‘The impacts of climate change on migration and health are likely to be the more destabilising consequences of global climate change.’
Examine the extent to which you agree with this statement (10)
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There is great uncertainty concerning the future impacts of climate change but it is becoming clear that unless temperature rise can be limited to 2°C, the impacts will be severe and unevenly distributed. Climate change threatens water and food insecurity as well the flooding of low-lying nations like Bangladesh. Many factors, combined will destabilise countries. Both heath and migration have the potential to destabilise at a range of spatial scales.
Climate change is likely to bring about enormous environmental change. Examples include estimated sea rise of between 60 and 80cm by the end of the century. Increased drought in arid environments as well as the onset of heavier unpredictable rainfall events and flooding in tropical and temperate regions. Glacial retreat will lead to increased water insecurity and soil erosion, partly due to poor land management will increase food insecurity.
Individually each of these factors alone have the potential to destabilise nations. Competition for vital resources is likely to increase at a range of scales from the local to the global. The search for grasslands is already leading nomadic farmers to take larger migratory routes. This creates conflict with sedentary farmers, as seen in Kenya over land and water access along the River Tana. Competition for local water resources, falling groundwater and salt free soils will lead to increased water and land conflict and only serve to destabilise.
With increased water stress and falling crop yields as well as most region of the world experiencing a migration of disease vectors such as the mosquito, there is bound to be greater impact on health. Such health impacts will have grave consequences for economic stability, impacting productivity and growth. Health impacts have the potential to destabilise at both the national and global scale. With increased health demands, health capacity becomes overburdened, civil agencies struggle with capacity and economic institutions and productivity all weaken as seen in Brazil in its fight against Zika virus. At the household scale, working days and school days are reduced due to ill health and farm productivity falls as does food security.
In addition, with increased competition for resources compounded by population pressure, the likelihood of environmental refugees is almost inevitable. We are already seeing massive numbers of economic migrants escaping regions in sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom are looking for a better life, but in reality are fleeing poverty brought on by competition for resources and environmental stress. Increased migration to urban centres as well as emigration can add pressures on resources, employment and security. Migrants bring with them both opportunities and challenges but in places like Bangladesh where resources are already fiercely competed over, outside migrants increase resource and employment pressures can quickly and local frustrations can quickly turn violent. One of the biggest challenges in Dhaka is water security. Authorities fear that a widespread water crisis could bring down the government. In addition, many people may across the border to already politically unstable regions of India, increasing international tensions
Most environmental refugees place the strain on local regional centres, that are often resource poor but resilient to the challenges. Increasingly we are witnessing many migrants attempting a dangerous journey to more developed regions like Europe. Horrifying accounts of the dangers they face has prompted Europe to mobilise resources to securing their boarders but also saving lives. This comes at a price and requires careful political coordination. During a period of renewed nationalism in Europe it brings the region into potential political conflict. Brexit was fought mainly on the grounds of an anti-migration campaign that now threatens not only the short-term economic stability of the UK but also the legitimacy and sustainability of the EU project.
As already stated many factors relating to climate change will be destabilising. The impacts will be felt at the local and global scale. Whilst health impacts are likely to destabilise local and regional communities, mass migration threatens to destabilise entire global regions.