>Iraq Refugees

Reflecting on the sobering refugee crisis in the Middle East, faculty fellow and Cornell Lab of Ornithology director of conservation science Amanda Rodewald calls for action and asks: Are we ready to meet the needs of environmental migrants?  

Cresting Wave of Migrants Demands Global Response

September 21, 2015

>Iraq Refugees

Reflecting on the sobering refugee crisis in the Middle East, faculty fellow and Cornell Lab of Ornithology director of conservation science Amanda Rodewald calls for action and asks: Are we ready to meet the needs of environmental migrants? 

Those of us who study birds know this time of year as a season for migration. In a spectacle of nature, millions of birds have begun long and arduous journeys — across continents and spanning thousands of miles — to wintering areas in the tropics. On the human front, we are experiencing a more sobering version of migration as well, as hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and elsewhere are fleeing in search of hope and better futures for themselves and their families. Even here at home, debates are raging about how we should address the challenges and opportunities associated with migration.

And yet in terms of sheer numbers, we are likely seeing only the crest of the wave. As Secretary of State John Kerry said at the recent conference for Global Leadership in the Arctic:

We as leaders of countries will begin to witness what we call climate refugees moving — you think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there's an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival.

"Environmental refugees," "environmental migrants," "climate refugees" — these terms describe situations where environmental changes, either sudden or progressive in nature, adversely affect people in ways that compel them to leave their homes . . . Read more