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Climate Change Could Crowd Middle of Europe

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  • Mike Neuman
    Climate Change Could Crowd Middle of Europe DENMARK: May 23, 2005 COPENHAGEN - The middle of Europe could become crowded by climate change refugees escaping
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2005
      Climate Change Could Crowd Middle of Europe

      DENMARK: May 23, 2005

      COPENHAGEN - The middle of Europe could become crowded by "climate
      change refugees" escaping a thawing Arctic to the north and
      Mediterranean droughts to the south, the head of the European
      Environment Agency (EEA) said on Friday.

      Indigenous peoples in the Arctic say global warming is a threat to
      their culture because it melts the ice on which their hunts of seals
      or polar bears depend. And some scientific models indicate southern
      Europe may get drier.

      "I do see even within the confines of Europe from the Mediterranean
      to the Arctic there is enough momentum to consider we will
      have 'climate change refugees'," said Jacqueline McGlade, executive
      director of the EEA, an arm of the European Union.

      "The difficulties are going to be when the northern people are moving
      away because permafrost (hard-frozen ground) is melting and southern
      people are moving up because of drought. They (are) all going to end
      up in the middle," she told a news conference.

      The panel of scientists that advises the United Nations projects
      world temperatures are likely to rise by 1.4 to 5.8C (2.5 to 10.5F)
      by 2100, triggering more frequent floods, droughts, melting icecaps
      and driving thousands of species to extinction.

      Many scientists say emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from
      cars, power plants and factories are mainly to blame for blanketing
      the planet and nudging up temperatures. Others say models are
      unreliable and exaggerate the effects.

      McGlade said a warming climate might discourage people from living or
      retiring by the Mediterranean.

      "If in the next 20 to 30 years those conditions around the
      Mediterranean are going to move towards an extreme with drought and
      lack of water, will people then retire to such countries?" she asked.
      She said people already living in those areas might also migrate
      northwards when that started to happen.

      A report last year by 250 experts said climate change was happening
      fastest in the Arctic, partly because dark soil or water, once
      exposed, soaks up far more heat than snow or ice. (Additional
      reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo)
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