Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One Billion Climate Refugees

One of the consequences of climate change that the IPCC report has noted since the beginning is the problem of refugees.

We generally live in a stable climate and although there's a wide range of difference between the equator and the poles, we usually find people who think the place where they live is "not too hot - not too cold." As climate change destabilises weather patterns there are places which will become uninhabitable. Places like Egypt and Bagladesh will suffer from floods as sea levels rise. Other places will suffer from drought and desertification as the rains fail. Either way, these places will no longer support crops, livestock or people. People must move to find somewhere to survive.

Even in prosperous Australia the drought has gone on so long that the government is seriously considering evacuating whole communities.

The IPCC has estimated the number of refugees at 3m per year. That's 150m by 2050. Just yesterday Christian Aid published its report "Human Tide". It predicts 1,000,000,000 refugees by 2050; that's 1,000m

The message is clear - we must do what we can about climate change. This means cutting our CO2 emissions, but let's be in no doubt - that may stop things getting worse, but it will take a time for it to have an effect. In the meantime we need to be ready for the floods and forest fires with defences and rescue plans. We need to stop people being displaced, but if they do become refugees we need plans and locations for resettlement.

There's no doubt that there's a climate crisis - and no end to the different problems it throws up!

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