Climate Forced Migration: Pathways Of Future Conflict


Major contemporary human migration routes.
Image credit:NPR/Economist, via PAP Blog

Here's the latest climate impact prognostication to turn my head. 'Climate refugees can't afford to move very far so we have to just accommodate that reality.' That's from a spokesperson for the International Institute for Environment & Development, as quoted in a report titled: Radical shift needed to end alarmism over climate-related migration. Also, according to the spokesperson, "There is growing concern that climate change will force hundreds of millions of people to migrate, but many policymakers see this purely as a problem when in fact it can be a key part of the solution..." Taking it to the next level, when a hurricane devastates a coastal city we can just dedicate the resulting mud-pot as a nature preserve. Change your thinking around, and all is good.

OK, that was hyperbole and probably unfair. But, there's a serious problem with the short-migration-is-good idea. The land moved-to as a result of a changing climate, whether distant or near, belongs to someone else, or is likely to be a park or nature reserve (soon to be no more). Plus, the short-stepping migrants, or their unwilling hosts, are likely to face some worsening economic difficulties. No spin is going to make it look good at the scale of millions.

Woody Guthrie had it figured pretty well when, reflecting the large scale, and fairly localized, Dust Bowl-era forced migrations of the 1930's, he wrote the song Do Re Mi:

Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin' home every day,
Beatin' the hot old dusty way to the California line.
'Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin' out of that old dust bowl,
They think they're goin' to a sugar bowl, but here's what they find
Now, the police at the port of entry say,
"You're number fourteen thousand for today." ...

More on migration.
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