California, United States: What are climate migrants?

Because of the fires in California, USA, people have left their homes. Photo: AFP

Eight of the 10 largest fires were recorded in California, in the United States, after 2017. In 2020, the largest of them destroyed more than 417 thousand hectares, so many people decided Leaving the state, turning them into “climate migrants”.

“As wildfires are displacing large populations and exacerbating these fires with climate change, I think we can start to look at these large-scale displacements as part of climate migrations,” said Rebecca Miller, a researcher at the University of Southern California. Responsible for the “West on Fire” project.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a Norwegian NGO, Forest fires caused displacement, on average, for more than 200,000 people each year for the past decade. Three-quarters of these migrations occurred in The United States, the vast majority in California.

Most of these are new “Climate Migrants” Displaced by bushfires, they are returning to a place relatively close to their former home. But some, especially the elderly or families with children, may cross the country in search of a quieter life.

An example of this is the case of Jennifer Cashman and her family who They chose to move to Vermont in the northeastern United States.

“Our house and our business were completely destroyed” by the fire that in just one day left 86 dead and destroyed buildings.

“When the fires broke out, we knew we would have to give up everything, and I couldn’t live in California anymore. We had already been evacuated a few times before. I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Cashman, one of the main reasons being fear. from the flames.

  • Families are no longer resistant to the onslaught of fires in California, the United States, so they decided to leave their accommodations and switch to a firefighter, said Nina Berlin, a researcher at Stanford University. “Climate Migrants”.

We see signs of that Families are approaching a tipping point What binds them to a place can no longer resist the effects of fire and smoke. He concluded that migration is a coping strategy among many others to reduce their exposure to this type of risk

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