GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Governments around the world must be prepared for mass migrations caused by rising global temperatures or face the possibility of calamitous results, say University of Florida scientists on a research team reporting in the Oct. 28 edition of Science.
If global temperatures increase by only a few of degrees by 2100, as predicted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people around the world will be forced to migrate. But transplanting populations from one location to another is a complicated proposition that has left millions of people impoverished in recent years. The researchers say that a word of caution is in order and that governments should take care to understand the ramifications of forced migration.
A consortium of 12 scientists from around the world, including two UF researchers, gathered last year at the Rockefeller Foundation‘s Bellagio Center to review 50 years of research related to population resettlement following natural disasters or the installation of infrastructure development projects such as dams and pipelines. The group determined that resettlement efforts in the past have left communities in ruin, and that policy makers need to use lessons from the past to protect people who are forced to relocate because of climate change.
“The effects of climate change are likely to be experienced by as many people as disasters,” UF anthropologist Anthony Oliver-Smith said. “More people than ever may be moving in response to intense storms, increased flooding and drought that makes living untenable in their current location.”