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Cascading Disasters in the Mediterranean: Storm in Lampedusa

800px-Boat_People_at_Sicily_in_the_Mediterranean_SeaLast Friday the Mediterranean areas around Southern Italy experienced a rare “Medicane” event of tropical storm-like conditions. Jeff Master’s explains the science behind these rare weather events, and the likelihood of seeing more of them under a changing climate.

Storms of this nature are just one more stress to the small Italian island that is also a main point of entry to the European Union for migrants and refugees from places like Syria and Eritrea. The voyage from point of origin to the shores of Europe and Italy is no cruise (more…)

Purgatory in Paradise: What Lampedusa Tells Us About Our Climate Future

Lampedusa_mapThe tiny island of Lampedusa sits 70 miles off the coast of the North African nation of Tunisia, its nearest neighbor. But politically, it belongs to Europe – more specifically, to the government of Italy and the European Union. It is, in many ways, a quintessential borderland. For many African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees, it is the closest path to survival and hopefully, prosperity in the European Union. It is seen by some as a paradise on the horizon. But that paradise is also a purgatory. The island houses a “holding facility” that takes in tens of thousands of migrants and refugees a year, dwarfing the local population. The relationship between these migrants, the holding facility, and the local inhabitants of Lampedusa, is very tense. On top of this, a changing climate, and its effects on water and food security in vulnerable states in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Lampedusa itself, may exacerbate an already tense situation. Extended droughts, increased freshwater scarcity, changes in fisheries and other stresses, will put additional strains on populations in both the places of departure, and the destination. (more…)