In the coming decades, climate change will motivate or force millions of people to leave their homes in search of viable lifestyles and safety. As climate-induced sea level rise and natural disaster incidents increase, there will be millions of people who may be temporarily or permanently displaced. By 2050, when the human population is projected to peak, there will be approximately 9 billion people on Earth, further increasing the population density of major coastal cities.1
By this same time, most scientists estimate that there will be over 200 million climate refugees on earth,
Individuals from Bangladesh are migrating due to rising water levels. Image: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e4a5096.html
Migration can represent a response to changing environmental and economic conditions. The climate-induced environmental changes and the economic strains that will come with them will especially hurt people in the least developed countries, where the governments are underequipped to support widespread adaption.
Relationship of climate change to potential population movements. The question mark after “Conflict” refers to the much debated topic regarding whether the effects of climate change, such as changes in food yields or population movement, will increase violent conflict. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104375/
Migration, climate change, and the environment are all interrelated. Just as environmental degradation and disasters can cause migration, the movement of people can also have significant effects on the environment. For example, urban areas attract migrants seeking better lives. This high immigration contributes to crowding, environmental and sanitation issues in slums and other densely populated areas.
- Warner, Koko; Ehrhart, Charles; de Sherbinin, Alex; Adamo, Susana; Chai-Onn, Tricia. In Search of Shelter: Mapping the Effects of Climate Change on Human Migration and Displacement. CARE International, 2009. Print.
- Climate Central: www.climatecentral.org
- An Ill Wind? Climate Change, Migration, and Health: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104375/