Over the last 80 years the number of people around the world displaced from their homes due to war, persecution, and other forms of conflict has drastically increased. As Nick Turse reports in a November 16, 2020 article in The Nation, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA), at least 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes over the last decade. Researchers are now documenting the extent to which climate change is a major cause of people being permanently displaced from their homes. According to a 2020 report produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, one billion people currently live in countries that “do not have the current resilience to deal with the ecological changes they are expected to face in the future.” According to the Institute’s study, the global climate crisis may displace as many as 1.2 billion people by 2050, Nick Turse reported.
As Turse wrote, “a recent forecast suggests that, by the year 2050, the number of people driven from their homes by ecological catastrophes could be 900% greater than the 100 million forced to flee conflicts over the last decade.”
Prior to this year, there was some reporting in the corporate media on “climate refugees,” such as an article published in 2018 by Time which estimated that 143 million people would be displaced by climate change by 2050. On February 23, 2021, there was some corporate media coverage of a plan by the United Kingdom’s government to raise the issue at the UN Security Council, including a CNBC report and an article from the Washington Post. What distinguishes The Nation’s coverage from this corporate reporting is the angle being taken and the depth of information provided. What the Washington Post and CNBC reported on is what the government of the United Kingdom and what Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to say to the Security Council. They also focused on various other governments’ views on climate change, but provided little in the way of statistics or details about what the expert research on this issue has concluded. The Time article, while providing some figures, is fairly short and mostly states that migration will increase. Nick Turse’s article, by contrast, gives facts and data gathered by different researchers; it does not focus on what political leaders think.
Source: Nick Turse, “There Are More People Being Displaced Than Ever Before,” The Nation, November 16, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/world/global-warming-displacement/.
Student Researcher: Rebecca Garcia (North Central College)
Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)