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Problem to opportunity: migration in times of climate change

Source(s):  The Ecologist

By Arthur Wyns


Misunderstanding No.1: "Climate change is leading to an increase in natural disasters, and these disaster are the main cause of climate migration."


However, it's important to distinguish between the temporary displacement of communities and permanent migration. After a natural disaster like a hurricane or a flood has occurred, most of the people affected will eventually return home - in the course of weeks or months after the event - and will try to rebuild what has been destroyed.


Misunderstanding No.2: "Europe will be flooded by climate refugees."

No. At the moment Europe should not be expecting millions of 'climate refugees' seeking refuge within its borders, and even in the near future this not a realistic scenario.

Forecasts range from 25 million to one billion people displaced by climate and environmental changes worldwide by 2050 - and are highly controversial. They are based on a wide variety of climate scenarios and assumptions about the responses of the affected populations. Accurately predicting this complex play between climate and migration is not within science's capacity at the moment.


Misunderstanding No.3: "Those displaced by climate change are the most vulnerable population group."

Not all people in a certain region are equally at risk from the effects of climate change. Important here is not only how extreme events and climate change affect a region, but also who is affected by these changes, and whether those affected have the resources and skills to avert the damages and manage the consequences.


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  • Publication date 30 May 2018

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