Monday, May 14, 2007

A Billion Climate Refugees

That's billion with a "B." A billion people, as in just under one sixth of the world's population, could be displaced by climate changes, according to a report being released this week. An article about the report in The Age says,
GLOBAL warming will create at least 1 billion refugees by 2050 as water shortages and crop failures force people to leave their homes, sparking local wars over access to resources, a leading aid agency has said.
Published to mark Christian Aid Week, the report said the numbers of displaced people would dwarf the refugee crisis that followed World War II. Released yesterday, the report, Human Tide: The Real Migration Crisis, said that unless urgent action was taken, the added problems brought by environmental changes would spiral out of control.
Christian Aid said that as the developed world was responsible for most of the climate-changing pollution, it should bear the brunt of the cost of helping those worst hit by it — the poor.
"We believe that forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor people in the developing world," said lead author John Davison.
Scientists predict that average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 3 degrees this century because of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, causing floods and famines and putting million of lives at risk.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that by 2080, up to 3.2 billion people — a third of the planet's population — will be short of water. Up to 600 million will be short of food and up to 7 million will face coastal flooding.
"We estimate that, unless strong preventative action is taken, between now and 2050 climate change will push the number of displaced people globally to at least 1 billion," the Christian Aid report said.

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