When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Green Or Gone

Climate Migration, A Very Different Global Crisis Is Coming

While the pandemic has restricted people's movement, climate change will increasingly do the opposite as populations move from the worst to less affected zones.

A Venezuelan family in a makeshift migrant camp in Bogota, Colombia
A Venezuelan family in a makeshift migrant camp in Bogota, Colombia
Brigitte LG Baptiste

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Scientists warn that climate change could trigger a veritable collapse of our civilization in this or the next century. The worst-case scenario currently being put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has temperatures rising 4 degrees Celsius, and sea levels rising 1 meter by 2100.

Having this information puts us in a complex situation. Paralyzed by the gravity and imminence of what may come, mostly we prefer to avoid the subject. We shouldn't though, because even though the probability of that worst scenario is relatively low — 17%, for now at least — conditions are deteriorating, and with repercussions that will be felt by all.

One thing worth considering are the lessons we've presumably learned as we slowly emerge from another kind of global crisis: the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooperation and competition, in differing doses, are the forces that mold adaptive responses to environmental tensions. We are entering a phase where the former will matter more, as there can be no quarantine against climate chaos, nor hideaways allowing protective isolation for some.

People's main response to heat waves and natural disasters will be to migrate, be it on temporary or permanent bases, with the UN's International Organization for Migration expecting between 200 million and 1 billion climate migrants by 2050. Such figures, it states, will be the fruit of our very successful collective effort to ignore the scale of the climate problem.

The nomadic world that is heading our way as a result of ecosystem collapse will involve crises resulting from the material and symbolic tensions caused by large populations moving from the worst to less affected zones. There may well be a hardening of borders, either in legal terms or invisibly.

Millennials are already showing interesting forms of territorial disconnection, which shows how one can learn from a nomadic world through its circumstances. That may be a key to designing a more welcoming civilization in the full sense of the world: Nobody knows where they will end up or when they may have to move.

Providing sanctuary and protection to the refugee will implicate all territories.

In these conditions, the notion of providing sanctuary and protection to the refugee will implicate all territories. Paradoxically, those who attain better levels of attention will be overwhelmed by the needs of those who have not, which will gravely affect their own capacities.

Today, a place like Puerto Carreño on the Colombia-Venezuela border is surrounded by recently formed shantytowns in threatened natural zones (like the Cerro de la Bandera or the mouth of the Bita river). This is the result of a mix of populism and manipulative usage of solidarity, which merely create future problems along with murky dependencies on gangs and human-traffickers.

Thinking of formal strategies to prevent climate migration from falling into the hands of illegal groups is a matter of urgency. We should rather turn migratory flows into a legitimate opportunity to make settlement, work, education and all forms of production more flexible. This is undoubtedly an immense socio-ecological challenge.

Clearly, insularity is of no use here: There is no room for nostalgia for the ancestral turf or a return to local lifestyles when the climate is forcing us all to make our actions global.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Gambit on the chess world

October 1-2

  • Fake news of a coup in China
  • Up close with Russian deserters
  • Sheep taking over London Bridge
  • … and much more.
Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ