This post was co-authored by Kevin Morris, a J.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law. He serves as a research assistant for Maxine Burkett. This post was originally published by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat.
In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate augmentation" of disease. These are just two examples of the many public health effects we can expect as climate change forces people to uproot themselves.
In the future, extreme climate events — including more severe fast-acting coastal storms, rising seas, and more widespread droughts — will dislocate people and affect our public health infrastructure.
Migration can result in poor health outcomes when migrants find they have to face marginalization and discrimination, poverty, exposure to disease vectors, malnutrition, and crowding. Host communities may also …
This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report.
The 2017 hurricane season demonstrated the “second disaster” phenomenon. Climate-fueled storms are the first, named disaster. The second disaster is the tragedy that results from the lack of preparedness of decision-makers — at all levels — who have failed to plan in a manner consistent with the risks presented.
Perhaps few phenomena underscore that more than the post-disaster displacement and long-term relocation that climate change is increasingly inducing. While there is an infrastructure to manage post-disaster displacement and support displaced persons, its ability to effectively and equitably support individuals and communities has been lacking.
For planned, long-term relocation, the circumstances are more concerning. The United States has no coherent and coordinated regulatory approach to address the core questions facing communities that will need to relocate: Who is …
The idea that climate change is causing migration and displacement is entering the mainstream, but experts have warned against using the term "climate refugees" to describe what we're seeing in small islands, coastal regions, and even conflict zones like Syria.
Geoff Dabelko's 2007 post on climate change and migration was an early and important clarification of this emerging phenomenon. He noted that the term "refugee" is problematic because of limitations under international law. He also noted that migration is multi-causal. In fact, the numerous triggers that collide to spur an individual's decision to migrate make it difficult to peg his or her movement to climate change. That difficulty also means that deriving a number for climate migrants remains elusive. Almost 10 years later …