What are the big challenges regarding climate change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?
Climate change is a term that came to existence in 1966 when the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) proposed an all encompassing term for variations to climate during a ten year intervals. It was eventually realised that human activity had greater impact on climate variability, than the Earth’s own natural processes, moreover it has become interchangeable with global warming for the greatest change (environmentally, economically and socially). Climate change refugees are new phenomenon to which within the last 30 years have become observed and a serious issue for the future, according to the UNHCR since 2009 ‘ an estimated one person per second is displaced by a disaster’ which will only increase(Refugees, 2016). Especially with atmospheric carbon dioxide increasing by 80 ppm (parts per million) since 1950, when since the inception of humanity it remained under 300ppm (Graph of Carbon Dioxide levels, 2016). As a result, there will be a range of challenges that will have to be accounted for and solutions created for the future, which will inevitably see many climate change refugees migrating internally and externally as a result of their areas being uninhabitable.
Global warming is the most pressing concern globally to the Earth’s environments for it has brought a whole host of issues, it occurs due to greenhouse gases namely carbon dioxide trapping the energy from the sun and heat in the atmosphere, which has reportedly (The Arctic Journal, 2016) lead to Greenland’s 3cm per year sea level rise. But most worryingly, is the increase in methane (which is 30x more impactful than CO2) which comes mostly from cattle livestock who produce methane in their flatulence, thus other forms of meat would have to become regular such as mealworms which are currently being reared for human consumption, to combat this phenomenon.
Global dimming which is also the result of the greenhouse effect according to (Globalissues.org, 2016) where polluted air creates greater surface area, and greater reflection which will reflect most of the Sun’s energy and heat back into space. It has been shown to be initially beneficial in slowing the rate of this energy and heat being trapped in the atmosphere, however it is has led to these pollutants being respiratory irritant to acid rain. It has also led to the displacement of many individuals in the Sahel in Northern Africa, with less rain forming over this region and as result leading to more famines which has been predicted to kill over a million people and affecting 50 million people in Africa. This is obviously a very big problem, as the displacement of individuals in these regions will lead to socio-economic and political issues, as internally in areas in Africa where many cultures thrive it could lead to tensions where wars and violence could ensue. Further, it would need large amounts of money to help in restoring these areas, assimilating the individuals into desirable regions, ensuring these individuals have a high quality of life. Externally would require international co-operation and determination as with the recent migration crisis, and awareness of climate change (refugees) and acceptance globally. Global dimming and warming would have to be dealt with simultaneously to ensure no further damage.
Lastly, another challenge is the dangers posed by nuclear energy and to a lesser extent nuclear weapons, which would displace millions of humans if a region becomes contaminated with radiation. Nuclear energy has become an important source due to its renewability and its great output of power, however it is a highly dangerous source of energy as nuclear fission leads to lots waste which has to be disposed of, it is highly susceptible to meltdowns, and it is a long and expensive process to maintain and shutdown these nuclear plants. As shown by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster which has submerged the city Pripyat and its surrounding regions with 20,000 times the normal levels of radiation, and the recent Fukushima reactor incident in 2011 where 36% of children in the Fukushima region has been shown to have abnormal growths in their thyroid glands (Ryall, 2012). As shown this would lead to displacement of many groups of people, and would need effective control of the affected areas to ensure that the radiation is not spread to the surrounding areas, especially if on the Chernobyl scale where regions are uninhabitable for 20,000 years. Thus, there would not only be attempts to create contingency plans to ensure that migration is solved long-term, but also greater regulations on nuclear power stations ( in which a more reliable and less dangerous form could be used as a replacement), and all power stations eventually being shutdown. Moreover, international co-operation to get rid of nuclear weapons and methods of creation, attainment and deployment ; because nuclear warfare would create the greatest number of environmental migrants, with much displacement due to radioactive regions.
Globalissues.org. (2016). Global Dimming — Global Issues. [online] Available at: http://www.globalissues.org/article/529/global-dimming [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].
Graph of Carbon Dioxide levels. (2016). [image] Available at: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ [Accessed 22 Jun. 2016].
Refugees, U. (2016). Climate Change and Disasters. [online] UNHCR. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/climate-change-and-disasters.html [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].
Ryall, J. (2012). Nearly 36pc of Fukushima children diagnosed with thyroid growths. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9410702/Nearly-36pc-of-Fukushima-children-diagnosed-with-thyroid-growths.html [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].
The Arctic Journal. (2016). Global warming. [online] Available at: http://arcticjournal.com/climate/1021/global-warming [Accessed 20 Jun. 2016].