A farmer sits on his parched agricultural land during a heavy drought in Assam, northeastern India, in March 2020. Photo by Diganta Talukdar/Shutterstock.com
Not only are humans changing the climate, but the climate is changing humans. As the environment shifts, communities face the risk of displacement, loss of local knowledge, and threats to their cultural heritage. The Institute for Economics and Peace estimates there may be as many as one billion climate migrants by 2050.
Rising temperatures result in more extreme weather, such as droughts, flooding, and hurricanes. These events can make an area unsafe to live in, forcing people to evacuate. An example of this can be seen in the World on the Move exhibit, which discusses flooding and erosion in Bangladesh that displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes.
As groups are separated from their communities, displacement threatens cultural identity and heritage. For example, the impact of Hurricane Katrina led to the displacement of over 250,000 evacuees from New Orleans in 2006. Their displacement broke apart multi-generational neighborhoods in New Orleans. The HBO Documentary Katrina Babies discusses the challenges children of Hurricane Katrina faced as they dealt with family separation and migrating to new communities.
When we think about climate change, we need to think about its impact on human migration. We must ask how we can prepare for climate migration and support displaced communities.
This section will explore the ever-changing relationship between people and the environments they live in. Resources will look at how climate change is impacting communities, such as the politics of “managed retreat” for coastal communities in the United States and how Himalayan communities maintain their cultural identity.