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Climate Change and MigrationSecurity and Borders in a Warming World$
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Gregory White

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794829.001.0001

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Scope and Dimensions

Scope and Dimensions

The Case of Sahelian and Sub-Saharan African Migration to Europe

(p.31) Chapter 2 Scope and Dimensions
Climate Change and Migration

Gregory White

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the science associated with climate induced migration. Humans have always migrated in response to a complex array of stimuli and “forcings.” Despite the historical precedents, chapter 2 takes seriously the natural scientific evidence that climate change has accelerated in the twentieth century because of anthropocentric contributions and that climate change will deepen further in the twenty-first century. As a result, migration patterns are likely to change profoundly. CIM is a worldwide phenomenon and obviously an issue for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) confronting rising sea levels. (SIDS were first recognized as a diplomatic entity at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.) CIM is also salient in South Asia, especially in Bangladesh on an annual basis and, for example, in Pakistan in the aftermath of the August 2010 floods. Nonetheless, this book drills into the geographical space associated with African migration to Europe and its implications for governance and transit states. Much of the population movement ostensibly directed toward Europe emerges from the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa. Changing temperatures and precipitation patterns are likely to affect migratory pressures in the region. And since Africa is geographically proximate to Europe, it is the most immediate concern for North Atlantic interests. Importantly, however, chapter 2 emphasizes that while climate change may continue to contribute to CIM, most migrants within the region move short distances because adverse environmental conditions reduce access to the resources they need to migrate. The research on migration in the Sahelian and sub-Saharan context is that, paradoxically, climate change may inhibit long-range migration. So while CIM pressures to the Mediterranean and Europe are hardly insignificant, the bulk of CIM’s impact has been, and will likely remain, felt south of the Sahara—not on North Atlantic borders.

Keywords:   climate science, Sahel, Sub-Saharan Africa, drought, desertification

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