Climate Change and Mass Migration

by Ethan Lewis

An African Independent writer from the Washington Post investigated the large scale issue of mass human migration stemmed from climate change. The writer met with ANM Muniruzaman, a Bangladesh Politician, who recently attended an international migration policy meeting and said “The international system is in a state of denial.” He then continued to say “If we want an orderly management of the coming crisis, we need to sit down now.” Displacement of humans due to climate change is already ongoing with natural disasters like droughts, floods, and storms. Saying exactly how many people will have to migrate in the future is difficult, but statistics from previous years can help form an estimate. Roughly 203 million people were displaced between 2008 and 2015 due to natural disasters. Continue reading

Media Inaccurately Dramatizes Climate Refugees of Carteret Islands

by Kelly Watanabe

Media reports on the sinking Carteret Islands—Pacific atolls of Papa New Guinea—portrayed the islanders as the first direct victims of climate change; rising sea levels forced the population to migrate to Bougainville Island. John Connell (2016) puts the situation into a perspective unfiltered by the misleading media. Due to recent emphasis on climate change, the public media quickly blamed global temperature increase and rising sea levels for the lack of sustainability on the Carteret Islands (CI). Current media reports sourced their information from previous inaccurate media reports, not the actual story; the media ignored the inherent scientific evidence showing that other geographic factors were more influential. Dangerous tidal waves (tsunamis) are caused by natural recurring tectonic plate movement and violent El Niño wind patterns, not climate change. According to Connell, the brackish water and flooding created by the tides are a more pressing problem than the rising sea levels. Inadequate fresh water supply depletes crops and fish, making the land inhabitable. CI households began migrating long before evidence of climate change emerged. In reality, economic opportunity, not climate change, incentivized islanders to migrate. Continue reading

Adapting to Climate Change Through Migration

by Becky Strong

In 2006, Robert McLeman and Barry Smit from the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph wrote an article investigating migration as a possible adaptation to climate change, presenting conceptual models, and discussing the migration patterns of people from Eastern Oklahoma in the 1930s. Citing sociology, geography, and other social science sources. They examined theories of human migration behavior and analyzed concepts such as vulnerability, risk exposure, and adaptive capacity all theories developed within the climate change research community. While there is notable historical evidence linking human migration and climate change, it is not considered an automatic response and is influenced by many different factors. This notion can be traced back to Hippocrates and Aristotle who believed that humans determined the habitability of an area based on the characteristics of the natural environment and that they were shaped by these characteristics. Continue reading