Forced migration and droughts in arid zones

As global warming becomes a predominant trend 50 million people living in the arid areas of the Third World will be forced off their land by persistent droughts.

This kind of outcome is more speculative and is normally mentioned in general terms. As discussed by Keyfitz (1992) the poor are set to suffer most, be least able to adapt, and the problem of forced migration will be exacerbated by population growth. Where agricultural zones shift, the migratory pressures will increase on the rural poor. The impacts of changing climate will be severest for industrially developing countries which have half or more of their population engaged in agriculture and population density which is closely linked with soil fertility. Barbier (1989) has discussed such dislocations without quantification. Woodwell (1990: 128—9) mentions hundreds of millions of people being displaced by sea level rise in the next century and additional countless millions becoming migrants due to aridity and biotic impoverishment.

Human migration in response to chronic crop failures, regional flooding or drought is cited by the 1995 IPCC report as 'difficult to quantify or value in monetary terms' (Watson, Zinyowera and Moss, 1996: 36). However, Adger and Fankhauser (1993) produced a highly speculative figure of $4.3 thousand million for a doubling of CO2 (based upon Fankhauser, 1995). These numbers from Fankhauser are meant to largely exclude impacts from sea level rise as coastal populations are assumed to be protected. In order to produce the financial number Fankhauser (1995: 49—51) borrows money estimates, only covering relocation costs, from Cline (1992) and Ayres and Walter (1991). He admits costs of hardship and stress are 'almost impossible to assess', but speculates they are a larger amount than the 'pure economic losses'; although they too are welfare impacts and no less pure in economic terms. The borrowed migration numbers of 2.7 million per year are based on a percentage 'guesstimates' for the US, also from Cline, which is then applied globally. How the 2.7 million per year becomes the figure for all impacts under double CO is unclear, i.e. the 2.7 million is a flow rather than a stock. If this is meant to be a constant flow then after about 18.5 years the 50 million migration mark would be reached.

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