Wednesday, October 04, 2023

European mass inward migration and melting Arctic

Scientists from the US Geological Survey predict that by 2050, the lack of sea ice will have reduced polar bear numbers by about two-thirds. By 2040, summer sea ice is expected to recede to a band around north-eastern Canada and northern Greenland, taking polar bears with it. This remote area could provide the very last bastion for sea ice-dependent Arctic species, such as polar bears to make their last stand.

Climate change was likely the catalyst that spurred our early modern humans to leave Africa. Archaeologists speculate that our ancestors left 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, or maybe earlier, following coastlines and islands through Southeast Asia toward Australia. In June 2023 archaeologists uncovered two new bone fragments in a cave in northern Laos, suggesting that Homo Sapiens wandered southeast Asia up to 86,000 years ago. The findings indicate that humans migrated through the area earlier than previously thought.

2.7°C is the median of the combined low and high ends of current policy projections on climate change. This is a global average. A heatwave such as the recent one would occur every 2-5 years in a world that is 2°C warmer than the preindustrial climate.

Extreme heat will be regional and before the end of the 21st century, the heat could trigger unprecedented migration. 

Ancient hunters stayed in the coldest part of Northern Europe rather than migrating to escape freezing winter conditions, archaeologists have found. Dr Alexander Pryor, from the University of Exeter, who led a study, said: "Our research shows the cold harsh winter climates of the last ice age were no barrier to human activity in the area. Hunters made very specific choices about where and when to kill their prey."

However, with the Arctic ice melted, Northern Europe will be a refuge from extreme heat.

The summer of 2023 was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

I had the experience of a 52°C / 126°F temperature in July 1995 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Temperature levels like these have become common, and worse, in summers.   

The Washington Post reported on August 9, 2023, "In coastal Iran on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, the heat index leapt as high as 158°F (Fahrenheit) degrees (70°C Celsius), a level so extreme that it can test the ability of humans to survive outside for more than a few hours.

"Heat indexes have regularly surpassed 140 degrees (60 Celsius) in the region in recent weeks, while nights have offered little relief. In populous cities such as Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait City, heat indexes have only fallen to 100 to 120 degrees (37.8 to 48.9 Celsius) after dark."

When temperatures outside are extreme, an air conditioning system can consume more energy and begin to malfunction or fail. In the tropics, the poor do not have that convenience.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that flooding will increase significantly over the next 30 years because of sea level rises according to a 2022 report by an interagency, sea level rise task force, that includes NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other US federal agencies. Titled Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States, the Feb. 15 report concludes that sea levels along US coastlines will rise between 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimetres) on average above today’s levels by 2050.

One study from 2020 predicts that by 2070, depending on scenarios of population growth and warming, "one to three billion people are projected to be left outside the climate conditions that have served humanity well over the past 6,000 years."

The authors, Chi Xu1, Timothy A Kohler, Timothy M. Lenton, Christian Svenning and Marten Scheffer, say "We show that for thousands of years, humans have concentrated in a surprisingly narrow subset of Earth’s available climates, characterized by mean annual temperatures around ∼13°C. This distribution likely reflects a human temperature niche related to fundamental constraints. We demonstrate that depending on scenarios of population growth and warming, over the coming 50 years, 1 to 3 billion people are projected to be left outside the climate conditions that have served humanity well over the past 6,000 years. Absent climate mitigation or migration, a substantial part of humanity will be exposed to mean annual temperatures warmer than nearly anywhere today." Future of the human climate niche.

25-26° N - Alasdair Rae of Visual Capitalist says "Breaking down the population by latitude, we see the population becomes more concentrated near the equator. In particular, the 25th and 26th parallel north are the most densely populated latitude circles. Around 279mn people reside in these latitude lines, which run through large countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, the United States, Mexico, and others.

A child born today whether in Dublin or Dhaka may live through decades of upheaval

Some 60% of the world's population is under the age of 40, half of these (and growing) under 20, and they will form most of the world's people for the rest of this century. "Many of these young, energetic job seekers are likely to be among those moving as the climate changes – will they add to economic growth to build sustainable societies, or will their talents be wasted?"

Temperatures in Europe have increased at more than twice the global average in the last 30 years, according to a November 2022, report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). From 1991 to 2021, temperatures in Europe have warmed at an average rate of about 0.5°C a decade. This has had physical results: Alpine glaciers lost 30 metres in ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, while the Greenland ice sheet has also been melting, contributing to sea level rise. In the summer of 2021, Greenland had its first-ever recorded rainfall at its highest point, Summit Station.

Alpine glaciers could disappear by the end of the century. The consequences will be felt not only in Switzerland’s mountains but throughout Europe.

Higher sea levels and new sea routes from Asia will bring migrants.

Canada, the Nordic countries, Ireland, Britain, Northern France, countries of the North Sea and Russia will be attractive to the citizens of extreme heat countries.

Gaia Vince, the science writer of 'Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval' (2022) following, 'Adventures in the Anthropocene' spells out how a world with a global average by the end of the century, at 3°C to 4°C (global average) hotter than the pre-industrial average would.

She says it could be "a living nightmare marked by “drowned cities; stagnant seas; a crash in biodiversity; intolerable heatwaves; entire countries becoming uninhabitable; widespread hunger . . . ”

Vince says “Whether we will manage the transition through calm preparation or wait until hunger and conflict erupt — an unconscionable outcome that would endanger us all.”

The UN’s International Organization for Migration estimates there could be 1.5bn environmental migrants by 2050.

"The exodus will come not just from poorer countries such as Bangladesh and Sudan; Australia, rapidly turning into the land of drought and fire, is already suffering, along with US cities such as Miami and New Orleans. "

Close to a billion Indians and about 500mn Chinese are at risk of climate displacement, she writes, "along with populations in Latin America and Africa. Most will be fleeing for survival but the middle classes will also see their comfortable existences upended as mortgages, particularly in previously desirable coastal neighbourhoods, become unobtainable and houses uninsurable."

Gaia Vince says "The most densely populated areas of the planet are clustered around the 25-26th north parallels which has traditionally been the latitude of most comfortable climate and fertile land. An estimated 279mn people are packed into this thin band of land, which cuts through countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, the United States and Mexico.

But the conditions here are changing. On average, climate niches – the range of conditions at which species can normally exist – around the world are moving polewards at a pace of 1.15m (3.8ft) per day, although it's far faster in some places.

"Adapting to the changing climate will mean chasing our own shifting niche – which for much of human history has been within the temperature range –11°C to 15°C (12°F to 59°F) – as it migrates north from the equator. True livability limits are the borders we must worry about as the world warms over this century, bringing unbearable heat, drought, floods, fires, storms, and coastal erosion that make agriculture impossible and displace people.

Already record numbers of people are being forced to flee their homes with each passing year. In 2021, there were 89.3mn people, double the number forcibly displayed a decade ago, and in 2022 that number reached 100mn, with climate disasters displacing many more people than conflicts. Floods displaced 33mn people in Pakistan this year, while millions more in Africa have been affected by drought and the threat of famine, from the Horn of Africa to the continent's west coast."

"Compounding this, the global population is still growing, particularly in some of the regions worst hit by cli­mate change and poverty. Populations in Africa are set to almost triple by 2100, even as those elsewhere slow in growth. This means there will be a greater number of people in the very areas that are likely to be worst affected by extreme heat, drought and catastrophic storms. A greater number of people will also need food, water, power, housing and resources, just as these become ever ­harder to supply."

Interview: Gaia Vince on how climate change will shape where people live

European Union asylum seekers came from around 140 countries in 2022

In 2022, asylum seekers came from around 140 countries. 962,200 applications, including 881,200  – first-time applications, were lodged in the EU in 2022, an increase of 52% in comparison to 2021, and of 38% than in 2019, before COVID.

Overall, the UN estimated that the number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades. The total estimated 281mn people living in a country other than their countries of birth in 2020 was 128mn more than in 1990 and over three times the estimated number in 1970.

The current global estimate is that there were around 281mn international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6% of the global population.

The estimate of "illegal aliens" in the United States was 51mn or 15.5% of the population.

In the EU in 2022, around one-fifth (21%) of people living in private households aged 15-74 years were either a descendant of foreign-born persons or themselves foreign-born.

Among the EU Member States, the share of foreign-born persons among people aged 15-74 years ranged from less than 1.0 % to more than 50 % in 2022. The share was lowest in Romania (0.2 %), Bulgaria (0.4 %) and Poland (0.7 %). It was also below 5.0 % in Slovakia, Hungary and Czechia.

In Western Europe Denmark at 11.2%, Finland at 9.8% and Italy at 12.5%, have the lowest foreign-born numbers.

Belgium was at 21.4%; Germany 25.2%; France 15.1%; Spain 18.1%; Netherlands 15.4%; Sweden 24.1%; Austria 23.9%; Ireland 25.2% and Luxembourg 55.5%.

There are 47mn foreign-born but the number is likely greater.

In my previous post, I wrote [A paper by Jacques Lévy and others, using phone data, found a “big surprise”: on average, there were about 5mn customers of non-French phone operators in France in 2022-23, compared with just under 2mn foreign visitors measured by “official data.”]

420,100 non-EU citizens were ordered to leave the EU in 2022 but 77,500 non-EU citizens were returned to a non-EU country. This corresponds to 18.5% of all return decisions issued during the year, decreasing from 20% in 2021.

The European Commission says that among the nationalities with at least 5,000 return orders, "the return rate was particularly low for those coming from Afghanistan (1.1%) Syria (1.9%) Côte d'Ivoire (3.6%) Guinea (4.7%) and Bangladesh (5.8%)."

In 2022, the Commission says that nearly 1,700 Member States' consulates received 7.6mn short-stay visa applications from non-EU citizens, up from 2.9mn in 2021 but 55% less than in 2019. In total, 5.9mn short-stay visas were issued and 1.3mn were refused, amounting to an EU-wide refusal rate of 17.9% (up from 13.4% in 2021).

Most applications were lodged in: Türkiye (778,400) Russia (687,200) India (671,900) Morocco (423,200) Algeria (392,100). Most visa applications were processed by France (1,918,500) Spain (1,197,500) Germany (1,043,300) Italy (727,500) and Greece (459,100).

58% of all visas were issued for multiple entries. Short-stay visas cover travel throughout the 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

There are no data on how many people overstay their visas.


According to the latest population projections issued by Eurostat last March, the EU’s population will decrease by 6% between 1 January 2022 and 1 January 2100, equivalent to 27.3mn fewer people.

6% ❗❗ A lot will happen in almost 80 years.

In recent years in West Africa in particular the bad old days are back with the coup d'état.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC), migrant smugglers could earn around $1,400 a month, or 20 times the average income in Burkina Faso. “Lucky smugglers” can earn as much as $15,000 to $20,000 per month, a smuggler in Niger said in a report.

Human trafficking can take place within the victim’s home country or in another country while migrant smuggling always happens across national borders.

For the route between North Africa and Europe's closest coasts in Italy and Greece, prices range from €3,000 to €10,000 (up to $10,000), and sometimes more, said Sami Hamdi, director of the London-based global risk and intelligence firm International Interest. "That includes the journey to the North African coast and the boat crossing," he added.

According to Eurostat, during the period 2001 to 2020, the total population of the EU increased from 429mn to 447mn, a growth of 4%. Seventeen Member States showed increases in their population during this period and ten recorded decreases levels. The largest relative increases were recorded in Luxembourg (43%), Malta (31%), Ireland (30%) and Cyprus (27%), while the largest relative decreases were observed in Lithuania (−20%) and Latvia (−19%).

Over the period 2002-2022, the share of persons aged 65 and over increased in all Member States. At the EU level, the increase was 5 percentage points (pp), from 16% to 21%. The highest increase was in Finland (8pp) and the lowest in Luxembourg (1pp). In 2022, Italy and Portugal (both 24%) and Finland and Greece (both 23%) had the highest shares, while Ireland and Luxembourg (both 15%) had the lowest.

"Looking more specifically at the group aged 80 and over, their share grew in all Member States, at EU level by 2.6pp, from 3.5% in 2002 to 6.1% in 2022. The highest increase was in Greece (+3.5 pp, from 3.7% to 7.2%) and the lowest in Sweden (+0.2 pp., from 5.2% to 5.4%).

A decrease of young people below 20: Over the period 2002-2022, the share of young people (aged 0 to 19 years old) decreased in all Member States. At EU level, the decrease was 3pp, from 23% to 20%. The highest decreases were in Malta (−9pp) and Cyprus (−8 pp) and the lowest in Sweden, Belgium and Spain (all −1pp). In 2022, the highest shares of young people were in Ireland (26%) and France (24%), and the lowest in Malta and Italy (both 18%).

Concerning children (those aged below 15), the decrease in the EU was 2pp, from 17% in 2002 to 15% in 2022. A decrease was observed in all Member States, except Czechia (+0.2 pp), with the highest decreases in Malta (−6pp) and Cyprus (−5pp). In 2022, the share of children and adolescents was highest in Ireland (20%) and Sweden (18%) and lowest in Italy, Portugal and Malta (all 13%)."

Among the EU Member States, the highest median age in 2022 was observed in Italy (48.0 years), followed by Portugal (46.8), Greece (46.1) and Germany (45.8), while the lowest were recorded in Cyprus (38.3 years), Ireland (38.8), Luxembourg (39.7) and Malta (40.4). During the period 2002 to 2022, the median age increased most in Portugal (8.6 years), followed by Romania (8.5), Greece and Lithuania (both 7.8).

Irish Independent newspaper: "Nearly half (49%) of all practising nurses in Ireland in 2022 obtained their first nursing qualification outside the state, new report from the Department of Health shows.

According to the new data, the top three countries for these foreign-trained nurses were India, the United Kingdom and the Philippines respectively.

In 2022, the number of practising nurses in Ireland stood at 67,808, resulting in a 5.8% increase from the previous year."

Whether it's Asia or Europe, foreign workers are typically paid lower than natives. At least in Europe, there are limits on hours of work.

There's a regional election in Bavaria and Hesse on Sunday, October 8, 2023, and Alternative for Germany (German: Alternative für Deutschland: AfD), a far-right party, has surged in national polls to 21%. The right-wing populist political party is known for its Euroscepticism, as well as for opposing immigration to Germany.

A former chairman, Alexander Gauland, revealingly dismissed the Nazi era as “a speck of birdshit on German history” (The Economist).

On September 29, 2023, US/South African billionaire, Elon Musk, weighed into a dispute between Germany and Italy concerning illegal migrants' landings. Musk said in apparent support of AfD “Let’s hope AfD wins the elections to stop this European suicide."

Also last week Musk visited the US border with Mexico to meet local politicians and representatives of law enforcement officials in order, as he put it, to build up an “unfiltered” view of the situation. He called for an expansion of legal immigration and restrictions on irregular border crossings.

The German broadcaster DW says "The economic engine of the state [ Bavaria and Hesse] is the Frankfurt metropolitan region, where Germany's largest airport is located. That area alone employs around 81,000 people from 90 nations. Some 17% of Hesse's population of 6.3mn has a non-German passport; in Frankfurt itself, it is as many as 29% of all residents."

In recent decades in Europe, migration has resulted in far-right parties being launched in well-run and prosperous Nordic countries, together with the Netherlands and Switzerland. In some of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, authoritarianism and corruption have been evident.

The anti-foreigner European conservative/populist nationalists learned a lesson from the Brexit folly and moved on to remain in the Union. However, they have a new cause célèbre: rubbishing climate change.

Last month the AfD headed opposition to a German government push to require people to install expensive heat pumps in their homes. The government had to water down the measures. The heat pumps were priced at around €20,000. The governing coalition had promised to reimburse Germans up to 70% of the cost of newly installed heat pumps, depending on their income level.

The Economost's calculations show that 15 of the EU’s 27 member countries now have hard-right parties which have support of 20% or more in opinion polls, including every large country bar Spain, where the nationalist Vox did badly in July’s elections.

Almost four-fifths of the EU’s population now live in countries where the hard right commands the loyalty of at least a fifth of the public.

"The war in Ukraine has created a pressing need for the EU to welcome new members in the east, ultimately including Ukraine. In tandem, it will need to streamline decision-making to reduce the veto powers member states wield.

The presence of a larger bloc of anti-immigrant nationalists could make that crucial task far harder. Hungary’s Viktor Orban, a guru to other populist-nationalists, has consistently tried to block EU reform. Imagine if he gains more allies."
The Arctic region covers parts of eight countries: Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the United States.