Climate Change and Migration:

Myths and Realities

Caroline Zickgraf

Awareness has grown of the intimate link between climate change and migration in past years but it remains a complex and contentious issue. In a debate fanned by the media and populist politicians, University of Liège researcher Caroline Zickgraf separates myth from reality. Explaining how our changing environment is making people move, she calls for evidence-based preparation rather than fear-based reactions and crisis responses. As climate change escalates, such understanding is a first step on the way to a much-needed political response.

The global impacts of climate change threaten to reshape the world in a dramatic fashion. From sea level rise, coastal erosion, land degradation,droughts, floods, and temperature increase to intensifying and more frequent storms, any number of detrimental impacts caused by a rapidly warming planet fundamentally changes how and where we live. Sudden-onset events and slow-onset processes combine to damage and destroy homes and assets, decrease crop productivity and biodiversity, forcing people from their lands and livelihoods. While some people are forced to flee in a rapid fashion, others move preemptively or in response to the gradual changes that make living – and earning – in situ ever more difficult, forming a complex spectrum of human mobility related to climate change.

This article intentionally takes a rather wide view of this spectrum, in order to tackle some of the most common questions about how migration and climate change collide – and what should be done about it.

For a full review of this essay, click here or on the picture to download the pdf file.


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