Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration

Darnell Taylor
March 21, 2018

The Bank's researchers say their report is the first and most comprehensive study of its kind to focus on the link between slow-onset climate change impacts, internal migration patterns, and development in three developing regions.

The climate change scenarios identified four regions where man-made climate change would be the dominate cause of heat extremes, surpassing natural climate variability.

Humanity has always been on the move.

While conflict and economic reasons are often the biggest factors for people moving within countries, climate change will soon have its own part to play.

Human-caused climate change will drive more extreme summer heat waves in the western U.S., including in California and the Southwest as early as 2020, new research shows.

The study said that climate migration hotspots (out-migration and in-migration hotspots) will begin to emerge by 2030 due to climate change, and it will deteriorate through 2050 if necessary measures are not taken.

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The report estimates that 86 million could be displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 million in South Asia and 17 million in Latin America - accounting for 55 percent of the developing world.

"Climate refugees" or "environmental migrants" are those people who are forced to leave their homes due to diminished agricultural production, water scarcity, rising sea levels, or increased temperatures. It went on to say that a possible humanitarian crisis could be averted through a concerted effort like cut in greenhouse gases, integrate climate migration in development planning, and investment to improve understanding of internal climate migration.

In another perspective on climate migration, other analysts argue that it can be a valid way of adapting to a warmer future.

The new analysis of heat wave patterns across the USA, led by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM) based Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) and colleagues, also found that man-made climate change will be a dominant driver for heat wave occurrences in the Great Lakes region by 2030, and in the Northern and Southern Plains by 2050 and 2070, respectively.

The most urbanised country of the three, Mexico, is predicted to have people moving from low-lying, flood-threatened areas on the southern coast, as well as from the arid north, to the country's central plateau, where Mexico City and other urban areas lie.

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