Europe faces even deeper political turmoil and the possibility of mass migration from Africa unless the world urgently addresses the threat of climate change, the former US secretary of state John Kerry said on Thursday.
Speaking at a Guardian Live event, at Central Hall in London, he said he was deeply disturbed at how issues such as climate change, cyber wars and the future of the oceans were not ballot box issues, admitting it was hard to translate these issues into an acceptable set of choices for voters.
In the discussion with the Observer’s chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, Kerry said: “We are heading for catastrophe unless we respond to some life-threatening challenges very rapidly. We have a climate-denying president that pulls us out of the the Paris climate change agreement at a time when literally every day matters.
“Europe is already crushed under this transformation that is taking place due to migration. In Germany Angela Merkel is weakened. Italian politics is significantly impacted.
“Well, imagine what happens if water dries up and you cannot produce food in northern Africa. Imagine what happens if Nigeria hits its alleged 500 million people by the middle of the century … you are going to have hordes of people in the northern part of the Mediterranean knocking on the door. I am telling you. If you don’t believe me, just go read the literature.”
The former secretary of state for the Obama administration reminded his audience that climate change scientists had just warned that historically unprecedented steps were needed to prevent an extra 0.5C (32.9F) degrees increase.
Kerry said Harvey dropped as much water on the Houston, Texas, area in five days as goes over Niagara Falls in an entire year. Irma, he said, had the first recorded, sustained winds of over 185 mph for 24 hours.