It is time to stop scaremongering about global warming in northern Europe. A new study, published in the Environmental Research Letters, shows that climate change can help to revitalize this part of the continent, particularly the UK:
Climate change could help to revitalize the flagging economies of northern Europe over the coming decades. The UK in particular is set to benefit from an influx of skilled migrants, relocating from the countries hit hardest by global warming. New work in Environmental Research Letters (ERL) suggests that this wave of migrants could help to alleviate some of the economic and social pressures caused by an aging population.
The inhabitants of the developed world are living longer and having fewer children. As a result, they are on the march towards an aging, and ultimately contracting, population. Already one fifth of the population is over the age of 60, while only one sixth is under the age of 15 in more developed regions, like northern Europe. By 2050, projections suggest th at there will be twice as many older people as there are young people.
The arrival of these older age structures in Europe's population has raised concern over the social and economic pressures that they may bring. Who is going to pay for pensions and healthcare, for example? And what is going to attract and keep young skilled workers so that Europe can avoid economic decline?
Northern Europe, by contrast, is predicted to fare better when climate change takes hold. "As a result, northern European cities are likely to become more attractive to skilled migrants, because they are situated in less environmentally challenging zones," argued Harper in her paper. Southern Europe is predicted to be too dry to benefit in the same way.
But will these skilled migrants be attracted to northern Europe in time to relieve the demographic deficit? "The skills shortage is expected to really hit northern Europe within the next couple of decades," said Harper. Climate models indicate that some of the more serious impacts of climate change will start to bite around the same time. Only time will tell, but if the models and projections are right then Asia's loss may be northern Europe's gain.