22 December 2017   Leave a comment

Environmental economists Wolfram Schlenker and Anouch Missirian have published a paper in Science that correlates requests for asylum in Europe and climate change projections of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  The abstract of the paper reads:

“Here we examine how, in the recent past (2000–2014), weather variations in 103 source countries translated into asylum applications to the European Union, which averaged 351,000 per year in our sample. We find that temperatures that deviated from the moderate optimum (~20°C) increased asylum applications in a nonlinear fashion, which implies an accelerated increase under continued future warming. Holding everything else constant, asylum applications by the end of the century are predicted to increase, on average, by 28% (98,000 additional asylum applications per year) under representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenario 4.5 and by 188% (660,000 additional applications per year) under RCP 8.5 for the 21 climate models in the NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections”.

2016 saw a record number of asylum seekers in Europe.  According to the Public Broadcasting System: “The EU received 1.2 million applications from first-time asylum seekers in 2015, a record setting number and more than double the year prior. What’s more, about half of Europe’s asylum applicants from 2015 to 2016 still had decisions pending at the end of 2016.”  An increase of 188% would be politically unsustainable.


If you are rich, however, there is a different way to get into Europe: buy distressed properties in Greece whose housing market has yet to recover from the financial crisis of 2008-09.  Russians, Chinese, Turks, and Arabs are snapping up these properties and buying a “golden” passport from Greece.  According to Bloomberg:

“Greece awarded 2,053 golden visas between 2013 and October 2017, with Chinese investors accounting for 43 percent of them, according to Enterprise Greece, the state agency responsible for promoting investments and exports. Russians are in second place with 18.6 percent and investors from neighboring Turkey third at 8.4 percent. Greece has raised more than 513 million euros in foreign investments from the visa program.”

With a resident visa from Greece, foreigners have access to the entire European Union under the Schengen Program.


In an interesting twist to a long-simmering story, pro-independence candidates have won 70 seats in the 135-seat Catalan regional parliament.  The regional election was called by the central government of Spain after an attempt at independence by Catalonian separatists was short-circuited by the imposition of Spanish control over the regional government.  It now appears that Spain will continue to address the demands for independence, although the three parties that have the majority of seats are not united in their stance toward independence or greater autonomy.  The leaders of the pro-independence parties state that they will only meet with the Spanish government outside of Spain.

Election Results

The pro-independence parties are Mr Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity (CUP)

Graphic showing split in Catalan parliament

Posted December 22, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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