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Climate Refugees: Destabilising an Unstable World

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The Cultures of Climate Change at CRASSH announces its first event of Easter Term, a lecture by Professor Norman Myers of the University of Oxford. This lecture will be followed by discussion and a wine reception.

Abstract: We are witnessing a new phenomenon in the global arena: the environmental dimension to security issues. It reflects those environmental factors—water, soil, vegetation, climate, and whatever others are prime components of a nation’s environmental foundation—that ultimately underpin all our economies and hence our societies and our political stability. When these environmental resources are degraded, our security declines too. In fact, any adverse environmental factor can serve as a source of economic disruption, social tension and political antagonism. While it may not always trigger outright confrontation, it helps to destabilize societies in an already unstable world—a world in which we can expect the destabilizing process to become more common as growing numbers of people seek to sustain themselves from declining environments. This thesis is illustrated with particular reference to three issues: water supplies (and scope for water wars), global warming and population/poverty pressures. Environmental refugees: already total 25 million or more than all conventional refugees, and could total well over 200 million in a globally warmed world.

Norman Myers is currently Professor and Visiting Fellow at Green College, Oxford University, and at the Said Business School. He has been a senior advisor to organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the White House. For his pioneering work on mass extinction of species, tropical deforestation, environmental threats to security, ‘perverse’ subsidies, environmental refugees, and degradation of future evolution he has been awarded the Volvo Environment Prize, the UNEP /Sasakawa Environment Prize and the Blue Planet Prize. He is only the second person worldwide to receive all three major environmental prizes.

This talk is part of the The Cultures of Climate Change series.

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