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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: December 2013

8 - Emergent Issues in Climate and Migration Research



The past two decades have brought a considerable surge in the amount of research done on issues related to climate and human migration. Even so, this is still an area of research very much in its infancy, and the overall volume of research and number of researchers working actively in this field are small in comparison with longer-established disciplines and subdisciplines in the natural and social sciences. This final chapter reviews some of the more important emergent themes in the field, including:

How climate and migration may interact to create conditions of political instability and conflict

The interplay of climate, global food systems, migration, and household food security

The types of migration patterns and behavior that might be expected as a result of unexpected impacts or outcomes of climate change, which can be generally described as ‘climate surprises’

This chapter then concludes this book by reviewing some of the key lessons from earlier chapters, and suggests a number of areas where future research is encouraged.

Climate Change, Migration, and State Security

Military and security organizations have shown growing interest in the relationship between climate change and migration in recent years, and in several countries have actively supported research in this field. This creates an interesting opportunity for connecting climate and migration research with policy makers, for those who represent security interests typically sit at the inner circles of national and international governance, and security matters are first-order interest at cabinet tables and at the UN. The way the climate-migration relationship is approached in security research may be somewhat unfamiliar to those studying migration in traditional social science disciplines, and some scholars have raised concerns about aspects of the ‘securitization’ of climate-migration research and the types of normative assumptions sometimes made (Brown, Hammill, and McLeman 2007). Nonetheless, this is an area where greater contributions from researchers would be well received, especially empirical studies. This section summarizes the origins of the security community’s interests in climate and migration, its implications, and the opportunities for scholars to engage constructively with that community.

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