What we’re missing in the climate-migration story

Published as an Op-Ed on Devex

The stories are stark and frequent. Climate refugees and environmental migrants are fleeing floods, droughts and rising temperatures. The World Bank predicts over 140 million people will migrate due to climate change by 2050. Governments are responding with bills to protect climate refugees.

Yes, the plight of the climate migrant is — increasingly — the tale we read today. And the story often ends with the conclusion that something needs to be done to “prevent” this movement. These narratives push the notion that moving from one’s community isn’t a natural human condition, but a worrisome new phenomenon in times of climate extremes. The result is often an over-simplistic perception of who these people are and why they’re moving.