The Growing Problem of Environmental Displacement

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The number of environmentally displaced people is growing and it’s important for individuals to be informed of the topic and what all it entails. A study published by Economic & Political Weekly, in 2009, approximates 24 million displaced people due to climate change and environmental situations. (Economic & Political Weekly, 2009) That number was estimated to grow to 50 million by 2010, and exceeding 150 million by 2050. (Economic & Political Weekly, 2009)

The world has to be informed of what these numbers mean. Understanding what environmental displacement means is a step toward that direction. Along with understanding what environmental displacement means, it’s also important to know the difference between environmental migrants and climate refugees.

This paper will provide an understanding of the terminology used in regards to environmental displacement, and will follow with examples of case studies. Information will be given about trauma counselors and the importance of their work with survivors of natural disasters. This paper will not only provide awareness to the reader of the current environmental displacement situation, but it will also challenge readers to be prepared for the future of it.

I. The Meaning of Environmental Displacement:

Researcher Norman Myers defines those individuals displaced due to environmental problems by saying they are, “…people who could no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with the associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty.” (2001, p 609)

Similar to traditional refugees, there are different types and layers of environmental mig...

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Myers, N. (2001, October 19). Environmental refugees: A growing phenomenon of the 21st century. The Royal Society, 357. 609-613.

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Science Daily. (2014). Retrieved from

Unknown. (2009, June 6-12). Climate Refugees. Economic and Political Weekly, 44:23. 7.

L. Vanderzalm, personal communication, April 24, 2014

Walker, C. (2010). Climate refugees in Australia? Chain Reaction, 108. 12-13.
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