Climate and Immigration


The idea of climate refugees is still relatively new: groups of people fleeing their homelands because of extreme weather conditions that are the direct result of global warming, like drought or flooding. There’s even a fascinating new documentary called “Climate Refugees” that takes a look at the fates of “the quickly submerging islands of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, drought-affected regions of Sudan, storm-susceptible coastlines of Bangladesh, and rapidly expanding deserts in China” where people are being forced to look for new homes beyond their borders.

But I’m also interested in the idea of climate and regular immigrants. People who leave their homelands to seek a better life, economically, socially and/or politically in a more prosperous country and how the change of climate can affect their experience. If it’s a change to a warmer climate, there doesn’t seem to be as much of a shock as when immigrants relocate to colder places — the nerve-tingling freeze that never seems to get better no matter how many layers you put on and that already exacerbates, and often worsens, the cultural shock you go through.

I’ve witnessed this climate shock immigrants experience through some stories in different types of media. Here is a video of Africans who have made their home in Russia. Here is Dulce Pinzón’s Superheroes project, a photo collection I’ve featured here before, about Mexican immigrants from places like the states of Puebla, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Veracruz, stretching themselves in New York City. And here is also a radio segment about the largest Sudanese immigrant population in the United States, in Maine. How do you think you’d deal with both culture and climate shock?

Photo via Celsias

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