Making Sense of Climate Change, Natural Disasters, and Displacement: A Work in Progress

Elizabeth Ferris

There has been a lot of talk lately about climate change and displacement. Predictions have been made that millions of people – perhaps a billion people – will be displaced because of climate change in the coming years1. The terms being used for those displaced by environmental factors vary. Some scholars and policy-makers refer to ‘environmental refugees’2 which is in turn criticized by others (particularly by those coming from a refugee background.)3 Anke Strauss of the International Organization for Migration predicts that by 2010 – 3 years from now – we’ll see an additional 50 million ‘environmental migrants’ which she defines as “persons or groups of persons who, because of sudden or progressive changes in the environment affecting adversely their livelihoods, have to move from their habitual homes to temporary or durable new homes, either within their country or abroad.”4