Jeffrey D. Sachs writes in the Scientific American that the coming decades may see the mass-migration of hundreds of millions of “environmental refugees” seeking better living conditions and above all available water. It will be important to keep an eye on at least four vulnerable climate zones:
- Coastal areas. The 10% of the global population living in these areas is highly vulnerable to a rise in water levels.
- Farm regions dependent on rivers fed by snow and glacial melt. Earlier annual snowmelt is less synchronized with the summer growing season, causing potential drought and famine.
- Sub-humid and arid regions. These are set to dry further, likely sparking conflict over resources as has already happened in Darfur, Somalia, Ivory Coast and others.
- Humid areas in Southeast Asia. A more persistent El Niño cycle would mean lasting drought conditions for the 200 million people living in this region.