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Experts warn of increasing migration due to climate change

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Experts have warned governments that migration is set to increase in the coming decades as climate change impacts become more frequent and intense.

According to data from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) 22 million people were displaced by extreme weather events, such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, reports Reuters. The figure is more than three times the number recorded for conflicts and the organisation notes that other years have shown an even wider ratio.

The 2013 figure is also significantly higher than the total 10 million people displaced in the early 1970s, suggesting that climate change and its effects are already influencing migration. Additionally, climate change, which can cut resources such as food and water, has the potential to increase levels of conflict, resulting in even higher levels of migration.

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs the IDMC, is reported to have said, “Natural disasters displace three to ten times more people than all conflicts and war in the world combined. Many more people in a growing population live more exposed to more extreme weather.”

In order to deal with the changes governments need to better plan how to deal with climate change immigrants, according to one expert.

Speaking to Reuters, Chaloka Beyani, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displace persons, commented, “For the future we are looking more to planned relocations for people who are prone to frequent hazards.

“We don’t have to wait until an island sinks in maybe 50 years time and an entire population vanishes. There will have to be planned movement and relocation.”

The Pacific Island Kiribati has taken unprecedented steps in purchasing land in Fiji in a bid to escape the rising sea levels that threaten the island. Kiribati finalised the purchase in July last year and will use the land to grow food, and, if necessary, relocate its population.

Ioane Teitota, a Kiribati citizen, has also attempted to ask the New Zealand High Court for asylum because rising sea levels pose a threat to him and his family. Whilst Teitiota lost his appeal, the case demonstrates how climate change could affect populations.

A study published last year found that 22,000 migrants have died trying to reach Europe since the turn of the century. Campaigners have called for refugee protection, warning that climate change may force many people to flee their country.

Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development via Flickr  

Further reading:

Mass migration and social unrest: why the west should care about climate change

Campaigners call for climate refugee protection as migrant deaths reach record high

Climate change could reduce crop yields as soon as 2030

TED talks: how architectural innovations migrate across borders – Teddy Cruz

Pacific island Kiribati buys land in Fiji to escape climate change

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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