Nearly 30 years ago, the term “environmental refugee” came into regular use, and today’s incarnation – the “climate change refugee” – continues to provoke popular and political interest. Using the term “environmental/climate refugee” to describe people who move for environmental reasons (e.g. drought, flooding, pollution, natural disasters) has, however, sparked numerous debates. The disputes are partially related to the fact that the legal definition of a refugee does not include protection for people displaced by the environment. In addition, it can be difficult to disentangle environmental from other motivations for migration, such as economic and political ones. Continue reading
Humanity is approaching an historic transformation. Towards the end of the 21st century the world’s population will very possibly begin to decline in number, and East Asia is in the vanguard (Figure 1). This is being achieved in nearly all countries not via coercion, but voluntarily, as female emancipation and education, urbanisation, and economic development spread across the world, lifestyles and life choices change, and medical knowledge and technologies advance.
Observing contemporary demography trends one might be forgiven for thinking that no previous times have been as radical and fast changing as ours. Demographers have noted with amazement the pace of Iran’s fertility decline in recent years, and we are witnessing unprecedented population ageing and are advised to prepare for radical changes in the welfare states of “old” Europe. When looking to a more distant European past we may find no less amazing societal and demographic changes.