Monday, May 14, 2007

Climate change to force mass migration

Drawing heavily on some of the IPCC conclusions, Christian Aid has published a report warning that a very large percentage of the human population will become refugees over the next half-century, a problem that will be greatly exacerbated by climate change.

The Guardian reports:

A billion people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new report from Christian Aid predicts.

The report, which is based on latest UN population and climate change figures, says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, south Asia and the Middle East.

According to the development charity, the world faces its largest movement of people forced from their homes. "Forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor nations," said John Davison, the report's lead author. "Climate change is the great, frightening unknown in this equation."

About 155 million people are known to be displaced now by conflict, natural disaster and development projects. This figure could be augmented by as many as 850 million, as more people are expected to be affected by water shortages, sea level crises, deteriorating pasture land, conflicts and famine, the report says.