Increased heat may influence human migration

Rising temperatures due to the climate crisis are likely to influence human migration patterns, concludes a University College London study published in PLOS Climate.

In the last decade, heat waves were frequent and surface temperatures were the warmest ever recorded. As the planet warms, many people are expected to leave their homes to escape the extreme temperatures. However, the exact role of heat in human migrations is not yet known.

To clarify this relationship, the team led by Rita Issa conducted a review of research papers, annual reports, working papers, government documents, and scientific literature that examined the impact of heat on human migration or the heat experienced by migrants. throughout your journey.

Of the 32 studies that looked at how heat affects migration, half found a correlation between heat exposure and a person’s likelihood of migrating.

The vast majority of the 18 studies that evaluated the effects of heat on migrants as they traveled reported negative health repercussions, such as heat-related illness, heat stress, and premature death.

The research also indicates that people suffered more from the consequences of heat when they lived in regions with poor infrastructure, or had insufficient adaptations in the workplace, a lower educational level and a low socioeconomic status.

Findings from the new study suggest that heat likely influences human migration patterns, including when people move, the risks they face along the way, and the heat they may experience once they settle.

However, the fact that only half of the included studies found a correlation between heat and migration suggests that heat is not the only factor driving migration.

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The researchers note that there are no studies indicating a “temperature threshold” beyond which people migrate safely.

Instead, they propose developing accepted ways of comparing temperature measurements, heat effects, and environmental factors that cause migration, which they believe would support future efforts to study climate migrants and enact policy. protect them from harm.

“Migration is a valid adaptive response to extreme heat,” they add. “Part of the reason why there is no set temperature at which people will migrate is to institute adaptive measures that limit the consequences of extreme heat, as we see in places like the UEA, where air conditioning is widely used. Yet often the poorest and most marginalized remain vulnerable to extreme temperatures, including migrants.”

These conclusions offer a double opportunity for action, as they point out: “a decisive policy to limit global warming in an upward direction, through the reduction of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases; and adaptive strategies that take into account human vulnerability – encompassing urban planning, occupational accommodations, home modification and more – to help lessen the impacts of heat on human health, well-being and productivity.”

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