - the Arab spring was result of low price/demand of oil, which was result of subprime mortgage crisis of the West and collapse of its production. The high price of oil (due to Iraq war) probably initiated this recession too.
MR166
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2017
What a crock!

Why do you think that the unrest in the ME was created. The New World Order folks, which include both Bushs and Obama, created these wars and armed the terrorists in order to induce this migration. BTW look who the migrants are, for the most part they are young males with no families. That sure looks like an invading army to me. You will gladly give up your remaining freedoms to the NWO in order to protect your families.

That is why open borders are so important. These invaders need easy access and government funding.
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2017
BTW New World Order = Soros and his cronies working with the UN !!!!
MR166
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2017
Just to show you what is happening, Obama imported at least 100,000 UNACOMPANIED South American minors into the US and called them "Dreamers". This is a blatant attempt to fill the US with potential liberal voters and disrupt the US. Many of them became MS13 gang members. BTW a report just came out and 30% of the felons in federal prisons are illegal immigrants. How's that for disrupting the system.
mackita
not rated yet Dec 23, 2017
IMO most of this mess is the result of overpopulation of Earth, beginning depletion of natural reserves (oil) and one century long ignorance of cold fusion and overunity findings by mainstream scientists. Although I could imagine, that people would manage to overcrowd the Earth anyway. The leaving the natural population regulation mechanisms to do their work is the only way, how to prohibit this scenario. It assumes to prohibit the immigrants in free spreading or we would just delay the solution of the overpopulation problem: the Earth cannot handle the infinite number of people anyway: with NWO or without it.
mackita
1 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2017
Obama imported at least 100,000 UNACOMPANIED South American minors into the US and called them "Dreamers"
This is still nothing in comparison to Europe - just the population of Germany enlarges by one million of immigrants (mostly by halfeducated Muslims who will never work there and who are hostile to Western values not to say religion) each year.
a_whitefree_europe
1 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2017
Settlers mackita, not "immigrants".
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2017
"so the destruction of Libya was caused by GW ?"

I did not say that. Obama did more harm than both Bushs combined.

BTW at the end of Iraq I Bush I did say that " This was the start of a new world order.". I now know what he meant by that.

Don't you find it interesting that the same groups that are pushing AGW are also pushing open borders? It is all part of the master plan to create a powerful central authority.

Also Bush II was pushing that fantasy called a Hydrogen Economy.
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2017
Europe will collapse under the burdens of it's social welfare policies. They worked perfectly well with a homogeneous society that found it abhorrent to milk these systems and used them only as an emergency system. Now they have the same problem that the US has. Vast numbers of people look to get every dime from the system that they can. In fact the pride of being employed and earning a living has been replaced by a government owes it to me attitude.
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2017
"Settlers mackita, not "immigrants"

Warriors whitefree not settlers.
MR166
3 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2017
Lastly, Bush II retained ALL of the deep state operatives in the governments agencies that were installed by the Clinton administration. Oh yea, I neglected to include Hillary and the Clinton Foundation in the NWO hierarchy.
J Doug
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2017
This "study "is a crock of diluted, sour dung. The issue in Syria is the fact that the country has been ruled by members of a minority sect of Islam, the Alawites, that constitute about 12% of Syria's population and this is the religious sect that the Assad family belongs to. Couple this fact with the religious make up of Syria where 74% are Sunnis and 13% are Shias, to include the Alawites and about 12% are Christians and one gets an idea of why there was an uprising in the 70 and 80s to overthrow the ruling tyrants and one gets an idea of the complexity of this whole sad affair. The ruling family being tied to the Shia branch of Islam has given the Iranians foot holds in the region and that has caused problems in Lebanon.
It had not one thing to do with CO₂.
J Doug
3 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2017
This, & not CO₂, partly explains this invasion from the Muslim world of despair and poverty:
Hijrah is jihad by emigration. It means moving to a new land in order to bring Islam there and is considered in Islam to be a holy and revered action. "And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance, and whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him, his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah." (4:100) http://quran.com/4/100
J Doug
3 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2017
"They found that the more temperatures over each country's agricultural region deviated from 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) during its growing season, the more likely people were to seek refuge abroad. Crops grow best at an average temperature of 20 degrees 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."

Can we assume that the idiots who complied this unfounded article didn't know about this?
"In 2016, world cereal production is set to increase by 1.5%, or 38 million tonnes, to hit a new record of 2.569 billion tonnes, topping by at least 5.5 million tonnes the preceding peak of 2014," it said. "The current FAO forecast is over 3 million tonnes higher than projected in September, with most of the upward revisions concerning wheat and rice."

J Doug
3 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2017
World wheat production in 2016 is expected to exceed the 2015 record by 1.2%, underpinned by output increases in India, the Russian Federation and the United States, it said.
http://www.world-...aspx?ID={F66FAB2B-AE1E-40B6-95F7-A7F92CD9B379}&cck=1

mackita
3 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2017
This is demography or Syria and this is demography of typical Western country. Note that Syria didn't build a single export factory during years of its existence, being dependent on selling of oil and raw sources as before one century, because nomadic Arab people are simply lazy and incapable of systematical work and savings. When they get into troubles, they just switch their location like locusts. Everyone can see, that the Middle East Countries cannot regulate their population - but the Western world isn't there for the solution of their problems. The people of Middle East should learn how to live and breed in sustainable style or Nature will solve their problem itself.
MR166
5 / 5 (1) Dec 26, 2017
J Doug your thoughts on Syria are correct as far as they go. The US played a major roll in creating this war by trying to depose a leader that, although unfriendly to the US, did stabilize the area. If you depose a leader in the ME you had better be prepared to stay in that country as their government for 25 years or so while things stabilize. The US knows this and that is why I am certain that the US deep state was part of the plan to create mass migrations by destabilizing this area. I think that the open border movement is no coincidence and all part of the plan to replace existing western governments with one ruling body.

And then came Trump throwing a monkey wench into the plans. THAT is why the left and the RINOs hate him so much!
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Dec 26, 2017
If you doubt me then please explain to me why ISIS has been defeated in in a matter of months while the previous 8 years produced nothing.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 26, 2017
Higher temperatures.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 26, 2017
Settlers mackita, not "immigrants"

Warriors whitefree not settlers
-How about refugees, insurgents, and overrunners?

"New World Order: Muslims to be majority in Europe within two generations..."

-Charles Martel would be SO disappointed.

No coincidence that this flood comes from regions with the highest religion-induced pop growth rates.

"More recently, researchers have highlighted the connection between the drying of the Middle East and ongoing conflict there."

-Conflict is a symptom of overpopulation. AGW is the cure.

God's will.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2017
sorry mr i meant to give you a 5

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.