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Climate Change Creating More Refugees than War

Millions of People Worldwide Displaced by the Effects of Global Warming

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Retreating glacier in the Arctic
Anna Henly/Digital Vision/Getty Images
The number of refugees worldwide grew from 9.9 million in 2007 to 11.4 million in 2008, according to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which identified climate change as one of the leading causes of the global rise in refugees, along with conflict and escalating food prices.

Climate Change Displaces More People Than War
According to the International Red Cross, climate change disasters are now a bigger cause of population displacement than war and persecution.

The global impact of the environment on human livelihoods is creating a new kind of casualty: environmental refugees. Rising sea levels, increasing desertification, weather-induced flooding, and more frequent natural disasters have become a major cause of population displacement in several parts of the world—a trend that is very likely to continue.

Scientists Predict 50 Million Environment Refugees by 2010
According to a report published by the United Nations University, there are now about 19.2 million people officially recognized as "persons of concern," people who are likely to be displaced because of environmental disasters. This figure is predicted to grow to about 50 million by the end of the year 2010.

The UN points out that these forecasts are not inevitable. If the international community joins forces to create and carry out an effective strategy to curb global warming and manage Earth’s natural resources more efficiently, there still may be time to reverse population displacements and stem the rising tide of refugees.

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