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Kate Jongbloed

Climate Refugees: 5 facts about the human faces of climate change

Kate Jongbloed

Quick, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “climate change”? For many people, it is shrinking glaciers and endangered species.

But the changing environment also has a human face. Here are five facts that you might not know about how climate change is affecting girls and their families all over the world.

1. People are being pushed out of their homes by droughts, floods, rising sea levels, soil erosion, desertification, and storms. These people are often referred to as “climate refugees”.

2. The term “refugee” isn’t exactly accurate, though. Refugees are typically fleeing their countries. Most people displaced by environmental changes migrate within their own countries. Click here to learn about the difference between refugee and internally displaced persons.

3. Extreme climate change can leave families economically devastated by damaging the way they earn money, money they need to buy food and send their children to school. For example, when a hurricane or flood destroys a harvest, farmers are left without an income.

4. Climate disasters add additional pressure to cities and towns, because climate refugees from rural areas struggling to make ends meet move into urban areas.

5. Girls and women are extra vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Their ability to secure water, food, and energy for cooking/heating is put into jeopardy when climate change makes these resources harder to get. If they’re forced to move into cities and towns, they are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. Girls’ status in society also prevents them from having a voice in discussions and decisions about the environment.

Bangladesh’s climate change refugees

Bangladesh is one of the places hardest hit by climate change because of its huge population and susceptibility to extreme climate events, like floods.

What is one way the climate has changed in your lifetime?