Thursday, January 7, 2010

Environmental Refugees and Land Use

Here's another gem I stored up during the holiday break - a very interesting story from The New York Times about how refugees from environmental disasters struggle in urban environments. As I mentioned in a previous post, migration issues are a side interest of mine.  While some laud increased urbanization as a way to reduce the environmental impact of subsistence farming, this article shows that urban life has a high social and economic toll on individuals.  To my mind shantytowns are not a more environmentally friendly than subsistence farming - and living in these close quarters certainly leads to the spread of disease

When I was doing immigration work in the 1990s the biggest cause of migration was regional wars and ethnic conflict.  Now it's migration due to climate change.  The global migration system (if there is such a thing) seems just as unable to respond to this refugee crisis as it has been to previous ones.  In this case the issue is a lack of housing and other infrastructure to accept the influx of internally displaced people moving to the cities with no resources or social networks to assist them.  This will be one of the great challenges of this decade.  Who is teaching, thinking, and writing about this issue?  We'd love to hear from you.

Jamie Baker Roskie

Development, Housing, Planning | Permalink

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