Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
The mainstream media often cites Hurricanes Eta (a devastating Category 4 hurricane that caused heavy damage in early November 2020) and Iota (it underwent explosive intensification and became a rare Category 5 hurricane in mid-November) as a major factor driving the migration to the U.S. Southwestern border. But these stories about the border crisis, which have dominated news coverage for the last week, are only now beginning to discuss the connection to climate change. CNN and Axios in recent days explained that those rare, late-season monster storms left hundreds of thousands homeless and jobless in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras and that, along with COVID, many of them had no choice but to migrate.
To be clear, there are other factors causing the mass migration to be sure, including corruption, gang violence, and poverty generally in addition to the pandemic and storms. However, warming waters in the Gulf of Mexico created the conditions that allowed both storms to intensify to the most severe wind and rain levels even But the storms left many homeless — the severity of the storms, which was worsened by climate change, according to Kayly Ober, program manager of Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program “wrought a level of destruction that was unheard of in some parts of the region.” CNN explained that “Flooding wiped entire communities off the map in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Homes were destroyed. Millions of people were affected, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.” Many families were barely scraping by, “facing food shortages and pervasive violence,” said Meghan López, the International Rescue Committee’s regional vice president for Latin America. “The hurricanes were…the last in the series of what was a devastating year,” Lopez told CNN. But in a long-form story in The Washington Post on why the migrants are crossing the border, climate change is barely mentioned.
Building Back Better the US Refugee Program
The President issued an Executive Order on February 4 on rebuilding the Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) taking climate refugees into consideration. The President ordered the relevant agencies to report back within 180 days on “options for protection and resettlement of individuals displaced directly or indirectly from climate change; mechanisms for identifying such individuals, including through referrals; proposals for how these findings should affect use of United States foreign assistance to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.”
No International Legal Framework for Climate Refugees
The U.S. is not alone in being unprepared for climate refugees. As Axios reported, “the international refugee system — which was built in the aftermath of World War II — was set up to address conflict and political persecution, which means that no legal framework exists for climate refugees.” And refugees tend to move within their countries first and end up in ill-equipped urban areas, where they push government services and resources to their limits but are unable to get on their feet. That’s when they opt to move beyond their own borders and become part of international migration.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Last Thursday, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) introduced the Orphaned Wells Cleanup and Jobs Act of 2021 which would authorize nearly $8 billion in grant funding for abandoned oil and gas well cleanup projects across the nation. Methane emissions from abandoned wells threaten to derail President Biden’s climate goals, but dozens of […]
By Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way For years, climate news has offered one of the best doomscrolling fixes, up there with the pandemic and Donald Trump’s assault on democracy. But we’ve finally entered an era when the good news on climate is starting to outweigh the […]
Special Presidential Envoy on Climate (or “SPEC”) Kerry is engaging with key nations this week in the run-up to the Global Summit in two weeks. In India yesterday he met with Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who reaffirmed his government’s commitment to its Paris pledges, including increasing its non-fossil fuel power capacity to 40% and substantially boosting forest cover to reduce CO2. Kerry visits Bangladesh today.
Why This Matters: Kerry is using these visits to try to elicit elevated commitments from other major emitters — China and India.
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.