While many conservatives are still avidly fighting to reject the evidence for climate change, 2012 will go down as a record year for producing climate refugees. A study from the International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reveals that climate change and extreme weather disasters were the main causes of human displacement last year, with Hurricane Sandy being responsible for the majority of displacement in the U.S.
According to the study, the U.S. was among the top ten countries worldwide with the highest displacement levels for 2012. Superstorm Hurricane Sandy was responsible for the world’s third largest displacement, preceded by the massive flood disasters in India and Nigeria, which accounted for 41% of the year’s total.
Scientists have long warned us that climate change would bring more extreme weather patterns, with more frequent and intense events. Four years ago the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) released a report warning that there could be 150 million climate refugees by the year 2050. Since then, the IDMC has been providing global estimates of the number of people displaced each year.
“Climate change is without doubt one of the foremost and most profound threats to environmental security and basic human rights… Climate change is deteriorating environmental conditions and compromising the most basic human rights to life, food, shelter, health, and water,” the EJF report states.
Despite the fact that, over two decades ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that “the gravest effects of climate change may be those on human migration,” and now weather patterns and records are increasingly proving that point, there are many who still vehemently refuse to acknowledge man’s impact on climate.
Politicians like Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) perpetuate the conservative mentality that climate change is a hoax, and others invoke a belief in the Second Coming to deny that their actions can have a significant impact on the planet. Just this month, a new study revealed that the U.S. response to climate change has been impeded, in part, by the Biblical “end time” belief.
So, while the evidence continues to mount, groups working to deny and spread misinformation about climate change, which are funded by the wealthy of the extreme right, along with politicians in the pocket of oil and gas corporations will continue to stifle action. The Hill reports that “Legislation is unlikely amid a Republican-controlled House and a Senate timid on climate issues.”
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.