The Missing Fifty Million

Fifty million people—the equivalent population of Burma, South Korea, Spain or South Africa—they’ve gone. Vanished. Or perhaps, more precisely, they’ve been disappeared.

That’s the number of “climate refugees” by 2010 that the United Nations Environment Programme forecast in its 2005 report, a prediction picked up this week by Sydney blogger Gavin Atkins, and thence Anthony Watts. As you can see from the report’s map (click it to enlarge), these millions were supposed to have poured by now out of the deltas of the Nile, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong and Yangtze rivers, together with pretty much every island in the Pacific and Indian oceans and some place labelled “Caribbian”. All victims of sea level rises. Oh yes, and everyone living above about 65°N will have fled the melting permafrost. And the entire population of Japan will have emigrated by now, pursued by raging hurricanes. Doesn’t that add up to more than fifty million people?

My personal favourite is the proclaimed climate exodus from my old stamping grounds in central-west New South Wales and central Queensland, also supposed to have occurred by last year. Due to desertification, apparently. I’m tickled pink trying to imagine the stampede of climate refugees fleeing Maria Island off Tasmania’s east coast—a mountainous island with no permanent inhabitants. And I’m mighty relieved to discover that Darwin, the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory, is not in an area “exposed to hurricanes”. The UNEP had better tell them soon, before they spend too much money on useless precautions.

Well, 2010 has been and gone. And it appears that the UNEP figure of 50 million climate refugees has overstated the true figure by about… oh, by about 50 million.

Now, we all make mistakes. What counts is how you deal with them. So: did the UNEP do the honest thing—issue a press release saying something like, “Oops, we goofed. Uhh, there weren’t any climate refugees this year. Sorry about the false alarm. But we’d really like our funding levels maintained, or ideally increased, because you never know—all those climate refugees just might re-appear by 2015”?

Not on your Nelly, they didn’t. Instead, they have been busy in an Orwellian exercise of re-writing history, deleting the map from its website. As of today (17 April) you can still view the Google cache of the old page here. The UNEP would have you believe that they never made such erroneous predictions in the first place! I guess it goes into the same never-happened basket as other failed UN predictions of Global Warming, sea level rise, increases in hurricanes, and on, and on, and on…

The original page granting permission to reproduce this “map”, requests that acknowledgement be made to the cartographer, a certain Emmanuelle Bournay. I do so, though with some trepidation. The author’s rather embarrassing inability to grasp some of the most basic facts about world physical geography in this pastel-shaded blather makes the acknowledgement, I suspect, more of an unwelcome reminder. My father, a cartographer and a perfectionist, an old-school craftsman who worked freehand in the pre-computer age and whose maps were minor works of art, would be spinning in his grave right about now.

UPDATE 19-Oct-2013 Well, the stampede has finally begun: one climate refugee.

Well, sort of…

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21 Responses to The Missing Fifty Million

  1. Otter says:

    Found you by way of your comment at WUTS, Added!

    Keep on the heat!

    G’day Otter, welcome aboard – Oz

  2. Luton Ian says:

    Thanks for linking to that [not so] little lot.

    I’m pleased someone remembered about the prediction.

    My memory let me down on it, I’m not sure whether the cause is mad cow disease, that iceberg image from the eighties with AIDS written on it, pthalates etc that mimic oestrogen, my collection of mercury amalgam fillings…(crisis du jour)…

    I’m wondering how the Domesday cult of Green is going to mature. In its present form it appears to consist of wannabe [un]wise counsel to dictators. The sort of counsel that tries to ingratiate itself by offering pretexts for immoral and unlawful behaviour – to save the world – of course.

    Lesser ends, the sort that ruling elites have always looked for pretexts to achieve, like plundering more taxes and privileges, of interfering in any and every aspect of life, and to achieve greatness and fame through “great works”, while limiting the freedom of the peons; to criticise, to move around and to resist, well, that would just be cynical tyranny…

    What I haven’t noticed yet is an attempt to establish a full blown greenist utopia. I suppose we’ve seen hippy protest camps, but the big attempts so far seem to have all been green progressives’ attempts to provide the “moral equivalent of war” in the form of crises and Domesday predictions, rather than any bands of green Bolsheviks.

    I’m not saying that I want to see a green version of the Cenderro Luminoso, or Taliban, but it puzzles me that we haven’t.

    Perhaps I move in the wrong circles, but I don’t get to meet any grass roots greens. They all seem to have a job that depends on them being a believer, or else they have accepted what the MSM and the education system tells them.

    Is there a grass roots?

    I love all the volcanic island chains “some of which may disappear completely”, and “permafrost” extending down almost to Vancouver Island. Looks like he forgot to add “Here be monsters”


  3. izen says:

    Its a lousy map – part of that ‘new educational graphics style’ from the millennium – and rather dated then.
    The 50million claim isn’t on the map – just shows what sort of climate change effect different areas may be susceptible to – but I gather such extreme statements were made by UN people. Its unclear whether such self-evident alarmism made it into an official paper on migration at the time.

    The most recent UN stuff –

    Click to access Int_Migration_Human_Rights.pdf

    – is apparently more circumspect. It reports over 20million new refugees/migrants since 2005, but doesn’t go into detail or breakdown of causes that I can find.
    It has this to say about AGW and migration –
    “These environmental changes will occur slowly over a long period of time with small but cumulative manifestations. While predictions of the number, characteristics and location of people who would be forced or choose to migrate as a result of these processes still need to be refined using new methodologies to estimate flows, figures will be on the increase, with millions more vulnerable people on the move. ”

    Most migrants can be classified as ‘economic’, but that usually ignores the reason it is economic to move….
    I would agree climate is a minor factor at present, most seems to be down to an exodus from subsistence agriculture to industrial production – on an international scale rather than just local. The rest is flight from the various resource wars.

    The latest report may not make any rash predictions about numbers of migrant due to one cause or another, but you have to smile at its naive idealism at the exhortations that ‘Human Rights’ have to apply equally to ALL migrants everywhere….

    You’re touching on an issue that’s very topical here in Australia at the moment, Izen. Almost every week, boatloads of “refugees” are arriving at our Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef, demanding humanitarian asylum. Most are from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, all of them have paid their life’s savings to some grubby trafficker in those countries in exchange for a seat on a leaky boat which may or may not sink en route. They have bypassed many other relatively peaceful countries in making the long journey in order to seek refugee status in wealthy Australia, and the ones who make it have typically destroyed their papers by the time they are processed by our Customs officials in these remote outposts.

    None of them are claiming they are “climate refugees”, and no-one (that I’m aware of) is claiming this on their behalf, but the circumstances of their arrival lend weight to the overwhelming suspicion that they are economic refugees rather than victims of war and oppression. It’s a thread in itself, so I’ll leave it at that. But the fact remains that it’s 2011, and Australia hasn’t seen any climate refugees yet – Oz

  4. Luton Ian says:

    Any room down there for economic migrants from the Emerald PIIG? There’s a mining boom going on down here ya drip – get yer geological arse down here to the Pilbara ASAP 😉

    Seriously, though, there’s a chronic shortage of geologists Down Under at the moment; a young family stops me doing this at present (though we’ve given it some thought). But a guy with the right qualifications who’s prepared to move about and doesn’t mind spartan digs can make some really serious money right now. It’s like the wild west out there – Oz

    Irish .gov bonds are now rated one point above “junk”, I gather the Portuguese ones have actually got there. I suspect that zimbabwification can’t be too far away now.

    Much as I’m questioning the work and reputation of Adam Smith (especially for his espousal of a Calvinist “labour” theory of value), I do agree, in part with his idea that an economy develops as far as that country’s “laws and customs allow”.

    I would certainly be looking at average IQ and the SD of that distribution as components of economic development potential too, but even ignoring them, the “laws and customs” explanation would nicely sum up the abysmal economic performance of the moslem majority countries

    – and we are operating “multi – culturalism” (or should that be a combination of state enforced dhimmitude and keynesianism)!

  5. Luton Ian says:

    The good lady did quite a lot of work with refugees from the Kosovo war. The thugs with the boats would throw all of their premium fare paying passengers overboard if they thought a patrol was coming near.

    She had one man who’s whole family had been sliced up by the prop, and many more who’d had family members drown.

    I wonder how many would be migrants ended up on the transplant organs black market?

    She also went on a few aid deliveries into Albania itself, and both the aid deliveries and the refugees had to pay Albanian thugs every few hundred metres along the road. Lovely culture, eh?

  6. Kitler says:

    Oz would it not be best to settle your economic migrants out in the Great Western Desert get them digging coal with pick and shovel put the kiddies and women to work as well. If they can put up with 20 years of hard back breaking labour then they can become citizens as long as they leave the religion on the boat as well. When news gets out about this you may see the lazy buggers think twice about making the trip.
    You may want to tell Jooleeya that paying them massive benefits is only encouraging more of them to make the trip.

    (Sigh) we’ve tried, mein katzenführer, we’ve tried…

    On another topic, has there been a nuclear war at Knotted Prop and no-one’s told me? – Oz

  7. Kitler says:

    Oz I wonder if my daughter in law counts as a climate refugee she’s from the Pribilof’s near to mainland Alaska she’s fled to Minnesota for the warmth (still snowing there this week). However the rest of her family are still on the island’s.

  8. Kitler says:

    ozboy no been in a slump and rather busy my PC took a dive and just repaired it again, I do have an idea tonight though and could be fun.

  9. Kitler says:

    ozboy here is something new….
    It’s a chance to extract the urine any which way anyone wants and with any parody’s you can find.

    That, sir, is a gauntlet thrown. And I pick it up – Oz

  10. Dr. Dave says:


    Forgive me if I smirk at Australia’s immigrant “crisis”. At least yours have to get on a boat. Good topic for the future BTW.

    Yeah, our problem is about three orders of magnitude smaller than yours. If the higher estimates are correct, there’s one Australia’s worth of illegal immigrants in the States, or about one in every fifteen inhabitants. Maybe you should write the thread – Oz 😯

  11. fenbeagle says:

    The climate must be pretty bad in Poland at the moment. As we have lots of immigrants in this region, from there. But the alarmists do threaten this region with floods, so I guess they were right. (I just thought it would involve water.)

  12. Luton Ian says:

    I do like the Poles,

    a racist statement, I know, but there you go.

    The Irish couldn’t have been luckier with their main source of migrants; same colour, same religion, hard working. There’s only one problem, their females:

    The Polish girls are a very different shape to the Irish ones, they don’t wear tracksuit bottoms and don’t seem to get blind drunk in public either… – strange.

    The previous place we lived, all of the neighbours seemed to have wives / girlfriends from different parts of the world. There was a rather nice Czech girl amongst them. Apparently the Czechs (along with Lithuanians etc) really do not like Poles, something to do with invasions.

  13. fenbeagle says:

    ….’and don’t seem to get blind drunk in public either.’
    The Poles here do. But I’ve only seen males do this. (So perhaps you are right.)

  14. Kitler says:

    The Polish women I have met are very pretty but you really can’t beat a red headed heavily freckled drunken bad tempered Irish woman for entertainment.

  15. fenbeagle says:

    … really can’t beat a red headed heavily freckled drunken bad tempered Irish woman for entertainment. Beat her for any reason, little beagle, and you’ll come off second best. Fighting is one thing the Irish do know how to do. Especially when they’re drunk – Oz 😀

    I used to live opposite a large Irish lady that fitted that description (actually, she was also rather nice) She was married to a small Iranian, that frowned on drunkenness and frivolity……(The marriage didn’t last.)

  16. Kitler says:

    fenbeagle…at least the Irish know how to have a fun time. I just remember bedsit land while at college we had a nice Irish lady and her Cockney boyfriend, oh the rows they had, always seemed much better for it the next day. As I said entertaining.

  17. fenbeagle says:

    Oz…..That lady was quit formidable, I wouldn’t have dreamed of it. I found myself in complete agreement with her on any of a range of subjects. Poor Mohammed (name changed to protect the innocent) Righto – Oz 🙂

  18. Luton Ian says:

    Looks like a few of them just demonstrated what sort of cultural enrichment(TM) they’re bringing you.

    Back in the ’70s when emigration from Britain to Australia cost £10 (or was it £5?), I seem to remember that the folks had to go where the authorities sent them, So after they’d seen the pictures in books, the reality was somewhere like Wyala or Mount Isa, or worse, for however many years.

    Still, I bet you’ve got enriched(TM) districts in some of the big cities now that would make a fly infested small town in the bush seem like heaven?

    Hold that thought Ian (and everyone else); I’m working on a new post on immigration – give me 24 hrs – Oz

  19. Dr. Dave says:

    24 hours from when?

    Say another 8 hours from now (your comment date stamp). I’d do it sooner, but I’m scrubbing and sterilizing my beer fermenters today – Oz

  20. Dr. Dave says:


    I understand. Priorities are priorities.

  21. Pingback: Libertarianism And Immigration | Be Responsible – Be Free!

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