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  • "Migration [...] is one of the main coping and survival mechanisms that is available to those affected by environmental degradation." - Sylvia Lopez-Ekra

  • Mohammadpur has always had a unique relationship with the weather.

  • Located at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal, this coastal village was built on top of the Meghna River delta.

  • Deltas are a kind of landmass formed when sediment carried by rivers is deposited where that river meets a larger body of water.

  • River deltas are incredibly fertile ecosystems capable of supporting abundant agriculture and marine life.

  • However, their borders gradually change as rivers bring more sediment in and storms wash sediment away.

  • The residents of Mohammadpur are well-accustomed to managing the ebbs and flows of this ever-shifting landscape.

  • But lately, an abundance of intense cyclones have caused frequent flooding that impedes farming and fishing.

  • These floods also erode the coastline, allowing later storms to wipe away land altogether.

  • Since 2000, the Meghna River has overtaken the coastline by 2.5 kilometers, forcing many villagers to move inland or to nearby cities.

  • Mohammadpur isn't the only place where erratic weather is impacting people's mobility.

  • Repeated typhoons in the Philippines have displaced thousands from their homes.

  • In Fiji, the government is already moving many coastal villages inland to get ahead of predicted land loss.

  • And in the United States, melting permafrost is causing chunks of the Alaskan coastline to erode.

  • In some ways, this is nothing new.

  • Humanity has always adapted to changing weather and moved to regions that best support cultural lifestyles and livelihoods.

  • However, scientists agree that this rise in extreme weather is a by-product of Earth's rapidly changing climate.

  • Global warming increases the frequency and intensity of storms, flooding, and drought, while also melting polar ice caps and raising sea levels.

  • These factors are changing the environment much faster than they have in the past.

  • Even for communities with the resources to take action, the variable pace and nature of these changes makes them difficult to adapt to.

  • And the vulnerable populations most impacted by climate change are often those least responsible.

  • Many facing climate mobility live in farming and fishing communities in countries that generate dramatically fewer emissions than their larger counterparts.

  • Bangladesh is one such country.

  • The nation has a unique combination of low-lying geography and heavily-populated coastal regions.

  • Most of these vulnerable coastal families, like those in Mohammadpur, don't want to abandon their homes and livelihoods.

  • And for others, leaving Bangladesh isn't financially practical.

  • So, to stay with their communities, many have moved a few meters inland and built more resilient homes on higher ground or elevated stilts.

  • Others have tried to buy land on newly-emerging islands in the delta, while some have sent family members to find work in nearby cities.

  • A handful of individuals might even cross international borders if they have family, friends, or work connections on the other side.

  • But many of the residents who've left are eager to return home.

  • Unfortunately, it's unclear when weather extremes will die down, and the government has repeatedly delayed projects to build concrete embankments that would prevent further erosion.

  • In other parts of the world, people couldn't move inland even if they wanted to.

  • The low-lying Pacific Island nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu are only 811 square kilometers and 26 square kilometers, respectively.

  • So, migration would mean moving to a different country altogether.

  • Instead, their governments and citizens have united in physically, legally, and politically, fortifying their countries.

  • Island residents are planting coastal mangrove forests and building up low-lying areas of land with dredged sand to shield themselves against storms and rising sea levels.

  • And the islands' governments have repeatedly lobbied on the global stage for countries with the highest emissions to reduce pollution and take responsibility for climate change.

  • The challenges facing each coastal community are unique, and the diversity of the people's experiences can make climate mobility a difficult phenomenon to measure and define.

  • But as new communities are endangered by extreme weather, it's more important than ever to listen to those on the front lines of this crisis.

  • Have you ever wondered what the difference between a migrant and a refugee is?

  • Find out with this video. Or, if you want to understand exactly how we get to net-zero emissions, click on this video.

"Migration [...] is one of the main coping and survival mechanisms that is available to those affected by environmental degradation." - Sylvia Lopez-Ekra

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    nao posted on 2022/02/04
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