Climate displacement: Projection starts to meet reality
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March 7, 2023
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Climate displacement: Projection starts to meet reality

Our latest blog post examines the growing issue of climate displacement and how projections are beginning to meet reality.

Displacement: The first signs

Climate Displacement

Often when we talk about the effects of climate change, we tend to use a language which reinforces a misguided conception of the crisis, as something to be dealt with in the future, as a bunch of projections thrown up in the air which a bunch of scientists came up with by playing around in their computers. One of these projections is the projection of mass migration which climate change was always bound to start, as famines, droughts and natural disasters keep getting more and more frequent on certain areas, drastically affecting the living conditions of local populations.

Now, displacement can be short term and long term. Short term displacement is usually caused by natural disasters, which once they pass, people can begin to return and rebuild their lives in the same place. Long term displacements on the other hand are caused by rising sea levels, desertification, and loss of agricultural land. Until now, we’ve had a lot of short-term displacement but relatively little long-term displacement. As things keep getting worse in the climate department, this will change. Long term displacement will become far more frequent and so will short term displacement, creating masses of people who’ll have to move out of their land and try to rebuild their lives elsewhere. It is not the time to talk about the political tension alone this will cause, especially with the recent rise of many neo-nazi, anti-immigrant parties in Europe, which far from staying in the margins, have started to move to the centre of European politics. Climate displacement can also lead to loss of cultural identity to the people who are moving. Many of them will have to start their whole lives from scratch, most of the time with no possessions whatsoever, in a completely new place which they might not know too much about.

Intersection: The actuality of virtual

Climate Displacement

According to UNHRC, the line of projection has fallen down from the clouds of virtual potentiality to the ground of our actual reality. We’ve caught up with our future. From 2008, an annual average of 21.5 million people have been forcibly displaced by weather-related events, including floods, storms, wildfires and extreme temperatures. They predict that the trend will worsen exponentially as climate change keeps getting worse. We might want to think about the weight of the word “Exponentially” here. It doesn’t simply mean that things will get very bad. It means that the rate with which things get bad for us is accelerating. IEP predicts that by 2050, 1.2 billion people could be displaced. If our population hits 9 billion by then, that will almost be one in seven who will be affected by this displacement. Unlike many other climate related predictions, displacement is already here. You can touch it. It is no longer a projection but a lived reality for millions. Displacement should serve as a wake up call to help us reframe climate change not as a sense of projections but as an actuality of consequences which has slowly begun to fall down on us.