A staggering 30.7 million people have already been displaced in 2020 alone, fleeing their uncertain fates around floods, droughts, wildfires or heat waves, according to the report compiled by the International Federation of Human Rights. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Climate change is expected to displace nearly 42 million people each year due to the extreme weather events they will face over the next 20 years, known as climate refugees.
According to World Bank estimates, this may climb to 200 million people threatening to abandon their homes over the next thirty years to 2050, which is in line with IPCC forecasts which noted human migration as the the most significant impact of climate change backwards. 1990.
“Many more people are newly displaced by disasters in any given year, compared to people newly displaced by conflict and violence, and more countries are affected by disaster displacement,” explains the World Migration Report.
In turn, this climate change-induced movement may likely become fertile ground for demographic imbalance and social friction, leading to violence.
Climate change and ghost houses:
Much like the abandoned houses in an overnight transformed village called Kuldhara, India’s outlying territories constantly see their own people leaving.
One of the main reasons being the frequent pressures of climate change.
“Now a hundred of these houses are in compromised situations and could collapse into the sea any day. Over the past two decades, hundreds of houses, including a village market, a school, a temple and a bus stop, fell into the sea due to cyclones and sea erosion.explains a resident of Uppada along the eastern Godavari, near the port of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
An expert explains: “Climate change can deepen socio-economic divides which, in some cases, can snowball into political instability and worsen conflict. Migration is an essential link in this chain of consequences. So-called ‘inside vs. outside’ conflicts are on the rise.
For the Indian coastline, change has become the new constant. A report estimates that 32% of the coastline suffered erosion while 27% of it expanded between the 1990s and 2018.
An intellectual from SIPRI, the Swedish Institute for Conflict and Disarmament Research adds to this problem: “Climate change increases the risk of various types of violence and human insecurity.”
Apart from this, people affected by climate change are the deepest victims of human trafficking or subjects of indecent labor without their consent.
“At least 21 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, usually involving either sexual exploitation or forced labour. This form of modern slavery tends to increase after natural disasters or conflicts where large numbers of people are displaced from their homes and become very vulnerable”.
“In the coming decades, climate change will very likely lead to a sharp increase in the number of people displaced and therefore vulnerable to trafficking”explains a teacher.
It has been evident in several instances that whenever disaster or calamity befalls an Indian state, the smugglers have found it easy to mobilize the vulnerable and marginalized population for their own benefit.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has linked factors such as climate change, natural disasters, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty to “the vulnerability and desperation that enable trafficking”.
Alas, this story of aggressive relocation is not limited to humans.
According to a 2022 study, fish stocks moving between Exclusive Economic Zones (part of the world’s seas) under the influence of climate change impacts will undergo severe changes, by about 23% by 2030.
“By 2100, a total of 45% of fish stocks are expected to leave their historic habitats and migration routes globally and 82% of EEZ waters will experience at least one stock change,” and therefore many countries dependent on its fisheries will suffer.
Several Arctic animals depend on the climate for their life processes, such as warmer spring temperatures or colder temperatures, dictate to these animals when to migrate, breed, find food (when and where).
“The Arctic is showing more extreme signs of climate change. Arctic animals react to these changes, they react quickly, and this response is not equal,” according to the results of NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE).
Black bears and grizzly bears, moose, caribou and wolves all seem to be affected by global warming, i.e. rising temperatures, increasing precipitation and decreasing ice cover .
And this is worrying because with the evolution of the models of these animals, the niche functions of many ecosystems may come to a halt.
According to an environmental engineer: “Increasingly, the ecosystem that should be tightly coordinated is breaking down.”
The interruption of reproduction, migration barriers and increased susceptibility to disease are other factors that are accentuated with climate change.
Using available technology to map the population most vulnerable to displacement reveals the wide gap between rich and poor, is therefore a better tool for ensuring ‘climate security’.
Well-regulated migration can improve some things.
Just as mentioned in the Indian Constitution, the freedom to stay as well as the freedom to move will be truly enhanced if climate change mitigation can also include the desperate measures of migration relief.