Category Archives: Climate Migration

Guardian Expands Climate and Environmental Reporting

The Guardian recently announced it had added more reporters to its environmental news desk, citing climate change as the most important story of the age.

Here’s a clip from editor Jonathan Watts:

So why am I going back into full-time, specialised environmental reporting? Because it is the most important story of our age. China led me to suspect that global economic growth had run into an ecological wall, which is the underlying source of stress and conflict in the world. When I moved to Latin America, I hoped to find alternative, less destructive paths of development, but there was a part of me that also felt I was running away from my own conclusions. The new post will take me back.

The responsibility is huge. The timing is crucial. Brexit was a vote against globalisation. Trump is waging war on the environment. To counter these trends, the Guardian has devoted more resources to its environment coverage. I am looking forward to being a part of an expanded team, but we have a tough act to follow. Brown, Vidal, George Monbiot, Damian Carrington and other present and former colleagues have been pioneers in this field with agenda-setting coverage and comment. Trying to maintain that quality, ambition and influence – while looking for new approaches to changing situations – will be a hard but worthwhile task.

As to the task that humanity faces, I think the problem and the solution are environmental. The world’s current concerns – rising nationalism, swelling migration, financial instability, worsening inequality and lack of confidence in governance systems – are to varying degrees caused by insecurity and fear about the future. Underlying that is an awareness (conscious or unconscious) that our current path of capital-and-carbon-driven development is wrecking our home planet, running down resources, devastating other species and building up environmental costs that are increasingly difficult to offload on distant countries and coming generations. We have to pay a bill that has been run up over centuries and it feels as if we are broke. But that is misleading. There is still plenty left if we manage it well and share it more fairly.

We need to reconsider what is important, what is worth paying for and how decisions are being made. At a national level, why are we devoting so much public money to subsidise fossil fuels that are destroying the climate? Why are most politics determined by four-, five- or six-year electoral cycles that suit the markets but not the long-term interests of voters? Why do our economic systems make it cheaper to dump plastic in the oceans than recycle? Why do traditional beliefs of some countries encourage the slaughter of endangered animals or denial of climate science? Why are forests worth less than cropland? Why do we continue to prioritise material growth when it increasingly leads to obesity, cancer, conflict and instability?

Uncharted Territory: WHO Warns on Climate Change

The Guardian reported on the World Health Organization’s report recent assessment of record temperatures in 2016 and implications for the future. “Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research programme.

Here’s a clip:

2016 saw the hottest global average among thermometer measurements stretching back to 1880. But scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years.

2017 has seen temperature records continue to tumble, in the US where February was exceptionally warm, and in Australia, where prolonged and extreme heat struck many states. The consequences have been particularly stark at the poles.

“Arctic ice conditions have been tracking at record low conditions since October, persisting for six consecutive months, something not seen before in the [four-decade] satellite data record,” said Prof Julienne Stroeve, at University College London in the UK. “Over in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice also broke new record lows in the seasonal maximum and minimum extents, leading to the least amount of global sea ice ever recorded.”

BBC Story on Invasive Species–More to Come with Climate Migration?

BBC Newshour ran a story today on the Brown Tree Snake, an invasive species that is causing quite a problem for the ecosystem in Guam. Dr. Haldre Rogers, Assistant Professor in the
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University, calls the snake the “poster child” for invasive species and their impact. Believed to be brought over in the 1940s, the snake has since wiped out much of the local bird populations. The birds were essential to spreading the seeds of certain local trees and many of these trees are dying out. One invasive species can have a huge ripple effect on entire ecosystems.


Humans are not the only forced climate migrants. Animals are quickly losing their habitat and moving to new areas newly hospitable to them. The migration changes are altering ecosystems in ways we cannot predict–and we can assume will continue to do so as the global climate changes.


BBC Newshour 3/8/17 jump to minutes 18-23 for referenced interview.