Ingrid Boas features in NRC article on climate migration

Published on
April 1, 2021

Dr. Ingrid Boas features in NRC article on climate migration Dr. Ingrid Boas, Associate Professor at ENP and an expert in climate mobility and migration is interviewed for a recent NRC article by Marcel aan den Brugh, 'The climate is changing. Do people float adrift or adapt without will?'


Climate migration misconceptions

The often-portrayed image of climate migrants marching towards the West in a huge numbers is a false one, scientists say. While several think tanks, NGOs and politicians often further this narrative, it's a big simplification of reality.  

In this article Ingrid explains how these misconceptions are often based on “very simple calculations” and tend to assume that all climate affected simply want to “come here.”  

For instance, what is found is that drought doesn't always lead to more migration. Sometimes it leads to less. Other scientists who are interviewed further emphasize the great variation in people's motivations to migrate.

Ingrid also refers to the often-neglected role of human agency and our ability to adapt. She states, “I don't want to downplay the danger of climate change, but we have the wrong idea that people are at the mercy of the threat, as if they have no agency ." Instead, it is important to understand varying and diverse realities of climate mobility that are so different to the dominant narrative.  

Climate migration myths

In making these points, the interview builds on an earlier intervention by Ingrid, made in Nature Climate Change over a year ago, which she wrote together with 30 co-authors. It argues how the narrative of climate mass migration is nothing short of a myth. The intervention critiques the tendency of policy and media to frame climate migration as a security threat instead of being critically investigated in its knowledge gaps.

What is there to learn about climate migration?

The NRC article delves into the more nuanced perspectives of studying human migration and climate change. And their accumulated interviews are summarized through the perspective of 5 lessons:

  • Lesson 1: It is never climate alone
  • Lesson 2: Most of migration is domestic
  • Lesson 3: Migration can also be positive
  • Lesson 4: It is not the poorest who migrate
  • Lesson 5: Human adaptation remains out of the picture  

This article is contributes to a strongly needed critical eye towards seeing beyond the cliché 'mass climate migration' narrative…and understanding that reality is much more complex.