East 51

Climate migrants


A newly coined word, ‘climigration’, summarizes the fate of islanders forced to flee from sea levels rising because of global warming

While it’s still not clear how the climate will evolve, scientists are now virtually certain about one thing: the sea level will rise, and it will do so quickly. Experts on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in their latest report, published in September, that between 1900 and 2010 the globally averaged sea level has risen by 1.7 mm a year, while the annual rise between 1993 and 2010 was 3.2 mm. Without massive cuts in emissions, the global sea level could rise by 52-98 cm in the next 90 years, and by much less – between 28 and 61 cm – if global emissions were slashed. Plus oceans are getting hotter, and the increased energy will mean more powerful typhoons and hurricanes, which will force many communities to move. But where to, how and when are still unanswered questions. Ten percent of the world’s population lives in coastal regions lying less than 10 m above sea level. For these people, the increase in extreme weather events, coastal erosion, rising sea levels and sea water contaminating drinking water pose serious threats. Entire families and communities will have to move. This new phenomenon has now been given its own name, climigration; migration forced by climate change, the only possible option for many hundreds of thousands of people. 

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