Is Biden admin right ‘linkage’ between climate change and migration?


Fact Box

  • On October 21, 2021, the Biden administration released Executive Order 14013 recognizing the “linkage” between climate change and migration based upon a series of analyses from the ODNI, DCRA, and DHS.
  • According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 20 million people are forced to leave their homes due to “extreme weather events” including heavy rainfall, droughts, desertification, environmental degradation, sea-level rise, and cyclones. 
  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report on April 19, stating 2020 was “one of three warmest years on record.” The global average temperature rose 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial age temperatures. 
  • A 2019 Pew Research poll records 59% of the US population views climate change as a major threat, 23% a minor threat, and 16% as no threat. 
  • US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached a 21-year-record high of 213,534 in July 2021. August saw a slight drop of 208,887 migrant encounters.

Jani (Yes) 

The Biden administration argues that 'individual human security can decrease the likelihood of migration,' naming 'displacement in the face of insecurity' a strong deciding factor in the decision to migrate geographically. As evidenced by recent natural disasters such as the Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2020, climate-induced migration displaced more than 10,000 people. 

Climate change induces both sudden and slow-onset events, forcing millions of people to migrate annually, and these numbers are only predicted to grow. More than 10 million people have been displaced due to climate-related disasters already this year alone. While climate change is not the only driving force behind all migration, the administration recognizes 'climate-related displacement' as a major factor that needs to be addressed. 

Migration is often a direct result of climate change which impacts our national security and economic climate. Our nation's security vulnerabilities can be addressed by recognizing the link between climate change and migration. Climate-induced migration greatly increases the probability of resource scarcity, disease outbreaks, border stress, and social competition for common goods. By studying the emerging patterns and planning for future events, we can begin to fill the gaps in our country's inadequate immigration and foreign policies. 

Rather than the reactionary band-aid approach to climate change and the resulting migration, this president attempts to institute a proactive plan for the inevitable flow of human migration due to climate change. The Biden administration is making climate change, and by default immigration, central to our country's foreign policy.

Curtice (No)

The Biden administration has issued a new report linking climate change to migration, saying it poses a national security threat. This is yet another excuse in an increasingly long list of excuses the Biden administration has used to explain away its extremely poor handling of the border crisis as well as push its wealth-transferring climate change agenda.  

The surge of illegal immigrants crossing the border is certainly a national security crisis. However, it is one of Biden's own making and is not related to climate change. A study from the International Organization for Migration, which asked Guatemalan migrants why they had left their homes found the following: 77% cited better working conditions, 76% mentioned better living conditions, 39% named unemployment, and 34% cited to send home remittances. Natural disasters and climate change came in a distant fifth on the list at 20%. (Note: Study respondents could choose more than one reason.)

Also noteworthy is that natural disasters and climate change are not the same things. Natural disasters occurred long before humans populated the earth. Further, it is difficult, hysterical media headlines to the contrary that support an argument that man-made climate change makes hurricanes worse.

If climate change were the primary driver, then illegal border crossings would be inelastic. In other words, the numbers wouldn't drastically increase or decrease depending on who was in the White House. Yet, as we have seen, the illegal border crossings have dramatically increased just since Biden became president.

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