In the news: climate-driven migration

The New York Times has a fantastic piece out today called “Heat, Hunger, and War Force Africans Onto a ‘Road of Fire” detailing the toll climate change is taking on Africa. Manifesting in dramatically increased heat and drought that make it impossible to feed their communities, creating a state of political unrest leading to wars and enabling harsh conditions enforced by fickle rulers, and mass exodus as people flee looking for work, safety, and food. It’s a must read.

McKinsey Global Institute released a study on climate migration this year that outlines some of the global economic benefits that can come from migration when immigrants are integrated into new societies well. While there has been a backlash of nationalistic fallout in countries around the world (Brexit, Trump, Le Pen), the case for globalization as an economic driver is clear.

But what of the human cost of migration as it is happening, and the toll it is taking as countries resist opening their borders to those in need? Much of Europe opened their arms to refugees in recent years, but it hasn’t all gone smoothly – the number of people needing shelter from the global unrest climate change contributes to far exceeded the number of new residents many countries were equipped to handle in the short term.

Migration may seem to those in North America like a challenge that is far away, but already we, too, are seeing the impact of climate change on our economy and our populace. Our winters are harder, our summers are dryer, and our economic mobility and life expectancy is shrinking from overall stress, job automation, and the diminishing societal safety net. You can expect intra-state climate migration to become the norm here as well, especially if people in positions of power won’t prioritize climate change as “real.”

It might seem like there isn’t much you can do as a regular person, but there are many ways to help (and in the case of climate change, every bit truly does matter, no matter how small, in holding back the worst impact globally). Take a look at the work these organizations are doing, and contribute either financially or with your time as a volunteer:

Environmental Defense Fund

The Sierra Club

Earth Justice

Natural Resources Defense Council

Conservation International