Published on The Guardian, by Ian Traynor, March 10, 2008.
In its half-century history, the EU has absorbed wave upon wave of immigrants. There were the millions of political migrants fleeing Russian-imposed communism to western Europe throughout the cold war, the post-colonial and “guest worker” migrants who poured into western Europe in the boom years of the 1950s and 60s, the hundreds of thousands who escaped the Balkan wars of the 90s and the millions of economic migrants of the past decade seeking a better life.
Now, according to the EU’s two senior foreign policy officials, Europe needs to brace itself for a new wave of migration with a very different cause – global warming. The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are engendering a new type of refugee, the “environmental migrant” …
… Europe, the officials imply, needs to get its act together if there is to be any chance of managing the apocalyptic scenarios outlined. What the report does not say is that if demographics are any measure of potential power, Europe’s task is that much harder.
The average European is currently aged 39 and Europeans, including Russians, make up some 11% of the world’s population of 6.7 billion.
By 2050 that figure will have shrunk to 7%, with the average age of Europeans being over 47 and the elderly outnumbering children by more than two to one. A weaker Europe may have to cope with the challenges listed by Solana and Ferrero-Waldner, but environmental migrants may enlarge and rejuvenate its population.
Areas under threat: … (full long text).