Climate change will cause more intense droughts, extreme flooding, and crippling heat waves in many parts of the world.
In response, some people may become climate refugees.
But Hélène Benveniste of Harvard University found that as conditions become more extreme, it will get harder for many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people to move. So some will be unable to escape.
“It’s costly to move, particularly if you’re going to move further away, and especially if you’re going to move across borders,” she says.
Climate-change-driven heat waves, droughts, and floods can damage crops and destroy houses — pushing low-income people even further into poverty.
Extreme weather could also make it more difficult for just one or two family members to move away and send money back home.
“What that means is kind of a double whammy,” Benveniste says. “You have climate change impacts in origin communities in those locations … but you also have limited options of having access to credit that is being sent back to origin communities because migrants are not being able to leave in the first place.”
So Benveniste says that as much as the world is focused on climate refugees, we also need to pay attention to people who cannot afford to escape climate disasters at all.
Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media