The Climate Refugees

A climate change refugee in Bangladesh.©

According to a new report, "No Place Like Home," by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), 150 million people will lose their homes by 2050 as a result of climate change. These "climate refugees" as they are being called, will be displaced by extreme weather events that include storms, hurricanes, floods, heat waves and droughts—weather events that have more than doubled in number over the last 20 years, EJF reports.

Developing nations, with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions historically, "stand to bear over nine-tenths of the climate change burden in terms of deaths and economic losses," a press release notes. Such calamity has already happened. "In 2008, more than 20 million people were displaced by climate-related natural disasters," writes EJF, "including 800,000 people displaced by Cyclone Nargis in Asia, and almost 80,000 displaced by heavy floods and rain in Brazil."

Because these newest refugees are not covered under the Geneva Convention, EJF Director Steve Trent says in a statement, "A new international agreement is required to address the sheer scale and human cost of climate change, and secure fairer and more equitable long-term solutions." Costs to address climate change are estimated at $300 billion annually, but the group compares that figure to the $150 billion paid to bail out AIG in 2008, making the prevention of worldwide climate catastrophe seem like a bargain.

Source: Environmental Justice Foundation report.