Oxfam sets out to scare the beejabbers off us:
“People are already leaving their homes because of climate change, with projections that 75 million people in the Asia-Pacific region will be forced to relocate by 2050 if climate change continues unabated. Not all will have the option of relocating within their own country,\”
Hmmm. So the number of international migrants caused by climate change is going to be some fraction of that 75 million then. What fraction we don\’t know, for we\’re not told. Shall we say 50%? Just to use something?
OK, rounding a bit, let\’s call it 40 million.
Over what timescale? Well, given that the IPCC says that we\’re going to see something like 30 cm, maybe 50 cm of sea level rise by 2100 (yes, I know, others say larger but then all sorts of people disagree with the IPCC). So should we even that 40 million out of the 90 odd years left in this century?
No, let\’s not. Rather, we\’ll be more alarmist than that. We\’ll do it over the 40 odd years to 2050. 1 million a year, just because that\’s a nice round number.
Now, this is clearly a problem for those 1 million people. They\’ll have to move from a low income Pacific Island (no, the Solomons, Tuvalu, Micronesia, these are not high income places) to a higher income place. Well, at least potentially a higher income place, but I think it\’s pretty obvious that, given the choice, they\’ll not move to a poorer place.
But, but…..a million people a year! This is clearly a ginormous problem, where will they all go?
Well, actually, is it a ginormous problem? Is this something that the world cannot cope with? The US takes in some 6 or 7 million international migrants a year, doesn\’t it? Sure, not all are legal, but we\’re not exactly swamping the current international flows here, are we?
In fact, according to the official figures, there are some 190 million international migrants right now.
As I say, yes, this is a problem. But it simply isn\’t a big or serious problem globally, however much it might be a problem for individuals. Adding 0.5% per annum to the stock of international migrants, even on the very generous figures I\’ve used, simply isn\’t something that we cannot cope with. Cope with without even noticing that we are in fact.