Historical Perspectives on Climate, Disasters and Migration

Accelerating global warming in the twenty-first century has raised alarms about large-scale migration driven by droughts, floods, heat waves, and other disasters. Current anthropogenic climate change and its impacts are unprecedented, human migration in the face of climate and weather disasters presents a much longer history. On the one hand, this history could serve as a valuable guide for understanding and responding to climate migration in the present. On the other hand, using this history creates risks of misleading narratives, faulty analogies, unexamined assumptions, and the distortion of history for political ends. This talk considers uses and misuses of history in discussions of climate migration and how histories of disasters and migration might help us or not.

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