Can environmental migrations be measured?

Population and Societies

522, May 2015

In recent years, extreme events have triggered considerable population mobility. Rising sea levels and ever more frequent natural disasters are raising concerns about an increase in “environmental” or “climate” migration. But can such migration be measured? Jacques Véron and Valérie Golaz take a closer look at this question.

Though environmental migration is an issue of growing importance, it is often difficult to determine whether environmental change is the main factor involved. Climate change is likely to result in more frequent and severe “natural” disasters, but mobility is only one possible response; others involve adapting the exposed territories to new constraints. If mobility is to become a strategy for anticipating and responding to the effects of natural disasters, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms at play when populations move.

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