Green term of the week: ecomigration

You know how here in the U.S., retired people migrate to Florida or Arizona because they are looking for a more suitable climate to enjoy their retirement in? I suppose you could call that a form of ecomigration, but the trend to move from one region to another for climate regions is growing in leaps and bounds, and it’s not just older people don’t want to shovel snow.


A recent Washington Post piece says that climate fears are driving ecomigration across the globe. Ecomigration is when someone migrates from one region to another because of climate reasons. Sometimes, they are forced to during natural disasters, but recently more and more people have been ecomigrating in anticipation of the natural disasters that could happen due to climate change.

The piece tells the stories of several people who have picked up and moved. A Montgomery County, AL family moved to New Zealand because they see that as the best place to be, environmentally, in the next 100 years and are thinking ahead to future generations of their family.

After Hurricane Katrina, one New Orleans lawyer took a position further north in Louisiana. Last summer when N.O. was asked to evacuate in the face of Gustav, she was pleased with her decision.

Not everyone, however, can make the decision before the difficult times hit. 

In Bangladesh, about 12 million to 17 million people have fled their homes in recent decades because of environmental disasters — and the low-lying country is likely to experience more intense flooding in the future. In several countries in Africa’s Sahel region, bordering the Sahara, about 10 million people have been driven to move by droughts and famines.

In the Philippines, upwards of 4 million people have moved from lowlands to highlands as a result of deforestation.

Say what you will about New Jersey (I know many people say lots of ¬†negative things about the state), one of the things I’ve always liked about living here is the absence of severe weather. Hurricanes, earth quakes, tornadoes, really bad snow storms and the like don’t hit us often here. And I’ve thought about the fact that if we really are facing sweeping climate changes in the not so distant future, I’m not in such a bad place in the U.S. to be.¬†

What are your thoughts on this? Are you worried about the region you live in facing difficult climate changes? Have you thought about high tailing out of wherever you are to a place that is more likely to weather the changes better?

Thinking about this isn’t particularly the way I want to start my day, but thinking about it I am. How about you?

Image: Calle v H

    • Janine
    • February 25th, 2009

    Happy to be a Jersey Girl

    • GJK
    • February 25th, 2009

    I haven’t thought about migrating because of climate issues, but the topic has come up in our family before because of political issues, said to say.

    • Despairing
    • February 26th, 2009

    This crops up occasionally in Scotland and Britain. One of the problems of getting people to do anything about climate change here is that we’re going to be relatively better off, despite a wee bit more rain and rising tides. This makes us a prime location for people from southern Europe.

    How much of our “wee” island then becomes sustainable? We can’t feed ourselves as it is, should we then give over more farmland or natural resources to house climate refugees?

    And then there’s my liberal tendencies – I’d like to welcome these people with open arms and say they’ve got a home here. But should I punish my own family in doing so?

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