Climate change and international migration both are global issues with aspects that countries try to manage through treaties, pacts, and other types of agreements. But most of the global governance frameworks that exist for climate-induced migration require only voluntary commitments by states.
Among the earliest examples of the disruptions that climate change can bring, some low-lying island countries in the Pacific Ocean are facing serious threats from rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Over the long term, atoll nations such as Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands might eventually need to relocate some or all of their populations. But not everyone wants to migrate, and governments have balanced supporting people who relocate with other ways of adapting to changing conditions.
Climate change is already affecting how, whether, and where people migrate. But environmental change is likely to become more extreme, unless the world takes serious action now. How might changes made now impact what future migration looks like? This Changing Climate, Changing Migration episode features a conversation with Robert McLeman, a geographer and environmental studies expert at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University, about the possible scenarios that lie ahead for the relationship between climate change and migration, depending on how countries act in the next few decades.
Reliable access to food—or lack thereof—can affect an individual’s decision to migrate. Climate change has the ability to exacerbate food insecurity, especially for farmers and others who live off the land, which can have repercussions for human mobility. In this episode of our Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast, we talk with Megan Carney, an anthropologist and director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Regional Food Studies, to examine the role of food security in the connection between climate change and migration.
Billions of dollars are being spent on projects to help communities mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, including those at risk of being displaced by environmental events. This episode of our Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast features Timo Schmidt, from MPI Europe, in a discussion about the growing field of climate finance and its implications for migration management and displacement prevention.
Pre-COVID-19, we lived in a hyper-global world. There were 1.5 billion international tourism trips annually, nearly 40 million flights, and 272 million international migrants. This raises a provocative question: Does international mobility contribute to the spread of pandemics? In this episode of Moving Beyond Pandemic, we speak with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn of the Center for Global Development. Drawing on their research of global pandemics dating to 1889, they make the case that limits on cross-border mobility delay the arrival of pathogens by days at best.
Confronting environmental change, whole communities sometimes relocate from one area to another. This purposeful, coordinated movement, while currently rare, is referred to as managed retreat. In this episode of our Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast, Architesh Panda, from the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, explains how this climate adaptation strategy works in India.
With news that viable COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, what might 2021 hold in store for the global movement of people, whether for tourism, business travel, or more enduring forms of migration? Alan Gamlen, associate professor of human geography at Monash University in Australia, tackles some of the big questions in this Moving Beyond Pandemic episode, including whether cities will be reshaped by immobility. He paints a picture of a world with lower levels of mobility for the next few years, punctuated by periodic spikes.
There are a lot of predictions about how many people will migrate in response to climate change. Depending on where you look, the next few decades could see hundreds of millions—or even more than 1 billion—people pick up and move. On this episode of our Changing Climate, Changing Migration podcast, we asked Julia Blocher, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, to explain why the predictions vary so much. We also discussed how this movement can lead to conflict.
The relationship between climate change and migration is long and complex. Human civilizations have been affected by environmental conditions for centuries, but we should be wary of arguments that huge numbers of people are inevitably destined to migrate in response to specific climate threats. In this episode of Changing Climate, Changing Migration, we chat with Alex de Sherbinin of Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network about what the research shows—and does not show.