Sunday, July 29, 2007

Climate Change and Migration

An excellent post that brings together two of my research interests from Grist.

This post contains some good links that I need to read (this post is for my own future reference as much as anything else - sorry).

FWIW I agree with the "caution" that Geoff Dabelko is warning us of.

A word of caution on climate change and 'refugees'
Scholars, policy analysts, and even military officers are breaking down climate change's impacts into what they hope are more manageable topics for examination. The migration that climate change could cause is one such topic. For instance, the Center for American Progress recently posted a piece entitled "Climate Refugees: Global Warming will Spur Migration." The International Peace Academy analyzed "Climate Change and Conflict: The Migration Link" (PDF) in a May 2007 Coping With Crisis working paper. Climate change-induced migration also figured prominently in the security perspective offered by the CNA Corporation's Military Advisory Board in its report, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change."

In many respects, these pieces are careful in their discussion of the topic. But allow me a few words of caution on climate change and migration, based on what we learned from a series of programs on the topic in the late 1990s here at the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

After discussing the difficulties with using "refugees" as a term to discuss climate change induced migration this interesting article concludes:
The most nuanced conflict work now being done focuses on how environmental scarcity or abundance can exacerbate more proximate causes of conflict such as ethnic difference or relative deprivation. Likewise, the key to getting climate on the table as a principal driver of migration is to carefully trace how it interacts with the many other factors that cause people to move.

Climate and migration links may prove to be effective arguments in the larger political discussions of climate change mitigation. That is clearly the way the Center for American Progress is deploying them. Raising migration (and its potentially negative impacts on security, which the CNA report highlights) as an additional cost of inaction may be effective in some political settings. But to maintain a focus on improving the lives of people on the ground, it is crucial to translate this larger theoretical and political argument into a variety of specific interventions. Then, when donors, NGOs, and host governments become convinced of the challenges presented by climate and security linkages, there will be a full menu of responses to offer and implement.

1 comment:

meninweb said...

When the last tree is cut ...
The last river poisoned ...
And the last fish dead ...
We will discover ...
That we cant eat money.