A family in Pakistan walks through
(Photo: Asian Development Bank)
“Future Projections and Prospects
This article has provided an overview of the major strands of research on climate change-induced migration. Returning to the question posed at the beginning, how likely is it that we will witness mass migration as result of climate change in coming decades?
Researchers have used a variety of techniques to try and predict numbers of future migrants and, to some degree, source and destination areas. At the simplest level, exposure models identify the number of people who will likely be exposed to a given hazard—most often sea-level rise, but also recurrent flooding or drought—and estimate the proportion of people likely to move. For example, researchers Scott Kulp and Benjamin Strauss estimate that 1 billion people now occupy land less than 10 meters above current high-tide lines, including 230 million below one meter who will presumably need to relocate as sea levels rise. At a more sophisticated level, statistical models of populations’ past tendencies to migrate in response to climate anomalies project possible numbers of migrants under various future scenarios. “