In the midst of a global pandemic and increasingly desperate attempts by the Trump administration to subvert the results of the 2020 election, it would be easy to miss a slew of recent news stories on individuals the media has termed "climate refugees."
These are people who have been displaced due to catastrophic climate change, or who will be forced to flee as their homes become too hot, too cold, or too dry, or if they become regular targets of massive storms or end up underwater. As many of these stories have highlighted, among those most at risk are the Indigenous peoples of the United States.
The scale of climate-induced displacement boggles the mind. According to many reports — including one by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees — well over 100 million people will be forced to flee their homes as a result of climate change by the year 2050. Indigenous peoples all over the world — including the Yanomami in the Amazon, the Inuit in the Arctic, and the Saami in Scandinavia — are on the front lines of climate displacement.
Here at home, climate change could render uninhabitable hundreds of Native American communities in Alaska, Florida, Hawai'i, Louisiana, South …
Last week, more than 100 advocates, academics, and reporters joined the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) for a webinar with three leading experts on climate migration and resilience. Presenters discussed the biggest challenges that communities and workers are facing due to the climate crisis.
As the climate crisis brings about more frequent and intense weather events, from wildfires to disastrous flooding, some families have been forced to flee to new communities. Maxine Burkett, Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii and a CPR Member Scholar, explained that while decisions to migrate are often multifaceted, families affected by extreme weather events are now considering climate change and environmental disaster in decisions about whether to leave their homes and communities.
Burkett added that slow-onset disasters, such as sea-level rise, and planned relocation are among several climate-related triggering scenarios that scholars focused on migration and displacement are studying. According …
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 …