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How Climate Change Could Make the Migrant Crisis Worse

Researchers find a link between dramatic temperature fluctuations and migration.

Scientists have for years cited extreme weather events connected to climate change as a contributing factor in the ongoing European migrant crisis. That problem is about to get much worse, according to a new study in the journal Science. Researchers evaluated asylum applications submitted to the European Union from migrants in more than 100 countries between 2000 and 2014, and found a link between dramatic temperature fluctuations and migration.

As temperatures rise, researchers say unchecked climate change could drive a 188% increase in the number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe annually by the end of the century, as migrants seek to escape temperature extremes that might disrupt livelihoods and worsen geopolitical conflicts. Even if a global effort slows the pace of global warming along the lines outlined in the Paris Agreement, researchers expect close to a 30% increase in the number of asylum applications.