View this page in our printable booklet (PDF) here:
The asserted causes of so-called “climate refugees”— increasing crop failures, catastrophic weather events, and islands lost to rising seas— have not materialized.
Despite much fear-mongering, a majority of the islands some climate activists have predicted would be associated with producing climate refugees due to sea-level rise have had their land mass increase in recent decades, not shrink.
Nearly all of the nations that are expected to produce climate refugees due to crop failures have benefited in recent years from steadily increasing crop yields.
The United Nations confirms casualties linked to climate-related natural disasters have declined this century.
For the past 30 years, climate activists have claimed that islands, cities, and even entire nations will spawn millions of refugees as climate change makes them uninhabitable. In 1989, for example, a senior U.N. environmental official claimed, “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”1
Similarly, in 2005, the U.N. claimed, “Rising sea levels…will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade.”2
Those predictions proved to be false, along with hundreds of others made by climate change activists. To avoid embarrassment, the United Nations removed the prediction—which we reprint here, as Figure 1—of “50 million environmental refugees” from its website.3
Figure 1. U.N. Map Predicting Where 50 Million Climate Change Refugees Will Move
As documented in the Climate at a Glance article “Islands and Sea-Level Rise” (see page 30 of the book), most small islands, including the islands of Tuvalu, are growing in size, not shrinking due to rising sea levels.4 Further, nearly every
nation is benefiting from steadily increasing crop yields, which have improved in part because of recent modest warming periods.5 And the number of climate-related disasters, as well as the number of victims from those disasters, has been declining over the past 100 years, as seen in Figure 2.6 The factors that climate activists claim will soon cause numerous climate refugee crises are not present and, in many cases, are actually becoming less common and/or severe.
Figure 2. Number of Climate-Related Disasters per Year by Disaster Sub-Group, 2000–2019
- See Eric Worrall, “30 Year Anniversary of the UN 1989 ‘10 Years to Save the World’
Climate Warning,” WattsUpWithThat, June 30, 2019, https://wattsupwiththat.
- David Adams, “50 Million Environmental Refugees by End of Decade, UN Warns,” The
Guardian (U.K.), October 12, 2005, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2005/
- Anthony Watts, “The UN ‘Disappears’ 50 Million Climate Refugees, then Botches the
Disappearing Attempt,” WattsUpWithThat, April 2011, https://wattsupwiththat.
- The Heartland Institute, “Islands and Sea Level Rise,” Climate at a Glance, accessed
August 15, 2021, https://climateataglance.com/climate-at-a-glance-islands-and-sealevel-
- The Heartland Institute, “Crop Production,” Climate at a Glance, accessed August 15,
- The Global Warming Policy Foundation, “UN Disasters Report Is a Huge Blunder and
Embarrassment,” press release, October 12, 2020, https://www.thegwpf.com/undisasters-