Expert: Hundreds of Millions of Refugees, Migrants Could Flood Europe

November 29, 2015

2 min read

While Europe is floundering under the burden of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees knocking at its doors, one Israeli professor predicts this could just be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming, Haaretz reported.

According to Professor Arnon Soffer, a geostrategist at the University of Haifa and adviser to the Israeli government, a combination of exponential population growth and significant climate change could send hundreds of millions of African migrants to seek new shores, with Europe the most logical destination.

The paper cited Soffer and Professor Ronnie Ellenblum of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who both discussed their predictions for the decades to come, ahead of the global climate change conference in Paris early next month.

Soffer believes that a worst-case scenario would result in parts of the Middle East and Africa becoming uninhabitable, as global warming could cause average temperatures in the area to increase by as much as eight to 12 degrees Celsius by 2100. Even the more conservative estimate of only a two to four degree increase would render the region extremely uncomfortable, encouraging many to leave for milder regions.

The astronomical population growth in the Middle East and Africa serves to exacerbate the potential crisis. While the worldwide population has increased steadily over time, this region has managed to quadruple its population from 1950 to 2008. Quality of life will deteriorate as more people fight for scarce resources in the region, even if climate change does not happen. Add the predicted impact of global warming to the mix and the world may have a disaster on its hands.

Meanwhile, Ellenblum studies historical weather patterns and their impact on society. He is an expert in the Crusader period in particular, which includes a cold trough known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly, around the 10th and 11th centuries CE. He points to the mass migration of that era which first brought many populations to the Middle East. The weather weakened local powers, allowing invaders to take over.

“At the peak of this period, in the year 1055, the great city Baghdad fell to nomad invaders,” Ellenblum notes. In striking parallel, throughout the winter of 2013-2014, drought afflicted the territory now controlled by ISIS.

Ellenblum is careful to say, “I’m a historian, not a forecaster,” and is more cautious than Soffer. Still, he accepts the position that climate change is a reality, and history suggests that it will cause mass migration.

To date, not one country worldwide has met its commitments to reduce carbon emissions, to say nothing of the damage done to the environment until now. If this trend continues and Soffer is right, Europe may be looking forward to an overwhelming influx of weather-beaten refugees.

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