By 2050, climate change will cause mass migrations from rising seas, floods, and drought, says a new report authored by researchers at Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), the United Nations University and CARE International. The report was released today at the international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.The report's major findings include:
-A breakdown of ecosystem-based economies including subsistence herding, farming and fishing will be the dominant driver of forced migration.
-Climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of natural hazards such as cyclones, floods and droughts. Rains in parts of Mexico and Central America, for instance, are projected to drop as much as 50% by 2080. Farmers in parts of Mexico and north Africa’s Sahel region may already be moving in part due to changing rains.
-Sea level rise directly threatens the existence of some 40 countries. Saltwater intrusion, flooding and erosion could destroy agriculture in the densely populated Mekong, Nile and Ganges deltas. A rise of two meters, or six feet--well within some projections for this century-- would inundate nearly half the Mekong’s 3 million hectares (7.5 million acres) of farmland. Some Pacific island nations including the Maldives (pop. 300,000) are already considering prospects for total relocation.
-Ongoing melting of alpine glaciers in the Himalayas will devastate the heavily irrigated farmlands of Asia by increasing floods and decreasing long-term water supplies. The glacier-fed basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irawaddy, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers now support over 1.4 billion people.
-Most migrants will probably move within their own countries, or to countries next door. Many will be poor, and many will be unable to move far enough to improve their lots. Ripples from resulting conflicts and collapses will hit richer countries.
Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs said last week that he anticipates that both nuclear energy and carbon capture and sequestration must be part of the energy mix if we are to mitigate the effects of climate climate. Sachs says that China is on course to continue its expansion of coal use and therefor CCS is a must if those coal plants are to operate without further damaging the climate.