Environmental problems to displace millions, experts say
By 2050, some 200 million people will be displaced by environmental problems, including climate change, experts warned at this week’s Environment, Forced Migration, and Social Vulnerability conference in Germany. “All indicators show that we are dealing with a major emerging global problem,” said Janos Bogardi of the Institute on the Environment and Human Security. “The issue of migration represents the most profound expression of the inter-linkage between the environment and human security.” Demographers predict that most environmental migrants will differ from typical economic migrants who are usually young men able to work and send money home; instead, environmental migrants are likely to be much poorer people and whole families, including women, children, and elderly folks. Tracking the movements of environmental refugees can also be more difficult since they won’t always be forced to cross international borders. “Environmental problems may not force anyone to cross an international border, but no one can deny the terrible similarities between those running from the threat of guns and those fleeing creeping desertification, water shortages, floods, or hurricanes,” said Konrad Osterwalder of the United Nations.