The Biden administration on Wednesday released a report that predicts climate change will force “tens of millions” of people around the world to be displaced in the next few decades. The report echoes the findings of a number of previous studies that suggest worsening climate impacts — sudden disasters like fires and storms, plus more gradual problems like rising seas and drought — could displace as many as 200 million people before 2050.
Climate change affects the whole world, but the citizens of certain low-income countries everywhere from Central America to sub-Saharan Africa are especially vulnerable to climate-related displacement. Beyond the harm of millions of people being forced from their homes, climate migration could threaten the stability of resource-strained countries and increase the risk of conflict between nations, according to a separate national security assessment released this week.
While estimates paint a particularly dire picture of the future, some of the effects of climate displacement are already being felt around the world. The United Nations estimates that an average of 21.5 million people worldwide are displaced by sudden disasters every year. Droughts and storms in Central America are believed to be one of many reasons for an influx of migrants heading to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years. The Syrian civil war, which has created a devastating humanitarian crisis and displaced more than 13 million people over the past 10 years, has been partially attributed to a drought that forced rural farmers to flood into urban areas.
Why there’s debate
As worrying as some forecasts of the future are, a range of experts say that with the right preparation and investment, climate migration can be managed to limit suffering and prevent countries from falling into chaos.
A key step, most experts argue, is for rich countries like the U.S. to do everything within their power to prevent people from being forced to migrate in the first place. That starts with limiting greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Doing so would reduce the potential severity of storms, droughts and other factors that drive people from their homes. Rich countries also need to offer aid to poorer countries to adapt to climate change — for example, helping low-income countries build infrastructure to handle higher sea levels and stronger storm surges and dealing with major population shifts within their borders, since most climate migrants relocate to new areas of their home countries.
Source: Yahoo News