Fifty million climate refugees by 2010

In this graphic, the UNEP in 2005 predicted that there would be fifty million “climate refugees” by 2010.

I do not intend to suggest any conclusions at all by asking this, except the specific answer to the specific question as follows:

How many climate refugees have there actually been?

I imagine we could count the population that fled New Orleans following Katrina.

Is there more?

Welcome to my world. I do a lot of work on climate change in the developing world (both adaptation and mitigation) and I’m constantly trying to reign in clients and colleagues with regards to numbers that seem high or unsubstantiated. 50 mil is a tiny number of people on the global scale, so it’s easy to see how Myers could have come up with it based on a small number of assumptions (one being that no action would be taking place to alleviate the need for migration) and attributing an arbitrary percentage of environmental damage (e.g., Katrina) to CC.

The full report seems to be available, but I’m a bit behind and can’t dig through it to see if his methodology is there, how robust it is, and what he’s doing.

There are the inhabitants of Bhola Island in Bangladesh, 500,000 of which became homeless due to flooding in 1995 (half the island is now underwater). This article in 2010, suggests that there were about 6 million people displaced in Bangladesh alone due to climate conditions, and it estimated the number should rise to 7.5 million by the end of 2010.–-answering-the-basics-the-where-how-who-and-how-many/

Who counts as a climate refugee? Someone who fled New Orleans or the coastlands of Bangladesh probably, but what of people who fled a civil war? What if the civil war is due to famine? What if the famine is due to the breakdown of irrigation systems? What if the irrigation systems failed due to lack of rain in historically-rainy areas? How for back do you trace causes?

Bricker, are there any details from the context of the report that image appeared in? The sourcing on the image itself is a little vague - the 2005 Millenium Ecosystem Assessment is a huge document, and I’ve read parts of it, but I don’t have time to do through the whole thing, and “Liser, 2007” doesn’t help me any. Myers 2005 doesn’t seem to mention a number of refugees.
A far better source might be this report:
(scroll to the bottom for a PDF)

There are some limits to current methodology, summarized on page 13 of the OCHA/IDMC report:

  1. Almost no on-the-ground census of displaced persons takes place during a disaster. Assessments must be culled from reports of humanitarian assistance delivered and/or homes destroyed, and rarely are displaced people specifically enumerated.

  2. We don’t know for how long these people remained displaced. It is usually assumed that most people return home after some period of time.

  3. This report provides just a snapshot for 2008; comparable data from other years may not be available.
    It should also be noted that there is no attempt to estimate how the number of displaced persons would be different without human-induced climate change. It’s difficult enough to get information on how many people are displaced period without attempting to assign cause (which we don’t have a general solution for anyway) to the natural disaster that caused the displacement.

I thought I had a link to the report, but it’s turnign up 404 now.

Sure, sure. I figure if we can get a number for total climate change refugees, that should answer the question.

Gotcha :slight_smile: . Anyone know of a more recent estimate than 2008?