Hi internet friends! Today I thought I could summarize the current understanding of an emerging topic in the climate advocacy sphere: the concept of climate refugees and climate migration. These terms and concepts are rather new and not yet official, and we are going to discuss what they mean, and why they may be important to pay attention to moving forward.
Before I dive into the post, I just wanted to acknowledge I’ve been taking a bit of a breather with blogging/content creation and social media in general. I haven’t stopped blogging completely or taken a real break, but I’ve slowed down the posting schedule and have basically not used most social media platforms in weeks/months. I can’t explain exactly why, but lately I’ve just been deeply craving more and more time offline, and more and more privacy.
And after spending years working in media and having a blog in addition to being a full time student/researcher, I think I may just need a true break. My computer has also been in repair for several weeks, which makes it even harder to post. So, if you don’t see any posts from me in the next 3-4 weeks, I’m probably just taking a full break to restore myself and wrap up some other personal projects that require my time and attention. Thanks for standing by!
But for now, please enjoy this post on climate migration. Leave questions and comments below, or feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I love hearing from you!
Oh, and PS – I will be doing a couple Zoom info sessions about climate change and health as part of my climate reality leadership corps action! Stay tuned for details…I will likely announce via Instagram!
First of all, what is a migrant?
The UN Migration Agency defines a migrant as any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a State away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of 1) the person’s legal status 2) whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; 3) what the causes for the movement are or 4) what the length of stay is.
Basically, migration is the movement of peoples from their home territory to another place. People may migrate for a variety of reasons: political turmoil, climate change, natural disasters, and other factors may cause humans to seek other grounds to habitat.
How does climate change impact migration?
First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that environmental events and disasters have always been drivers of migration. They can directly impact migration by altering ecosystems and hazard exposures, and indirectly via environmentally-dependent economic drivers.
But what role does climate change play? Importantly, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events that often play a role in migration. For example, climate change can lead to loss of living resources, including water, energy and food supply or reemployment.
When individuals do not have access to clean water, ample food or energy, they are more likely to migrate. Climate change may also lead to loss of social and cultural resources, including loss of cultural properties, neighborhoods, and community networks, which may drive some to seek new habitat.
Climate change can also cause sea level rise, and increases in extreme weather events, like storm surges and floods, which can make certain locations uninhabitable. For example, a rise in sea level can lead to an increased risk of coastal flooding, erosion, and salinisation of low-lying agricultural land. Changes in tropical storms and cyclone frequency and intensity can also increase risks of coastal flooding and damage.
Additionally, as alluded to above, climate change can play a major role in agricultural success. Extreme weather events, changes in growing season, floods, droughts, and increased population and elongated seasons of certain pests may cause crop failure. Atmospheric chemistry changes may impact crop productivity, as well. If a community relies on these agricultural entities as their primary food supply, they may be forced to migrate if climate change jeopardizes their agricultural yields.
Even if climate change does not completely deprive a community of resources like food and water, their scarcity may cause conflict or drive some of the population to search for more abundant environments.…