Prince Charles warns of extinction threat to islands

Britain’s Prince Charles, left first row, attends the Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Conference (RDRCC) in the Commonwealth, in central London on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Prince Charles warns of extinction threat to islands

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Charles warned that tiny island nations could be wiped off the map by climate change, at a Commonwealth gathering geared toward finding practical ways to reverse its effects.
Charles, the heir to the throne, said the planet was facing an existential crisis as he urged the Commonwealth to take forward its ideas to COP23, the next UN climate summit in the German city of Bonn in November.
While the 52-member Commonwealth contains G20 industrial powers like Britain, Canada and Australia and emerging forces like India and Nigeria, many of its members are developing island microstates.
The 2015 COP21 Paris accord targets keeping the rise in temperatures within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and strives for 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.
Charles said some northern nations seemed worryingly ambivalent about the difference.
“For some countries, particularly, the small island developing states of the Commonwealth, the difference could scarcely be more critical as it may literally mean the survival of their countries or their extinction,” he told ambassadors and science experts gathered at the organization’s London headquarters.
“We face an existential crisis in every sense of the word.”
A two-day Commonwealth conference in October brought together global experts to thrash out innovative schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Thursday’s gathering brought together the results of that conference and try and forge a common approach to COP23.
“The task we face is not only to protect nature but also to collaborate with nature,” said Charles.
“The ideas we need are already out there but they will not happen by chance.”
The Commonwealth is looking at notions including carbon-absorbing concrete and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
They have also considered buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin to move through water more efficiently.
Also raised were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
US ecovillage godfather Albert Bates said that, critically, taking carbon out of the atmosphere could be a profitable business, bucking common perception.
He said he had been experimenting with biochar, a pure form of charcoal made from waste products like cardboard boxes.
“You can also use it as plaster or paint. It takes mold and smoke out of the buildings and sequesters it in the walls. It cleans sick buildings,” he told AFP, saying it would be useful in damp climates.
Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said experts were coming up with some “really extraordinary science.”
“Action plans are what I’m really looking for,” she told AFP.
“We want to serve the rest of the globe.”
Anote Tong, who was president of Kiribati from 2003 to 2016, said his central Pacific nation of reef islands and atolls, was facing extinction without international action.
He said that, when in office, he had talks with neighbors Fiji, who would accomodate the entire 100,000-strong population if necessitated by climate change and rising sea levels.
“I did look into the future and it doesn’t look good,” he told AFP.
“The trend, in combination with the science coming forward, is frightening.
“Will we continue to survive into the future? I suggest no.
“The science is saying that we will be under water.”
The Commonwealth wants to have a full regenerative development plan in place by its next leaders’ summit in 2018 in London.


Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

Updated 21 June 2018
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Scientific study finds asylum seekers boosting European economies

  • Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found
  • The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa

NEW YORK: Asylum seekers moving to Europe have raised their adopted nations’ economic output, lowered unemployment and not placed a burden on public finances, scientists said on Wednesday.
An analysis of economic and migration data for the last three decades found asylum seekers added to gross domestic products and boosted net tax revenues by as much as 1 percent, said a study published in Science Advances by French economists.
The findings come amid a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
An annual report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released on Tuesday showed the global number of refugees grew by a record 2.9 million in 2017 to 25.4 million.
The research from 1985 to 2015 looked at asylum seekers — migrants who demonstrate a fear of persecution in their homeland in order to be resettled in a new country.
“The cliché that international migration is associated with economic ‘burden’ can be dispelled,” wrote the scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research, the University of Clermont-Auvergne and Paris-Nanterre University.
The research analyzed data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found. They marginally lowered unemployment rates and had a near-zero impact of public finances, it said.
Greece, where the bulk of migrants fleeing civil war in Syria have entered Europe, was not included because fiscal data before 1990 was unavailable, it said.
Chad Sparber, an associate professor of economics at the US-based Colgate University, said the study was a reminder there is no convincing economic case against humanitarian migration.
But he warned against dismissing the views of residents who might personally feel a negative consequence of immigration.
“There are people who do lose or suffer,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Immigration on balance is good,” he said. “But I still recognize that it’s not true for every person.”