Environmental scientist Norman Myers, who wrote several papers inthe 1990s and early 2000s to alert policy-makers and public opinion about the’growing phenomenon’ represented by ‘environmental refugees’ (Myers, 1993, 1997, 2002; Myers and Kent, 1995).All of these papers contained estimates and predictions of the number of peopledisplaced by environmental change. He said that in 1995 25 million people displacedbecause of environmental changes (Myers and Kent, 1995).This number appears to be based on a compilation of different regional orcountry reports, some of them conducted by Myers, including 5 million in theSahel, ‘where a full 10 million had fled from recent droughts, only halfreturning home’ (Myers, 2002) and 7 million in other parts of Africa,seeking relief food all of which moved to areas of northern Africa i.

e. Lybiaand tried mostly unsuccessfully to cross borders in Europe due to Lybiandictator Gaddafi’s  good interrelations with the Italian primeminister Berlusconi. However themutually beneficial relationship between the European Union and northern Africahas collapsed allowing an unhappy Europe to deal with the refugee crisis byitself. The credibility of the figure was reinforced after the Red Crossstressed in its 2001 World Disasters Report that more people were forced toleave their homes because of environmental disasters than war (International Federation of Red Cross and RedCrescent Societies, 2001). This claim was based on operationalreports from the Red Cross activities in the field.

The figure of 25 millionwas also quoted in the famously controversial report of the NGO Christian Aid,”Human Tide’ (Christian Aid, 2007). Estimates onthe number of migrants due to catastrophic events such as natural disasters aremore extensive and less controversial. The latest and most accurate study is theone released in June 2011 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center andthe Norwegian Refugee Council (Yenotani, 2011). The study reviewscomprehensively the natural hazard-induced disasters that occurred in 2009 and2010, and concludes that 17 million people were displaced by suchdisasters in 2009, and 42 million in 2010, most of them in Asia whichis currently not having a large effect on environmental refugee influx inEurope.  The forecast of 150 milliondisplaces by 2050 takes into account the demographic expansion ofdeveloping countries as well as the deteriorating environmental conditions.Amongst these, Myers considers principally sea-level rise and desertification.

His forecast is based on the number of people that are expected to live in theregions at risk by 2050: in a deterministic manner, Myers assumes that allthese people will be forced to leave. He separated these numbers intogeographical locations which he estimates to be under stress. Bangladesh: 26million, Egypt: 12 million, China: 73 million, India: 20 million and otherparts of the world, including small island states: 31 million i.e. Tavulu andthe Maldives being some of the first affected.

Whilst it is extremely difficultto predict the direct cause of individual environmental refuge it is widelybelieved within the scientific community that 250 million people will be permanentlydisplaced because of climate-change related phenomena such as droughts,famines, floods and hurricanes by 2050. Even if half of these migrants arrivedon Europe’s shores there would be an immediate crisis due to the inability ofthe European Union and individual governments to accept responsibility for providingappropriate infrastructure for these people.


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