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Our state’s climate migration is just one small facet of global crisis

Children drew in a restaurant transformed into a shelter for those who are fleeing the war from the eastern region of the country in Dnipro, Ukraine, on April 20. The number of people forced to flee their homes has crossed the milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts and emergencies, according to the UN refugee agency.Leo Correa/Associated Press

We humans are a restless species, and over the many thousands of years of our existence, we have repeatedly migrated in search of more hospitable climates and food resources. Now, as your Nov. 13 editorial suggests, climate change may drive coastal residents to relocate to inland cities such as Worcester, particularly if affordable housing, living-wage jobs, and urban infrastructure attract them (“The great climate migration has started. Are Bay State communities ready?”).

But this local perspective is far too parochial given the magnitude of our impending climate disruption. Already 100 million people are living displaced from their homes by war and hunger, often in conjunction with climate change. As these climate-driven conflicts accelerate, the numbers of refugees worldwide could reach a billion.


Are we preparing ourselves and our children to make the material adjustments that decency and kindness will require to accommodate this massive displacement of our fellow humans? Or will we build walls, lock down our borders, and look on as migrant tragedies unfold?

Brent Whelan