A staggering 30.7 million people have already been displaced in 2020 alone fleeing their distrustful destinies around floods, droughts, wildfires or heat waves, as per the report drafted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
It is expected that climate change is bound to displace nearly 42 million people annually because of extreme weather events they encounter in the next 20 years, termed as Climate Refugees.
According to the World Bank estimates, this can climb to a threatening 200 million people abandoning their homes in the next thirty years till 2050, which felt in accordance with the predictions of IPCC that noted human migration as the single most impact of climate change back in 1990.
“Many more people are newly displaced by disasters in any given year, compared with those 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 can likely become a fertile ground for demographic imbalance and social friction, leading to violence.
Climate change and the Ghost Houses:
Just like abandoned houses in an overnight transformed village called Kuldhara, India’s peripheral territories are constantly witnessing their own folks leaving.
One of the prominent reasons being the frequent pressures from Climate change.
“Now, around 100 such houses lie in compromised situations and can break away into the sea any day. In the last two decades, hundreds of houses including a village market, school, temple and a bus stand have gone into the sea due to cyclones and sea erosion”, explains a resident from Uppada alongside the Eastern Godavari, near Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh.
An Expert explains: “Climate change can widen socio-economic divides that in some cases can snowball into political instability and widen conflicts. Migration is a key link in this chain of consequences. The so-called ‘insider versus outsider’ conflicts are increasing”.
For Indian coastline, changes have become the new constant. A report estimates 32 per cent of the coastline to have undergone erosion while 27 per cent of it has expanded between 1990s to 2018.
An intellect at SIPRI, the Swedish institute for research in conflict and disarmament 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 most profound victims of Human trafficking or subjects of indecent work without their consent.
“At least 21 million people globally are victims of human trafficking, typically involving either sexual exploitation or forced labour. This form of modern-day slavery tends to increase after natural disasters or conflicts where large numbers of people are displaced from their homes and become highly vulnerable”.
“In the decades to come, climate change will very likely lead to a large increase in the number of people who are displaced and thus vulnerable to trafficking”, explains a professor.
It has been evident in several cases that whenever a disaster or any calamity passed an Indian state, smugglers have found it easy to mobilize the vulnerable and marginalized population for their own benefit.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has linked the factors such as climate change, natural disasters, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty to the ‘vulnerability and desperation that enables trafficking’.
Alas, this story of aggressive relocation is not only limited to humans.
As per a 2022 study, fish stocks moving between exclusive economic zones (a portion of the world Seas) under the influence of climate change impacts will undergo grave changes, approximately 23 per cent by 2030.
“By 2100, a total of 45 per cent of fish stocks are expected to shift from their historical habitats and migration paths globally and 82 per cent of EEZ waters would experience at least one shifting stock”, and hence several countries dependent on its fisheries will suffer.
Several animals in the Arctic, depend on climate for their life processes such as warmer spring temperatures or colder temperatures dictate these animals when to migrate, to breed, to find food (when and where).
“The Arctic is showing more extreme indications of climate change. Arctic animals are responding to these changes, they’re responding quickly, and that response is not equal,” as per the findings in NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE).
Black and grizzly bears, moose, caribou and wolves all seem to be affected by the warming world i.e., increased temperatures, increased precipitation and decreased ice cover.
And it is worrisome because with shifting patterns of these animals, niche functions of numerous ecosystems can come to halt.
As per an Environmental Engineer: “More and more, the ecosystem that should be tightly coordinated is getting out of whack”.
Interrupted breeding, migration barriers and increased vulnerability to diseases are other factors accentuating with climate change.
Solutions in the vicinity:
Using available technology to map the most vulnerable population for displacement uncovers the great divide between rich and poor, therefore, is a greater tool to ensure “climate security”.
A well-regulated migration can make a few things better.
Just like mentioned in the Indian Constitution, the freedom to stay as well as the freedom to move shall be truly empowered if the climate change mitigation can also include the desperate migration relief measures.