Climate migration myths

From Nature Climate Change


Nature Climate Change volume 9, pages 901–903(2019) Cite this article

Misleading claims about mass migration induced by climate change continue to surface in both academia and policy. This requires a new research agenda on ‘climate mobilities’ that moves beyond simplistic assumptions and more accurately advances knowledge of the nexus between human mobility and climate change.

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International migration and climate policy assumes that anthropogenic climate change already is, and will increasingly be, a major driver of mass migration from the Global South to the Global North. The UNFCCC explicitly specifies the need to avert, minimize and address climate displacement1, while the UN Security Council warns of mass climate migration and the subsequent risk of aggravating conflicts2. Although the potential for climate change to disrupt livelihoods and threaten lives is real, these policies reinforce a false narrative that predicts large numbers of ‘climate refugees’. This self-referencing narrative in scientific literature and policy reports has the consequence of entrenching climate migration as a looming security crisis without an empirical scientific basis3.

Instead of being challenged, this emphasis on securitization (presenting climate change and migration as a security risk) is actively being perpetuated by public funding schemes for scientific research intended to inform national, regional or international policy development. In doing so, these funding policies use the justification of avoiding harm to destination areas in order to keep climate migrants in their places of origin4. A recent EU Horizon 2020 funding call for research on climate change and migration was symptomatic of this securitization agenda, reflecting political demands rather than research gaps to alleviate “migration pressures at the source”5. Similarly, a Horizon 2020 research funding call from 2015 used the example of climate migration to illustrate the “real threat” of Third Country climate-driven crises to European security6.

The influence of this narrative is considerable, with ‘climate-induced migration’ now a common rationale for measures to strengthen and protect national and regional borders in the Global North. For example, the EU migration agenda aims to protect borders “with the intent to keep people in their places and minimize migration”7. The US Department of Defence names intra- and interstate migration associated with climate change as responsible for negative human security effects in destination countries8. Similarly, Australia is pursuing a policy of territorial control, by either keeping borders closed or extending Australian law to ‘off-shore’ processing on Pacific island countries9.

New international science funding schemes, such as the forthcoming call for research on Human Migration and Global Change by the internationally funded Belmont Forum and successor programmes to the EU Horizon 2020, can help in rethinking climate change and migration by offering scientists an opportunity to take a new look at what constitutes global mobility. If such opportunities are not taken, there is a danger that migration policy will continue to be based on weak scientific evidence that reinforces the self-perpetuating myth of climate change migration as a looming security crisis.

A fresh approach is therefore needed, one that enables science to actively help to shape public funding schemes for scientific research that properly captures the complex, mobile and interconnected nature and key challenges of climate change and migration. We offer the following research agenda to achieve that aim, consisting of six priorities to help science policy to move beyond its securitized outlook.

Full article here.

64 thoughts on “Climate migration myths

  1. We have mass immigration to england, from as far as china, Afghanistan, Pakistan, all of Europe, nepal, south America, and its not due to the “climate” is due to free healthcare and benefits. If those countries had even free basic healthcare and jobs, nobody would come to england. The biggest problem when they get here now is living costs, rent, bills, food, transportation. We have Nepalese gurkha living next door, and I asked why are you living in england, they said “because the british doesn’t pay our pensions in nepal” so they have to live here! Rent on a 3 bedroom house in london is £1300 to £1600 in some places, that’s just rent 😐

    • because the british doesn’t pay our pensions in Nepal

      If they were “British Army” soldiers then why did the Brits not pay any pension due?
      Not likely that would be a lot, so the “free” stuff in England is what is wanted.
      News reports suggest there are wealth destroying policies in England, so providing “free” stuff is becoming more difficult. Perhaps there will soon be reverse migration.

      • For the same reason the Brits shat on the Ghurkas who had served with the British army in WWII.

        For example, the EU migration agenda aims to protect borders “with the intent to keep people in their places and minimize migration”7

        Oh wow, EU has borders? When did that begin, I must have missed it. I thought Hungary was the only country in EU which maintained its borders.

        None of the cases stated have anything to do with “climate” they are economic migrants.
        My nextdoor neighbour is Syrian. He has never mentions climate change or climate driven crises as the reason he fled the country. Maybe civil war and , as an armenian christian, being caught between murdering Jihadis and genocidal Turks may have had more to do with it.

    • The link between climate change and Marxist movements is clear. It’s one for all and all for one. Only a denier would dispute this connection from day 1, the first Earth Day and Lenin’s 100th birthday.

  2. Are the refugees from cold to warm during winter or with the start of retirement taken into account ?

    • Right on, KG! And how about us annual climate refugees? I migrate from Argentina to Miami Beach every June/July, to play golf, snorkel, and eat great food. I just read what I wrote and I think I should feel guilty.

    • Climate Change effects by country

      The IPCC 5th Report, shows that Climate Change is already here, affecting we all. However, the climate change effects are different among countries. They depend on the country’s position on Earth and its specific features

      Observed Climate Change effects by country
      Temperatures raised all over the world. However, the temperature increment is higher in some areas compared to others. For instance, the warming in higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere is considerable higher than in the tropics.

      Regarding precipitation, Climate Change effects by country are quite different. There has been a rainfall increment in higher latitudes in both hemispheres. Instead, precipitation decreased in areas already facing water shortages, such as Mediterranean catchment and sub-Saharan region.

      The article includes country charts using the Climate Data API.

      Climate Data API

      The Climate Data API provides programmatic access to most of the climate data used on the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Web developers can use this API to access the knowledge portal’s data in real time to support their own applications, so long as they abide by the World Bank’s Terms of Use.

      Note: I usually find UNFCCC declarations too generic; easily dismissed. One needs to show specific impact by region to speculate about migration etc.

      GCM based, Looks like the World Bank is taking a logical step in the right direction?

    • Oops
      Not sure why i posted the same link twice. Global warming is to blame surely. What else could it be?

    • I like this article, particularly the part about how the switch to palm oil was precipitated by fears of global warming and a wish to avoid using fossil fuels; because yesterday on CNN there was a scolding article blaming “The West” – who else – for exacerbating global warming due to “our insatiable desire for palm oil”.

  3. My 5 cousins migrated to the UK from northern Ontario because the weather was too severe. They are Climate refugees.

    They had visited the UK many times as children, as their mother was my auntie, had dual nationality so could choose, and they all chose our mild damp little island.

    I must admit I visited that part of Canada, in Summer and in Winter, and the climate was very challenging. In the summer the heat and humidity was awful, and in winter you really couldn’t go outside, I ran between the car and the house!

  4. I moved from central Illinois and the windswept, blizzard-ridden cornfields to Chicago, and from Chicago to the north end of the state, where we only occasionally get the piles of snow and frozen sidewalks that Chicago gets. It’s also cooler up here in the summer. I guess the makes me a climate refugee, too?

  5. Sweden has a rather low murder rate, so why would the Swedes think that migrants are dangerous.

    In 2016 ten out of the 105 murder cases were honor killings, representing roughly 10% of all murder cases and a third of all murders of women in Sweden.

    In May 2017 a survey by Dagens Nyheter showed that of 100 suspects of murder and attempted murder using firearms, 90 had one parent born abroad 75% were born in the 90s. link

    I have no idea of what to conclude. Is this a case that you can find statistics to prove anything?

    There was a question in the European parliament alleging that serious crimes are being ignored because the authorities are afraid of being accused of racism. link Is this real or is it just a moral panic?

    Just looking at national murder rates, you wouldn’t conclude that migrants are creating a rise in the rate. link Even so, I keep hearing disturbing stories.

    • “About 58% of men convicted in Sweden of rape and attempted rape over the past five years were born abroad, according to data from Swedish national TV.
      Public broadcaster SVT said it had counted all court convictions to present a complete picture in Sweden.“ BBC

      Not very many immigrants are dangerous people, but the dangerous people are more likely to be immigrants.

      Evolution instilled in us the instinct to stay away from what may be dangerous, even if odds are it isn’t. That is why so many steer clear of snakes and spiders (and, no, I am not comparing immigrants to snakes and spiders).

      • Snakes have been very important in human evolution. Our vision enables us to see snakes and recognize their camouflage patterns. link Snake detection and avoidance is hardwired into us.

  6. They’ve obviously been counting the UN’s “50 million Climate Refugees by 2010”. Maybe several times over

  7. If we are actually going to talk about the article seriously it does contain a major problem that there is no requirement that any country allow climate migration. Article 1 of the refugee convention only allows protection from persecution

    owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it

    So there is no such thing as a climate refugee, economic refugee, natural disaster refugee or any of the other variants fleeing anything other than persecution. That is why there is increasing numbers of people being detained as illegal immigrants by countries because they don’t recognize them legally as refugees.

  8. The last paragraph says all you need to know. Climate scientists need more power to write they own checks.

  9. “the potential for climate change to disrupt livelihoods and threaten lives is real”
    Really? Real in what sense? As in the potential for space alien change to “disrupt livelihoods and threaten lives”? Climatism is the real threat to mankind, not “climate change”.

  10. I wish I could afford to be a climate refugee. Right now in (Old) South Wales it’s about 4C in the sunshine. I hear the Maldives have some nice warm locations. With the land mass expanding there must be some cheap properties, unless it’s full of climate tourists?

  11. Last time I was there Bermuda was full of blue rinse Canadian ladies. It was winter, of course.

  12. If I move to Henderson NV for the dry, sunny climate to get away from the humid, wet Florida climate, am I a climate refugee?

  13. The article suffers from starting out on the wrong foot; i.e. a false premise:
    “Although the potential for climate change to disrupt livelihoods and threaten lives is real…..”

    What is real is that weather threatens lives; always has, and always will.

    If you correctly define the problem, the chances are greater that you will come up the a correct solution.

    • “The UN Security Council warns of mass climate migration and the subsequent risk of aggravating conflicts.” Climate change is a problem; who cares for wars in Syria, in Iraq, in Ukraine, in Congo? The UN learned to play it safe.

  14. Climate refugiees exist. Every day we fly up to 4 rotations of sun & warmth seeking crowds to sandy beaches and hot party nights.

    Unfortunately they must come back and work because happens, there’s no free meal for those seeking to escape the grip of lugubre endless winters.

  15. Notice that Costa Rica is subject to the same climate change, earthquakes, hurricanes etc. yet very few leave.

  16. My wife and I moved from Michigan to Tucson, AZ, because of the climate. When we had a young family, we took most of vacations in Canada — so we went north (nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there). Our children all migrated south from Michigan, and most of my nieces and nephews now live south of where they were born. The retirees and young in our extended family who could afford it, have nearly all moved south to Florida and Arizona. We have whole communities of retired climate refugees in Arizona. Then too, we have a great many illegal alien economic refugees in the southwest who have moved up from Mexico and Central America.

    If we can afford it, most of us are “Goin’ where the climate suits my [our] clothes.”

  17. Countries with the highest population growth rates:
    1 Oman 8.45
    2 Lebanon 5.99
    3 Kuwait 4.81
    4 Qatar 4.72
    5 South Sudan 4.09
    6 Niger 4.00
    7 Burundi 3.34
    8 Chad 3.31
    9 Iraq 3.31
    10 Angola 3.30
    11 Uganda 3.27
    12 Gambia 3.24
    13 Democratic Republic of the Congo 3.17
    14 Tanzania 3.16
    15 Senegal 3.10
    16 Jordan 3.06
    17 Malawi 3.06
    18 Zambia 3.05
    19 Afghanistan 3.02
    20 Mali 2.98

    See a pattern? It ain’t south to north.

    • These figures must be for estimates of surviving children.

      (Lancet 392 2018 1995-2051) gives higher numbers for total fertility rates for these countries. However the striking finding was the countries in which birth rates have fallen below replacement. It is not just the highly Western Europe, but also India (2.1) and Bangladesh (2.0). These are current birth rates, and the numbers of children already born will still cause an increase in population, but much smaller than estimated only 10 years ago. If these birth rates continue indefinately, then humans will indeed become extinct, so maybe extinction rebellion got something right.

      The major correlate of decreasing birth rates is urbanisation, when children become an expense rather than an asset in fields. Also urbanisation leads to women working and to them having access to the means of birth control. Anyone who has gestated, birthed and nursed a baby will tell you it is very hard work – I had my two and an accident.

  18. Um, I thought New Yorkers were leaving NY to go to Florida (isn’t that closer to the Equator, adn thus hotter?) because of NY taxes.More taxes may only solve the problem of overcrowding in NY.

  19. From the article: “This self-referencing narrative in scientific literature and policy reports has the consequence of entrenching climate migration as a looming security crisis without an empirical scientific basis.”

    That applies to all of alarmist climate science. None of it is based on evidence, the scaremongering is 100 percent speculation, including the part about climate refugees.

    There are no human-caused climate change refugees because there is no human-caused climate change. There’s no scientific evidence for it. Claiming that something that has never been shown to exist is forcing human migration, is delusional or dishonest.

    All military people, especially US military people, who think human-caused climate change is a real problem need to be drummed out of the service as soon as possible for not being mentally fit to serve. We don’t want delusional people in our military.

  20. Skeptical science pushes the meme of climate change migration.
    The recently ran the story of how climate change was causing migration out of the Mekong delta in Vietnam.
    Completely ignoring the large increase in the big cities manufacturing over the last 20 years. Typical SkS making $hit up

  21. Charles Rotter / 4 days ago December 1, 2019

    And his “Nature Climate Change” tales of “mass migration induced by climate change” borrowed

    From Nature Climate Change –


    Nature Climate Change volume 9, pages 901–903(2019) Cite this article

    Misleading claims about mass migration induced by climate change.

    South America Geographic terms like

    Belo Horizonte, Belmonte, Ribeirão Preto, Blumenau, Bahía Blanca, Flores, La Paz, Sucre

    give a notion why Hispanics saw chiefly in the he subcontinent South America their first choice to roam:

    Sounded, looked, breathed like “coming home”.

    Now that they ruined their new land of dreams they blame “climate change”, fleeing to the North –

    await the ruinous ends.

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