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Climate Change Will Cause Mass Human Displacement. How Can We Prepare?

July 26, 2014, 2:33 PM
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What's the Latest?

No matter what you believe (or choose not to believe) about climate change, it is impossible to deny that shifts in global weather patterns present an imminent threat to millions of people worldwide in countries such as Bangladesh, Panama, and the Marshall Islands. With the number of displaced people at its highest since World War II, the world is hardly prepared for what the UN estimates to be a humanitarian crisis to dwarf all current and past crises. The international community can't afford to wait until rising water levels and volatile storms send millions of refugees to the world's doorsteps. Preparations need to be made now.

What's the Big Idea?

Scott Leckie of Business Spectator has authored an article rife with suggestions for how to prepare for the imminent rise of the climate displaced. His most notable proposal is a preparation for mass migration:

"National and international land acquisition, planned and voluntary relocation, creating new national agencies and expanding political will, if implemented properly, can greatly reduce both the scale and suffering associated with this new form of coerced movement."

Leckie begins by estimating how much land would be needed to harbor and/or resettle 250 million displaced people (cumulatively about the size of Uganda). The world has no shortage of land and Leckie argues for making arrangements now to prepare for future inhabitants:

Setting aside land now for those requiring new land following the loss of their current land makes good sense, both in economic and human rights terms.

The issue of course is in getting a world's worth of disparate governments on the same page in order to tackle this issue head-on. Who will agree to take in the climate displaced ahead of time? How will political backlash against climate change affect preparations for its perils? Leckie's proposal is both noble and ambitious, which simultaneously makes it something of a pipe dream.

Read more at Business Spectator

Photo credit: Sangoiri / Shutterstock

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