Climate-Change-Induced Human Migration: The Necessity of Collective Global Action

By Raphael Nawrotzki, Mioara Diaconu and Sharon Pittman.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The current period in history has been aptly termed “the age of globalization.” This age is characterized by an increasing interconnectedness where positive as well as negative events originating in one country may have a world-wide impact. For example, the financial crisis of 2008 originated in the banking system of the U.S.A. but affected the majority of the countries of this globe. The same is true for anthropogenic climate change as a result of an increase in greenhouse gas emission by industrialized countries which now compromises the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable populations. These high risk Least Developed Countries (LDCs) struggle to adapt to climatic changes like desertification and rising sea level that force human migration in search for survival. The chaos of this migration often precipitates violence and security crises that require humanitarian and proactive collective global action. It is the goal of this paper to explore the interface between climate change, conflict, and human migration based on current research findings and case studies. Further, the two concepts of environmental migrant and environmental refugee are presented and problems with the terminology and the legal status of the vulnerable people groups are discussed. Possible future migration patterns and their global impact are also examined. Additionally, the phenomenon called ‘abrupt climate change’ is explored. The article concludes with a set of recommendations targeting governmental and humanities interventions on how best to mitigate climate change induced migration with collective global action.

Keywords: Human Migration, Climate Change, Environmental Migrant, Environmental Refugee, Least Developed Countries, Emission Scenarios

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.43-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.361MB).

Raphael Nawrotzki

Student, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA

In 2003 I enrolled at the University of Applied Science Darmstadt (Germany) to study Biotechnology with a concentration in Environmental-biotechnology. I gained knowledge of regenerative energies, different kinds of wastewater treatments, and drinking water purification. Moreover, I participated in a project to help people in China use their organic waste in a regenerative way through lactic acid fermentation. The capstone of my undergraduate work was my thesis titled Development of a Method for Solid State Fermentation of Trichoderma harzianum and Improvement of Suitable Conidia Formulations. For this work I conducted 5 months of full-time research at the German Federal Biological Research Center (BBA). Afterwards, I enrolled in the masters program in Sustainable Development at the University of Basel (Switzerland). It was my goal to provide a broader foundation for my specialized knowledge in Environmental-biotechnology to prepare for leadership work in development aid. After one semester, I was given the opportunity to transfer to Andrews University (Michigan), so I enrolled in the Master of Science in Administration: Community and International Development program. For my specialization track, I have chosen Disaster Preparedness and Environmental Issues as my area of emphasis with a particular focus on climate change issues.

Dr. Mioara Diaconu

Associate Director of Community & International Development, Social Work & Behavioral Sciences, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA

Mioara Diaconu, of Romanian background, is assistant professor of social work and international development on the campus of Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. She joined the Behavioral Sciences and Social Work faculty, as the Associate Director of Community & International Development, in the fall of 2007. In 2002 she completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW), and a Master’s of Science in Administration Community and International Development (MSA) in 2004. Currently, she is working on her Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington (ABD). Some of her research and teaching areas of interest are as follow: Forced & Volunteer Migration; Refugee Issues; Cultural Diversity/ Multiculturalism; Disaster Response and Relief; International Social Work; Health Issues: HIV/AIDS; Women’s Issues: domestic violence, poverty, discrimination, etc.; Human Behavior; Direct Practice: Child Maltreatment; Group Work Practice & Evaluation; Human Rights & Human Trafficking, etc. She has been awarded numerous community and academic awards, scholarships, and fellowships. In 2007 she was inducted into Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Sharon Pittman

Professor, Department of Social Work, University of Texas, Edinburg, TX, USA

Dr. Pittman is a seasoned global social work educator and macro practitioner. She has diverse areas of research interest that include: Refugee women and children, international social work, non-profit administration and community empowerment. In recent years she has taught international social work in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania and Italy. She has managed USAID projects in Guinea West Africa and Madagacar. She moved South Texas on the Mexico Border 18 months ago. Dr. Pittman brings her passion for teaching and research to her senior faculty role at UTPA, but her role as wife, grandmother of five, and mother of four talented sons is what she cherishes the most.

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