UN Embarrassed as “Climate Refugees” Fail to Show

It’s hardly novel to compare global warming alarmism to a doomsday cult, but it’s hard to avoid the comparison whenever yet another doomsday scenario is called off, or at least postponed. The recurring embarrassment renders doomsday cults, well….doomed, practically by definition. Now the latest such embarrassment seems bad enough to spark an exodus from the compound — or it should.

To make a long story short, 50 million “climate refugees” failed to materialize in 2010, as projected way back in 2005. Then the United Nations Environment Program deleted a map from its website illustrating where those climate migrations would occur. Then Gavin Atkins of Asian Correspondent asked, “What happened to the climate refugees?” and uncovered the map’s absence.

How could an error so large happen? Der Spiegel offers one likely explanation: sloppiness.

Scientists have been claiming for years that some 25 million people have already been displaced by adverse environmental conditions. Drought, storms and floods have always plagued parts of the world’s population. The environmentalist Norman Myers, a professor at Oxford University, has been particularly bold in his forecasts. At a conference in Prague in 2005, he predicted there would be 50 million climate refugees by 2010.

“As far back as 1995 (latest date for a comprehensive assessment), these environmental refugees totalled at least 25 million people, compared with 27 million traditional refugees (people fleeing political oppression, religious persecution and ethnic troubles),” Myers said. “The environmental refugees total could well double between 1995 and 2010.”

“When global warming takes hold,” he added, “there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” Myers’ report may have been the basis for the UN statements in 2005.

Forecasts in Doubt

But Myers’ forecasts are controversial in scientific circles. Stephen Castles of the International Migration Institute at Oxford University contradicted the horror scenarios in an interview with SPIEGEL in 2007. Myers and other scientists were simply looking at climate change forecasts and counting the number of people living in areas at risk of flooding, said Castles, author of the “The Age of Migration.” That made them arrive at huge refugee numbers.

Castles said people usually don’t respond to environmental disasters, war or poverty by emigrating abroad. That appears to be confirmed by the behavior of victims of last month’s devastating earthquake and tusnami in Japan. Many survivors are returning to rebuild their ruined towns and villages.

Of course, the climate doomsday cult will go on. What is really crazy is the how commonplace such End Times claims are now — what Spiked Online’s Brendan O’Neill aptly calls, “the unexceptionable nature of apocalyptic thinking.” (Hat tip: Margaret Griffis)