Thongchai Thailand

Climate Change Refugees

Posted on: October 29, 2018





The world’s first climate refugees, The Age, July 29, 2009

  1. South Pacific coral islands like Kiribati and Vanuatu consist mostly of atolls that are in turn by-products of volcanism. First volcanic islands emerge from the ocean floor. Then, corals grow all around the islands to form coral reefs. Finally, the islands begins to sink by subduction and eventually go completely under water, leaving only a ring of coral islands visible above water. These are atolls. Their existence implies that somewhere in the middle of tit all is a sinking volcanic island. The atoll itself remains above water as long as the rate of sinking does not exceed the rate of coral growth and begins to go under water otherwise. Many Island systems in the South Pacific consist of coral atolls.
  2. That some of these atolls are sinking and becoming inundated by seawater is a tragic but natural event having to do with geological forces beyond our control. These events are not caused by carbon dioxide and they cannot be modulated in any way by cutting CO2 emissions. In fact, these are not climate events.
  3. People who abandon sinking coral atolls for higher ground are therefore not “climate refugees” and their plight is unrelated to our consumption of fossil fuels. The continued attempt to link carbon dioxide with sinking atolls is inconsistent with what we know about coral atolls and with the observation that all atolls are not affected. Rising sea level does not inundate selectively.
  4. 1997, THE BBC MAKES THE CASE FOR THE KYOTO PROTOCOL:  Twenty years of hard data from meteorological stations and nature show a clear warming trend. Growth rings in Mongolian and Canadian trees are getting wider. Butterflies in California are moving to higher ground once too cold for butterflies. Stalactites in Britain are growing faster. The growing season for crops in Australia is getting longer. Permafrost in Siberia and Canada is melting. The evidence is there anywhere you look. A warming rate is one 1C per century is enough to wreak havoc. The cause is the greenhouse effect of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels as well as CFCs and HCFCs that trap heat. The effect is being compounded as deforestation simultaneously removes trees that absorb CO2. Some scientists are skeptical but the majority view is that the greenhouse effect is real and it requires urgent action. This conclusion rests on the results from sophisticated computer simulation models that give the best possible information on this topic even though they are not perfect. These models are giving us scary accounts of the future and we should be paying attention. The IPCC tell us that melting ice and thermal expansion of oceans will cause the sea level to rise one meter by 2037 and inundate low lying areas and island nations. Extreme weather events will become common. El Nino and La Nina cycles will become more extreme. There will be millions of climate refugees driven from their home by global warming. Some regions of the world will become hotter, others colder, some wetter, others drier. Entire weather systems will be dramatically altered. The Gulf Stream will switch off making Europe colder. Tropical diseases such as malaria will ravage the world as vectors migrate to higher latitudes and altitudes. Some wheat farmers may be able to grow more wheat but the net effect of global warming is overwhelmingly negative.
  5. 2001, GLOBAL WARMING NOW UNSTOPPABLE:  A 500-member IPCC led by Sir John Houghton issued the most authoritative report on global warming so far. It contains the following alarming findings: so much CO2 has already been injected into the air that global warming is “already unstoppable”; the world is warming at an accelerating rate; tens of millions of people around the world will be driven from their homes in the coming decades to become climate change refugees; governments must take urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; climate change is now so rapid that it is not possible for us to adapt to these changes; human ecosystems and biodiversity will all be affected and it will affect the world economy; the temperature rise in the next 100 years will be between 1.4C and 5.8C, significantly higher than previously thought; “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities; human influences will continue to change atmospheric composition throughout the 21st century; global warming will persist for many centuries by virtue of the CO2 we have already put into the air; change caused by humans is far greater than the changes due to nature; global warming is caused by carbon dioxide trapping heat.
  6. 2008: SEA LEVEL RISE INUNDATES ATOLL AND CREATES CLIMATE REFUGEES: Climate scientists say that man-made global warming has caused a rise in the sea level sufficient to inundate an atoll in Kiribati, a chain of 33 such islands, and created climate refugees. More info: 
  7. 2009: BANGLADESH HIT WITH CYCLONES AND CLIMATE REFUGEES: Bangladeshis displaced by Cyclone Sidr in 2007 are “climate refugees” because they have been rendered homeless by a climate change event that was caused by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and it suggests that cyclones like Sidr will continue to ravage this poverty stricken nation unless we forge a plan in Copenhagen and do away with fossil fuels. More info:
  8. 2009: SEA LEVEL RISE SINKING SOUTH PACIFIC ATOLLS: Our use of fossil fuels causes global warming. Global warming causes sea level rise. Sea level rise causes South Pacific atolls to become inundated. The inundation of these islands creates climate refugees. More info:
  9. 2018: CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS STAGGERING REFUGEE CRISIS: Today’s research confirms that massive migration into the millions—combined, as always, with a multitude of other effects—will be an inevitable consequence of global warming.
  10. 2018: A NEW U.N. CLIMATE REPORT SAYS THAT A GLOBAL CRISIS COULD OCCUR AS SOON AS 2040: Scientists concluded that the most disastrous effects of climate change could occur by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions occur at the current rate. These effects include coastlines wiped out by sea levels, widespread drought and poverty, and hordes of displaced climate refugees. It said that 50 million people in the United States, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam will be exposed to flooding.
  11. 2018: BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION TO HELP CLIMATE REFUGEES: There are 800 million people in developing countries who depend on subsistence farming to make a living, and many of the 143 million people who the World Bank estimates will become climate refugees by 2050 are subsistence farmers. That is how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which does not rank among the leaders in climate-related giving, is proceeding. It sat out of the $4 billion collective philanthropic pledge but it is making grants to help farmers with small plots of land in the poorest countries like Tanzania and Niger cope with “diseases, pests and drought from a changing climate.”
  12. 2018: CHANGING CLIMATE FORCES GUATEMALANS TO MIGRATE: Guatemala is consistently listed among the world’s 10 most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. Increasingly erratic climate patterns have produced year after year of failed harvests and dwindling work opportunities across the country, forcing more and more people like Méndez López to consider migration in a last-ditch effort to escape skyrocketing levels of food insecurity and poverty. During the past decade, an average of 24 million people each year were displaced by weather events around the world. Although it’s unclear how many of those displacements can be attributed to human-caused climate change, experts expect this number to continue to rise.
  13. 2018:  TYPHOON YUTU CLIMATE REFUGEES: The strongest storm recorded anywhere on the planet this year has caused “catastrophic” damage on the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the northern Pacific Ocean, northeast of Guam. Super Typhoon Yutu reached speeds of up to 255 km/h before it slammed into the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota on Thursday creating havoc and climate change refugees.
  14. 2018: CLIMATE REFUGEES IN THE USA: When Americans think of “climate refugees,” the source locales are likely to be low-lying island states, or desertification-prone regions of Africa, India and China; possibly portions of Bangladesh or Central America, where the monsoons are growing ominously larger. It’s time to look closer to home. A provocative package by The Guardian’s Oliver Milman makes that counterpoint  clear from the opening headline: “America’s era of climate mass migration is here.” Think of the rising sea encroaching on Miami Beach, of course, but also Virginia Beach. Think of the Alaskan communities small in size but large in number, sinking into softening permafrost or washing away with the coastline. Remember the thousands displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, many to the Houston area, where a dozen years later Hurricane Harvey repeated the process.
  15. 2018: GOVT MAY CHANGE IMMIGRATION LAWS TO TAKE CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEES: Jacinda Ardern has revealed to Newshub she isn’t ruling out New Zealand taking climate refugees. “We’re looking at creating an immigration plan that looks to the Pacific, and what options there might be within the existing arrangements.” Climate refugees are people displaced from their homes because of the impact of climate change. The existing refugee quota is being lifted from 1000 to 1500 in 2020, an increase announced recently after public in-fighting between the Government’s coalition partners.
  16. 2018: THE GLOBAL CLIMATE REFUGEE CRISIS HAS ALREADY BEGUN: When Hurricane Florence struck the shores of North and South Carolina and Virginia, more than a million evacuees fled their homes seeking shelter from the storm. For some, there will be no return home, as their homes are damaged beyond repair or beyond what they can afford to repair. All these displaced people are not simply evacuees fleeing a dangerous hurricane. They are climate refugees. There are a couple of reasons why climate change is creating a new category of refugee. First, climate change contributes to rising seas. As ocean water warms, it expands. That, along with simultaneous increased melting of the world’s mountain glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, contributes to rising sea levels. Sea level rise is already one factor producing climate refugees around the world.




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