Climate Refugees: What happens when human-influenced environmental change impacts the fundamental existence of an entire community?
Nature & Society: Climate Refugees • Define “climate refugees” and climate change • Examples of climate refugees • Incorporate key concepts of human geography • Discuss implications and solutions for those displaced by human-influenced environmental change
What is a climate refugee? • No universally agreed upon definition • Also known as “environmental refugees” or “environmental migrant” • An estimated 50 million people have been displaced in the last four years because of rising sea levels, desertification, dried up aquifers, weather-induced flooding and other serious environmental changes. (UN)
What is a climate refugee? • "People who are displaced from-or who feel obliged to leave-their usual place of residence, because their lives, livelihoods and welfare have been placed at serious risk as a result of adverse environmental, ecological or climatic processes and events." (UN) • Many are technically IDPs, but the media refers to them as refugees
What is climate change? • Environmental response to increased levels of green house gasses (GHG) in the atmosphere. • Most GHGs come from industrialization and development. • Earth is not just warming, but reconfiguring its whole climate.
Climate Change impacts • More frequent and severe weather patterns (including storms and drought) • Rising sea levels • Coastal erosion • Ground water salination
Relevant Concepts • Cultural ecology vs. political ecology • Impacts of land-use change on the environment • Industrialization and urbanization have a global impact.
Examples of climate refugees 350.org
Bangladesh Mohammad Rakibul Hasan
Small Island States Residents of Tuvalu, a Polynesian Island situated midway between Hawaii and Australia, struggle with rising sea level.
Carteret Islands The islands are so small that they’re barely visible on the map.
Nature & Society I=PAT (Impact on Resources = Population x Affluence x Technology) But who is using the resources? And who is feeling the impact? Alaskan barrier island struggling to combat sea level rise.
Key Concepts • Cultural ecology vs. political ecology– Which best relates to the plight of climate refugees? • Land-use change affects the environment, both locally and globally. • Industrialization and urbanization (land use changes) have a global impact.
Political Ecology and Climate Refugees • Carbon in the atmosphere is unseen, difficult to comprehend its role in environmental change • Climate and GHG mitigation policies influence the global environment (atmosphere, oceans) • Cap and Trade • Global policy impacts cultural ecology
Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana CHRIS GRANGER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE
Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana CHRIS GRANGER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Are the Boloxi-Choctaw Indians climate refugees?
Conclusions • Marginalized communities feel the effects of climate change first and most severely • Those who contribute the least to climate change are impacted most Climate refugees flees coastal Bangladesh to the inland slums. (Radio Netherlands)
Want to learn more? • www.350.org • www.islandsfirst.org • http://www.storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/ • Talk to me!