Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The Climate Implications of the Migrant Caravan

Climate
Thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. cross from Guatemala into Mexico. John Moore / Getty Images

The U.S. military will send as many as 5,000 troops to the country's Southern border to meet thousands of refugees and migrants who are traveling north through Mexico from Central America, The Independent reported Monday.


The group of thousands grew out of 160 people who gathered at a bus stop in the crime-plagued Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 12, BBC News explained. News of the plan spread on social media, and, by the next day, the group had reached 1,000 members.

The migrants are heading north for a variety of reasons, from unemployment to violence. But one of the underlying causes is climate change.

"Central America, in general, has had chronic impacts of climate change," Oxfam Guatemala Country Director Ana María Mendez Libby told Earther.

That's because of drought and irregular rainfall in something called the Dry Corridor, a region in the lowlands of Central America along the Pacific coast. Migration from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has rapidly increased in the past 10 years, which coincides with a period of drought that has cost the three countries around 700,000 acres in corn and bean crops just this year.

A study led by the UN World Food Program found that the drought, rather than violence, was the driving factor causing people to leave the region to seek food and work elsewhere, National Geographic reported.

While scientists still don't know how much the current drought, driven primarily by an increasingly erratic El Niño cycle, can be blamed on man-made climate change, experts with experience in the region know the current weather patterns are more extreme than in the past.

"We still have some ways to go before we can conclude scientifically that what we're seeing now is outside the normal. But if you go out to the field and ask anybody if this is normal, everybody says no," Center for the Study of the Environment and Biodiversity at the Universidad del Valle in Guatemala Director Edwin Castellanos told National Geographic.

Guatemalan farmer Eduardo Méndez López has suffered from that not-normalcy first hand.

"This is the worst drought we've ever had," Méndez López, who saw none of the corn he planted this year flourish, told National Geographic. "We've lost absolutely everything. If things don't improve, we'll be forced to migrate somewhere else. We can't go on like this."

Even if the current drought is not caused by man-made climate change, future ones will be. Guatemala ranks among the 10 most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, according to National Geographic.

"The next migrants are going to be climate migrants," El Salvador's Environment and Natural Resources Minister Lina Pohl told reporters at a conference, AFP reported.

That means that the Trump administration's militarized response to current migrants does not bode well for how it will treat the climate refugees of the future.

"A quasi-fascist policy of fear-mongering about immigration and corresponding militarization of the border is clearly the major thrust of Trump's response to the mounting impacts of climate chaos," Ashley Dawson, author of Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change, told The Huffington Post.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less