What is a Climate Refugee?
Tags: environment, globalization, immigrants/citizenship, climate change, climate justice, migration, refugees, 00 to 05 mins, 61+ mins
Summary: While the science behind climate science clearly shows that climate change is caused by humans (see summary of the 2013 IPCC report), its actual effects on humans is often harder for people to understand. One of the many effects of climate change, however, is the emergence of climate refugees. As defined by the creators of this film by the same name, "a climate refugee is a person displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. Such disasters result from incremental and rapid ecological change, resulting in increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, fires, mass flooding and tornadoes. All this is causing mass global migration and border conflicts." Accordingly, this trailer puts the human face back into climate change to emphasize the impact it is having on over 25 million people now, and these impacts will only continue to grow. But its impact will not only be felt by the refugees themselves, but also the societies that volunteer, or are forced to accept the mass movement of people into their countries. As John Kerry notes in the trailer, it is an "enormous national security issue." It will have further effects on food and energy prices throughout the world. You can also watch the full film (95 minutes) online. Viewers may also be interested in this second video (2013; 47 seconds) that briefly describes the first American town that will likely be lost to climate change by 2025. Kivalina, Alaska, sits on a small peninsula and is home to 400 indigenous peoples. For generations, they have depended on the sea for their survival, but because of greenhouse gases produced by other people around the world, they will lose their homes to that sea. The broader issue of climate refugees raises many important ethical questions as well. Given that the populations displaced by climate change (mostly in the Global South) have contributed far less to global warming, what responsibilities do those in the Global North--who are largely responsible for greenhouse gas emissions--have in protecting or moving these populations? In other words, what would climate justice look like?
Submitted By: Paul Dean
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