Climate Change and Human Migration

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McMichael, C. (2020). Human mobility, climate change, and health: Unpacking the connections. The Lancet.Planetary Health, 4(6), e217-e218. [Cited by]

Background:

Hundreds of millions of climate migrants likely by 2050

Lustgarten, Abrahm (2020, July 23). The Great Climate Migration. New York Times Magazine. [Cited by]

Migration due to climate change is already happening in the United States

The research:

*Koubi, V., Böhmelt, T., Spilker, G., & Schaffer, L. (2018). The determinants of environmental migrants’ conflict perception.International Organization, 72(4), 905-936. [PDF] [Cited by]

Migration is likely to be a key factor linking climate change and conflict. However, our understanding of the factors behind and consequences of migration is surprisingly limited. We take this shortcoming as a motivation for our research and study the relationship between environmental migration and conflict at the micro level. In particular, we focus on environmental migrants’ conflict perceptions. We contend that variation in migrants’ conflict perception can be explained by the type of environmental event people experienced in their former home, whether gradual, and long-term or sudden-onset, short-term environmental changes. We develop this argument before quantitatively analyzing newly collected micro-level data on intra-state migration from five developing countries. The results emphasize that migrants who experienced gradual, long-term environmental events in their former homes are more likely to perceive conflict in their new location than those having experienced sudden, short-term environmental events. These findings are in line with our theoretical argument that environmental migrants who suffer from environmentally induced grievances are ultimately more likely to perceive conflict and challenges in their new locations.”

*Marchiori, L., & Schumacher, I. (2011). When nature rebels: International migration, climate change, and inequality.Journal of Population Economics, 24(2), 569-600. [PDF] [Cited by]

“We study climate change and international migration in a two-country overlapping generations model with endogenous climate change. Our main findings are that climate change increases migration; small impacts of climate change have significant impacts on the number of migrants; a laxer immigration policy increases long-run migration, aggravates climate change, and increases north–south inequality if climate change impacts are not too small; and a greener technology reduces emissions, long-run migration, and inequality if the migrants’ impact to overall climate change is large. The preference over the policies depends on whether the policy maker targets inequality, wealth, the environment, or the number of migrants.”

*Marchiori, L., Maystadt, J., & Schumacher, I. (2012). The impact of weather anomalies on migration in sub-Saharan Africa.Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 63(3), 355-374. [PDF] [Cited by]

“This paper analyzes the effects of weather anomalies on migration in sub-Saharan Africa. We present a theoretical model that demonstrates how weather anomalies induce rural–urban migration that subsequently triggers international migration. We distinguish two transmission channels, an amenity channel and an economic geography channel. Based on annual, cross-country panel data for sub-Saharan Africa, we present an empirical model that suggests that weather anomalies increased internal and international migration through both channels. We estimate that temperature and rainfall anomalies caused a total net displacement of 5 million people during the period 1960–2000, i.e. a minimum of 128,000 people every year. Based on medium UN population and IPCC climate change projections, we expect future weather anomalies to lead to an additional annual displacement of 11.8 million people by the end of the 21st century.”

*Piguet, E., Kaenzig, R., & Guélat, J. (2018). The uneven geography of research on “environmental migration”.Population and Environment, 39(4), 357-383. [PDF] [Cited by]

Climate change and environmental hazards affect the entire world, but their interactions with—and consequences on—human migration are unevenly distributed geographically. Research on climate and migration have their own geographies which do not necessarily coincide. This paper critically confronts these two geographies by presenting the first detailed mapping of research in the field of environmentally induced migration. After a brief review of the geography of research on climate change, the paper presents an overview of nearly 50 years of case studies on the basis of CliMig, a bibliographic database of 1193 scientific papers and books on climate/environmental change and migration, among them 463 empirical case studies. We analyze the locations of these case studies, the academic affiliations of their researchers, and the origin of their funding. Mapping the locations of case studies worldwide points toward blind spots in the research and identifies “overstudied” areas. We describe the methodologies used in the studies and present a typology of environmental hazards. Our results show that research on environmental migration is mainly done in countries of the Global South, whereas climate science research in general is focused on countries of the Global North. We contend that the peculiar geography of environmental migration cannot be explained solely by the uneven vulnerability of southern populations to the environment. It must also be understood through the lens of post-colonial and securitization studies as the result of a framing of “environmental refugees” (and refugees in general) as an intrinsically “southern problem” and as a security risk for the North. This paper is an original contribution to the literature on the North-South divide in scientific research and will help to outline future directions of investigation.”

*Shultz, J. M., Rechkemmer, A., Rai, A., & McManus, K. T. (2019). Public health and mental health implications of environmentally induced forced migration.Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 13(2), 116-122. [Cited by]

*Climate change is increasingly forcing population displacement, better described by the phrase environmentally induced forced migration. Rising global temperatures, rising sea levels, increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, and progressive depletion of life-sustaining resources are among the drivers that stimulate population mobility. Projections forecast that current trends will rapidly accelerate. This will lead to an estimated 200 million climate migrants by the year 2050 and create dangerous tipping points for public health and security.

Among the public health consequences of climate change, environmentally induced forced migration is one of the harshest and most harmful outcomes, always involving a multiplicity of profound resource and social losses and frequently exposing migrants to trauma and violence. Therefore, one particular aspect of forced migration, the effects of population displacement on mental health and psychosocial functioning, deserves dedicated focus. Multiple case examples are provided to elucidate this theme.”

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