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European leaders met in Brussels regarding the Syrian refugee crisis, and deep divisions remain about how to handle it. Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that his nation is being overwhelmed and that “In the next few days and weeks, I do believe that the European Union and Europe as a whole will begin to fall apart.”

This immense human tragedy also affirms the significance of a recent study in the journal Nature, regarding climate change and sea level rise. The study concludes that unless we limit global temperatures to 1.5 to two degrees Celsius above present levels, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will cause unstoppable sea level rise that will continue for hundreds to thousands of years.

A 2009 report on the effects of climate change on human migration that was sponsored in part by the U.N. Refugee Agency states that sea level rise of one meter could affect more than 23 million people in the Ganges, Mekong and Nile river deltas alone. The report warns that by mid-century, the number of people displaced by the impacts of climate change “could vastly exceed anything that has occurred before.”

The danger of creating massive numbers of climate refugees illustrates why climate change is a moral issue. As we approach the Paris climate negotiations at the end of November, let’s remember that a stable climate is a basic condition for human thriving.

Terry Hansen

Oak Creek

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