Forced migration due to climate change can bring the first refugees to Canada from US and Mexico within the next decade.

poster-3Three years ago in one of my design classes I introduced a project that addressed the issue of Climate Refugees through an awareness campaign. Back then the subject was still a matter of debate: if true or false, realistic or exaggerated, tangible or not, (see the post below).

Today that debate as many other past debates are outdated –tobacco as carcinogenic, anthropogenic climate change, pollution brought by the tar sands… Forced climate human migration has been reality for years. From islands wiped out in the Pacific Ocean to coastal towns virtually displaced. Entire nations are being menaced by the prospect of loosing the land due to the rising ocean levels (see the case of Marshall Islands here). People are moving,  forced not only by the lost of land but also by changes in food and water availability, famine and new illnesses consequent from climate change.

It is no longer a matter of speculation to think about how migration policies have to consider this phenomena, specially in countries like Canada. But we are now not talking about people from Marshall Islands or far places moving here. We are now facing the concrete possibility of hosting our neighbors from North America (and perhaps Central America) looking for better natural conditions for humans to live.

The same effect could be seen in the southern hemisphere. Right now many friends I have in Argentina consider moving south a healthy decision for the future, at the same  time that many immigrants from neighbor countries would consider moving to Argentina a good idea, or simply a no-choice decision. In recent months Buenos Aires experienced several catastrophic storms, and these days temperatures have reached record highs for the summer.

While I’m writing this in Edmonton feels like spring in the middle of winter. Skeptics will attribute this to the always unpredictable weather in Alberta, but our instincts tell us more than that. I heard someone mentioning this on the radio this morning, and it reminded me of my own thoughts on this three years ago. Speculation or not, and still serious, the possibility of receiving  the first silent climate migrants from the south within the next ten years is not a prediction but a calculable prospect.

Posted in April 13th, 2009

Migration forced by climate change: still intangible?

In DES 493 Project 2 students designed an awareness campaign intended to make visible a problem that for most doesn’t exist (yet?) or it is simply non-realistic: human migration due to climate change. “Climate change is today one of the main drivers of forced displacement” –Antonio Gutierres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Directly or indirectly, this has been happening for years. Today, the more connections we can do, the clearer is that serious social, geopolitical and economic problems caused by human driven global warming are just around the corner.

Still, public opinion gets the information fragmented and disconnected from everyday life. The lack of food, water and health that drives to civil wars are still seen as political problems. Privatizing water is seen as a macroeconomic choice. Droughts here and floods there are same old things that have ever happened. Proof of this distorted perception is that every problem is shown as different issues in different sections of any newspaper.

It seems like there is nothing new except for the fact that intensity and frequency of the problems is revealing a new pattern. This pattern, far from natural entropy, is challenging us, species, at a faster rate than natural evolution can bear. Still, some people is discussing if climate change is a natural cycle or if we have something to do with it. What we visual communication designers –as human beings– have to work on is not only on greening our speeches and reducing our paper carbon footprint, but also work on recognize our strongest enemy: denial, and fight against it with our best tools to make reality undeniable.

More information in this article:

Image: Gaby Wong
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    • carlosfiorentino
    • January 29th, 2013

    I’m glad you find it interesting. Where can I find your writings?

  3. This gave me more insight into a story I was writing this morning on forced migration either climate or development induced

  1. July 23rd, 2013

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