Monday, April 18, 2011

UN embarrassed by forecast on climate refugees

Axel Bojanowski in Der Spiegel (Germany) about a mistaken story that this blog helped spread: Six years ago, the United Nations issued a dramatic warning that the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees by 2010. But now that those migration flows have failed to materialize, the UN has distanced itself from the forecasts. On the contrary, populations are growing in the regions that had been identified as environmental danger zones.

It was a dramatic prediction that was widely picked up by the world's media. In 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations University declared that 50 million people could become environmental refugees by 2010, fleeing the effects of climate change. But now the UN is distancing itself from the forecast: "It is not a UNEP prediction," a UNEP spokesman told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The forecast has since been removed from UNEP's website.

Official statistics show that the population in areas threatened by global warming is actually rising. The expected environmental disasters have yet to materialize. In October 2005, UNU said: "Amid predictions that by 2010 the world will need to cope with as many as 50 million people escaping the effects of creeping environmental deterioration, United Nations University experts say the international community urgently needs to define, recognize and extend support to this new category of 'refugee.'"

It added that "such problems as sea level rise, expanding deserts and catastrophic weather-induced flooding have already contributed to large permanent migrations and could eventually displace hundreds of millions."

…But Myers' forecasts are controversial in scientific circles. Stephen Castles of the International Migration Institute at Oxford University contradicted the horror scenarios in an interview with SPIEGEL in 2007. Myers and other scientists were simply looking at climate change forecasts and counting the number of people living in areas at risk of flooding, said Castles, author of the "The Age of Migration." That made them arrive at huge refugee numbers.

Castles said people usually don't respond to environmental disasters, war or poverty by emigrating abroad. That appears to be confirmed by the behavior of victims of last month's devastating earthquake and tusnami in Japan. Many survivors are returning to rebuild their ruined towns and villages….

The Mexican side at the Tijuana-San Diego border. The crosses represent the deaths of failed attempts. Shot by Tomas Castelazo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

1 comment:

prasad said...

The world now facing so many threats from this nature nature gave us so many things like food, air and so much now we are the responsible for all these disasters and upcoming disasters.