After raising hope, Biden still lacks climate migration plan

Of note (not sure any country does):

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden issued what was widely hailed as a landmark executive order calling for the U.S. government to study and plan for the impact of climate change on migration. And less than a year later, his administration released the first U.S. government assessment of the vast rippling effects of a warming Earth on international security and displacement of people.

Advocates praised both moves as bold steps toward the world finally recognizing the need to offer refuge to people fleeing not just wars and persecution but also climate calamities such as drought and rising seas.

Since then, however, the Biden administration has done little more than study the idea, advocates say.

The government has been slow to implement recommendations made a year ago by its own agencies, including the National Security Council, on how to address climate migration.

Key to progress on the issue was creation of an interagency working group to coordinate government response to both domestic and international climate migration.

But the group, which was supposed to oversee policies, strategies and budgets to help climate-displaced people, still has not been established, according to a person with knowledge of the administration’s efforts who was not authorized to speak publicly. The person said the group is expected to hold its first meeting later this fall. The administration declined to identify which agencies will participate in the working group.

Meanwhile, Biden’s report to Congress about his plans for refugee admissions to the U.S. in the 2023 budget year made scant mention of climate change.

Advocates once energized by the administration’s promises to embrace climate-displaced people say they have grown disillusioned.

“It’s been really disappointing,” said Ama Francis, climate migration expert at the International Refugee Assistance Project, a New York-based advocacy group. “We want to see real action. There are needs right now. But all we see is the administration move more slowly and staying in an exploratory phase, rather than doing something.”

That’s despite the government’s reports by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, National Security Council and Director of National Intelligence that highlighted “the urgency of expanding current protections and creating new legal pathways to safety for climate-displaced people,” Francis pointed out.

Each year, natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And scientists predict migration will grow as the planet gets hotter. Over the next 30 years, 143 million people are likely to be uprooted by rising seas, drought, searing temperatures and other climate catastrophes, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported this year.

National security officials also recommended increasing U.S. aid to countries regularly pummeled by extreme weather and strengthening support for U.S. climate scientists and others to track these events.

To that end, the government recently released plans to work with Congress to provide billions of dollars annually to help countries adapt and manage impacts of climate change, especially to those vulnerable to the worst effects.

At the U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit, Biden announced $22 million in funding for climate forecasting and research, and setting up early warning systems in places like Africa, where 60% of nations lack such systems. The administration said it plans to announce more such funding to close that gap at the global COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November.

Environmental disasters now displace more people than conflict within their own countries, though no nation in the world offers asylum to climate migrants.

The White House’s 37-page Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration was the first time the U.S. government outlined the inextricable links between climate change and migration.

Released in October 2021 as Biden headed to the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the report recommended steps, such as monitoring the flows of people forced to leave their homes because of natural disasters and working with Congress on a groundbreaking plan that would add droughts, floods, wildfires and other climate-related reasons in considering refugee status.

The report came a year after the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees published legal guidance that opened the door for offering protection to people displaced by the effects of global warming.

The guidance said climate change should be taken into consideration in certain scenarios when it intersects with violence, though the document stopped short of redefining the 1951 Refugee Convention, which provides legal protection only to people fleeing persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group.

The U.N. refugee agency acknowledged that temporary protection may be insufficient if a country becomes uninhabitable because of drought or rising seas, and suggested certain climate-displaced people could be eligible for resettlement.

Last month, more than a dozen humanitarian organizations sent a letter to the White House urging the government to give priority to refugee populations currently affected by climate change. The people include: South Sudanese and Ethiopians in Sudan where recurring drought and floods exacerbated by climate change threaten refugee camps. And Rohingya in Bangladesh where refugee camps are also at risk due to flooding.

But the Biden administration has not responded to the request, the organizations said.

“It was a positive step that the administration recognized that they should work on this issue, which is a first, so now they should make good on … that promise,” said Kayly Ober of Refugees International.

Migration is part of humanity’s adaptation to climate change and will become one of many tools for survival, so governments need now to plan accordingly, advocates say.

Humanitarian organizations provided the administration with reports on how to train immigration officers to do a better job at taking climate change into account when interviewing people for asylum or refugee status. They also offered analysis of possible legal pathways, such as expanding temporary protective status and humanitarian parole, which have allowed people fleeing natural disasters and conflicts in a limited list of countries to live and work in the United States for a few years.

The U.S. should establish a resettlement category for migrants who do not meet the refugee definition but who are unable to return safely to their homelands due to environmental risks, according to experts.

Worsening weather conditions are exacerbating poverty, crime and political instability, fueling tensions over dwindling resources from Africa to Latin America. But often climate change is overlooked as a contributing factor for people fleeing their homelands. According to the U.N. refugee agency, 90% of refugees under its mandate are from countries “on the front lines of the climate emergency.”

But so far there has been slow progress in the U.S. adopting policies recognizing them.

“Where we have some movement unfortunately is only in the uptick of people forcibly displaced in the world,” said Amali Tower, founder of the advocacy group Climate Refugees.

Source: After raising hope, Biden still lacks climate migration plan

Is anyone on Earth not an immigrant?

The very long view but one worth reflecting on:

Human beings tend to be fascinated with their beginnings. Origin stories are found across cultures, religions, ethnicities and nationalities — and they are all deeply important. These stories tell people where they come from, how they fit in and how everyone fits together.

One of these stories, of course, is the story of human genes, and it’s a story anyone with human DNA shares.

As scientists find more ancient human DNA, sample more modern DNA and develop more ways to analyze this genetic material, it’s revealing a lot about how early humans moved — and moved and moved — around the world, coming to inhabit nearly every swath of land.

So after thousands and thousands of years of nearly constant migration, are there any people out there who have never left the spot where it’s thought Homo sapiens evolved? Put another way, is there anybody on Earth who isn’t an immigrant?

“From a scientific point of view, maybe the only people that you could consider not to be immigrants would be some Khoe-San-speaking groups in southern Africa,” said Austin Reynolds, an assistant professor of anthropology at Baylor University in Texas who specializes in human population genetics.

The designation Khoe-San (pronounced coy-sawn) refers to certain African communities in the areas of Botswana, Namibia, Angola and South Africa who speak similar languages with distinctive clicking consonants, Reynolds told Live Science.

Reynolds said there are two main factors indicating that Khoe-San groups may be non-migratory descendants of original humans: They live in the place where it’s likely humans first appeared, and they have a high amount of genetic diversity. A good way to understand why high genetic diversity indicates original ancestry is by comparing genes to a bowl of M&Ms, Reynolds said. Handfuls taken out of the bowl — i.e. people who broke off from the original human population — might have only a couple M&Ms colors in them, but the original bowl will have all the colors.

Yet despite the Khoe-San groups’ proximity to the proverbial “cradle of humankind” and their significant genetic diversity, identifying them as the last genetically aboriginal peoples is not cut and dry.

Firstly, researchers don’t know for sure that southern Africa is the cradle of humankind. Some scientists think humans first evolved in East Africa, said Reynolds, and scientists haven’t amassed enough archaeological evidence in either area to be completely certain just where Homo sapiens first came on the scene.

There’s even a possibility people evolved in western Africa, Mark Stoneking, a molecular geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, told Live Science. Different environments do a worse or better job at preserving fossil remains, Stoneking said, so just because human remains were or were not found in specific places doesn’t mean humans didn’t live there long ago.

Stoneking doesn’t think there are any folks left on Earth who aren’t — scientifically, at least — immigrants.

“People have always been on the move,” Stoneking said. His recent genetic research on populations across Asia has shown that there’s a touch of just about everyone in everyone else. “All human populations have been in contact with others,” including the Khoe-San, he said, denoted by evidence in their genes, their cultures and their languages.

Early humans moved extensively around Africa for more than 100,000 years before leaving, at which point they probably moved out of eastern Africa into the Middle East, Stoneking said. It’s likely that not long afterward, people headed southeastward along the Indian coast, with many more waves of migrants following these original adventurers over a span of tens of thousands of years. Along the way, there would have been a great exchange of DNA, Stoneking said, and these two components — movement and intermixture — is what he sees as a defining characteristic of the human species.

“Humans — what they like to do is migrate, and they like to have sex,” Stoneking said. And so it seems to have been since time immemorial.

Source: Is anyone on Earth not an immigrant?

Quantifying and Visualizing Global International Migration Flows

Migration flowsAn interesting study on global migration flows and patterns by the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital. Highlights:

Contrary to common belief (4–6), our data (Fig. 3) do not indicate a continuous increase in migration flows over the past two decades, neither in absolute or relative terms. According to our estimates, the volume of global migration flows declined from 41.4 million (0.75% of world population) during 1990 to 1995, to 34.2 million (0.57% of world population) during 1995 to 2000. A substantial part of the fall might be accounted for by ceasing of cross-border movements triggered by the violent conflicts in Rwanda and the ending of the Soviet-installed Najibullah regime in Afghanistan. The number of global movements increased by 5.7 million between 1995–2000 and 2000–2005, and by 1.6 million between 2000–2005 and 2005–2010, whereas the percentage of the world population moving over 5-year periods has been relatively stable since 1995.

The size of migration flows within and between 15 world regions in 2005 to 2010 (estimates are in database S1) is shown in Fig. 4. Several migration patterns shown in Fig. 4 are broadly in line with previous assessments based on global stock data (11) and flow data for selected countries published by the U.N. (3, 4, 18, 19). Earlier observations include the attractiveness of North America as a migrant destination, the substantial movements from South Asia to the Gulf states in Western Asia, the diverse movements within and between the European regions, and the general tendency for more developed regions to record net migration gains, whereas the less developed countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America sent more migrants than they received from 2005 to 2010.

Check out the nifty interactive graphic here as a good example of how to visualize data.

Quantifying Global International Migration Flows.

Migration isn’t the answer to unemployment – The Globe and Mail

An interesting contrary view to the conventional view in favour of interprovincial migration, arguing the need to shift towards more active labour market training that allows the provinces to create more opportunities within, rather than depopulation. From a Conservative senator, Diane Bellemare, no less, in her book,  Créer et partager la prospérité (Creating and Sharing Prosperity).

Migration isn’t the answer to unemployment – The Globe and Mail.