Today, Friday, September 20, people of all ages are taking to the streets to demand immediate action on climate change from our leaders. Climate change will cause the forced migration of many millions of people over the course of this century, and the bulk of those displaced will have played little role in the emissions responsible for this crisis. Forced climate migration may arise from two broad types of impacts. Extreme weather events, including floods, typhoons, hurricanes and other weather phenomena will lead to immediate losses of homes and livelihoods. Long-term climate processes, on the other hand, include sea level rise, chronic drought, extreme heat exposure, and food insecurity and may render large areas practically uninhabitable. In the most dramatic cases, entire nations may be literally wiped off the map by sea level rise, a reality forcefully communicated by the Alliance of Small Island States during the drafting of the Paris Agreement that spurred inclusion of language seeking to limit global warming to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels.
The window for achieving that ambitious target is rapidly closing. Our current trajectory would result in 3-4 C of warming by 2100, a level of warming that would make large regions of earth uninhabitable by human beings. Amidst all of this, xenophobic rhetoric and anti-refugee policy shifts among many of the nations with the greatest culpability in the climate crisis is the height of cruelty and inhumanity.
Here at KIAC, we work with many families who fled their home countries due to conditions beyond their control, and we know that climate change will continue to exacerbate this. We must call our leaders to account in order to reduce the disproportionate and devastating effects on vulnerable countries. We must also recognize our role as a nation and explore ways to welcome those whom we have contributed to displacing. Please stand with KIAC and with millions of people around the world today and demand policy change at the highest levels of our governments.
**For more information or to see the source of most of this information, see:
Brown, Oli. (2008) Migration and Climate Change. International Organization for Migration Research Series, No. 31. IOM, Geneva, Switzerland.