Friday, September 19, 2008

A billion climate refugees by 2050?

Engineering News (South Africa): If urgent action is not taken on climate change, the world may pay the price in human terms. A veritable human tide of climate refugees could exacerbate existing forced migration. Christian Aid reckons that at least one-billion people will be forced from their homes between now and 2050, as the effects of climate change deepen an already burgeoning global migration crisis.

Staggering numbers of people are already forced to flee their homes because of war, disasters and large-scale development projects. In future, climate change will push the numbers even higher, by exacerbating current drivers of migration and creating new drivers.

…The vast majority of those forced to migrate will be from the world’s poorest countries. For them, climate will act as an additional stressor on livelihoods already on the margin. The estimate of one-billion people over the next 40-odd years includes:

• 50 million people displaced by conflict and extreme human rights abuses – this assumes a rate of displacement of roughly one-million people a year, which is conservative;

• 50 million people displaced by natural disasters – again, this is based on a conservative assumption that about one-million people will be displaced by natural disasters each year;

• 645 million people displaced by development projects, such as dams, roads, mines, factories and tourist projects – this assumes that the current ‘development displacement’ rate of 15 million a year will continue;

• 250 million people displaced by climate-change-related phe-nomena, such as floods, droughts, hurricanes and sea-level rise; and

• five-million people fleeing their own countries and being accepted as refugees.

Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Palestine - 1948), Wikimedia Commons

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