Climate refugees are people who are forced to relocated due to climate change. This may be specifically due to droughts, desertification, sea level rise and extreme weather. Some areas have already been identified as likely to produce climate refugees: the South Pacific islands (Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Maldives), Southern Africa and Arctic islands and villages.
And the issue of climate-related relocations could be significant. Professor Norman Myers of Oxford University has estimated climate change will increase the number of environmental refugees sixfold over the next fifty years to 150 million. The IPCC has also predicted 150 million climate refugees by 2050 if warming trends continue.
A new documentary film by Michael Nash, Climate Refugees, details the human face of climate change. On the website the poster for the film can be viewed. It has a special message: “To the residents of America….Within the next few years millions of people are going to have to leave their homes because changes in the world’s climate will destroy the basis for their livelihoods.”
It’s interesting to note that this message is directed to America. There may be a dual reason for this: perhaps assigning some of the blame of climate change and looking to the United States to prepare to house these anticipated climate refugees. But it’s not only the U.S. who should begin to consider this trend. States and nations worldwide need to begin to plan how they would deal with so many displaced people, lest climate refugees become a very destabilizing force worldwide.