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The Refugee Map of Europe
Malta and Hungary are refugee giants, Spain and Poland are refugee dwarves.
Facts are like people. There are so many of them that you'll always find a few to agree with you. Take Europe's current refugee crisis: Rather than swaying hearts and minds, the emergency seems merely to have hardened and confirmed previous prejudices and opinions, of whichever stripe.
Reactions to the crisis range from the openly hostile to the warmly hospitable. Both extremes can be fed from the same set of facts. For instance, the current distribution of Syrian refugees.
Syria's neighbours are bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis, and have done so for a lot longer than the current crisis. Turkey alone hosts around 2 million Syrians. That's half of the total number of Syrians who fled their country; almost 1 in 10 of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million; and more than any other country.
Lebanon is the temporary home of 1.2 million Syrian refugees, a remarkable feat considering its own citizenry numbers no more than 4.5 million. This means that Syrians now constitute almost a fifth of Lebanon's population. The number of Syrians in Jordan, a country of 8 million, officially stands at 630,000, but in reality may be much higher. There are even a quarter of a million Syrian refugees in Iraq. How bad must things be before you tell your family: “Okay, enough with all the violence. Pack your bags; we're moving to Baghdad.”?
Shouldn't European countries, therefore, be more generous towards Syrians requesting asylum? A counterargument from the same dataset: What are other Arab countries doing for Syria? As confirmed by Amnesty International, the number of resettlement places offered to Syrian refugees by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain is zero. How about they step up?
But the reality is that people are casting off their rickety boats in the direction of Europe, not Arabia. And not just to Europe in general, but to a few countries specifically.
The situation at the moment is very fluid. Perhaps the best idea to get a clear picture of it is to take a step back. The maps below reflect the situation on the Old Continent in the first quarter of this year, i.e., before the present influx. Produced by Dutch public broadcaster NOS, they show where the 185,000 asylum requests were filed.
These maps are cartograms — ordinary maps distorted to reflect one statistical dataset, in this case: the number of refugees per million inhabitants. In other words, they reflect the relative impact of the refugee crisis on the countries of Europe.
For the sake of calibration, first a normal map of Europe (to be precise: the western half of Europe), with the population sizes per country. Then, that same map reflecting the relative size of the refugee population. Germany keeps its size because it is the benchmark: It not only has the largest population (81 million), but also has the largest number of asylum requests per 1 million inhabitants (905). That works out to 73,305 asylum requests, or about 40 percent of the total quoted above.
Some other remarkably popular destinations — relative to the countries' own population — are Malta (811 asylum requests per million inhabitants), Switzerland (507), and Luxemburg (482), all swelling up to several times their geographic size. Remarkably unpopular: Portugal (17) and Spain (44), which have become almost invisible on the second map.
A second set of maps shows Germany again, this time with countries in Eastern Europe, first with their actual geographies and absolute population figures, then proportioned for the number of asylum requests. With 3,322 requests per million inhabitants, Hungary, where many migrants enter the Schengen Area, is Europe's asylum superpower. Austria is also very popular, with 1,141 requests per million inhabitants — in part because in Austria asylum requests are processed quickly, the NOS reports. The other countries on the map are almost squeezed off it: Slovakia (nine asylum requests per million inhabitants), Croatia (nine), but even Slovenia (22), the Czech Republic (34), and Poland (38) are all but invisible.
What do these maps tell us? That small frontline countries like Malta and Hungary are under incredible strain? That refugees generally prefer to not request asylum in the poorer countries of the E.U.? That all in all, the hospitality of the west is still dwarfed by that of Syria's immediate neighbours? That the current crisis is not one of refugees, but of hospitality — or the lack thereof?
Whatever your opinions, you're sure to find something here to support them.
An overview map of "refugee Europe."
Strange Maps #737
Got a strange map? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.
One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.