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  • Writer's pictureAlperen Kürsat Demirbag

Understanding Migrants and the Imminent Danger: Climate Migration

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

It is a fact known by almost everyone that global warming is a reality that threatens our future and our world. We are aware of the dangers of natural disasters such as melting glaciers, evaporation of large amounts of water, and storms caused by strong winds caused by pressure differences. However, in addition to these natural hazards and the damage we do to mother nature, there are also a series of sociological dangers brought by global warming, and climate migration. Imagine that a country or geography has become completely uninhabitable. These people will seek new settlements with mass migration.


Well, are the developed countries that are likely to receive immigration prepared for such a mass migration movement?

Of course, this question may be asked in terms of economic, social, religious, and many other factors. But in this opinion paper, I have discussed climate migration in sociological and cultural contexts. So far, migrations have been experienced due to conflicts and similar tragic reasons throughout the world. People may migrate due to wars, the lack of security, or the lack of resources needed to survive. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people, legally or illegally, immigrate to countries with better conditions with the dream of a better life. Unfortunately, this dream does not always turns out as desired.


Photo by Roi Dimor on Unsplash


When we look at the sending countries, we see that the living conditions in these countries are not good in general. Either there is an environment of conflict and a population ruled by an oppressive regime, or the life quality is quite low. Of course, it would not be rational to expect society to be sufficiently developed in such countries. According to data published by the OECD, “27% of immigrants in the OECD are educated at low levels and 11% at very low levels, compared to 26% and 7% of indigenous people. The immigrant population is even less educated in Europe: A third across the EU are low-educated, increasing to 39% among non-EU immigrants, compared to 23% of indigenous-born."


In addition to being uneducated, having different cultural norms, and experiencing difficulties during adaptation to the social structure of the location they have migrated in are causing a lot more trouble to them and the local people of the country.


As I mentioned above, some of the refugees experience difficulties in keeping up with the social norms of the country they migrated to, or sometimes they do not want to adapt.


These immigrants are afraid of being corrupted and losing their cultural values and social norms.

Although this seems like a natural reaction when we consider the evolutionary process, the identity crisis experienced by refugees and the acculturation strategy they prefer has been seen as an important factor affecting this situation.


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


So, what is the acculturation strategy? There are 4 acculturation strategies. (Saygın and Hasta, 2018) These are assimilation, separation, integration, and marginality. If an individual who is a member of a minority group does not preserve his own cultural identity and adopts the culture and characteristics of the mainstream society, it means that the individual has chosen the strategy of 'assimilation'. On the contrary, if the individual tries to preserve his own culture and does not interact with mainstream society, the individual has chosen the strategy of 'segregation'. If the individual adopts the culture of the mainstream society while maintaining his own culture, the individual has adopted the strategy of 'integration'.


John W. Berry drew attention to the importance of harmony and reconciliation in the integration strategy and emphasized that in this strategy, individuals should have a belief in living together despite all the differences.(Saygın and Hasta, 2018)

The last acculturation strategy, 'marginalization', occurs when the individual does not try to protect his own culture and does not attach importance to it, and does not want to communicate with the other group. Although John W. Berry developed this model later, it is okay to give this model as an example since we examine the behavior of refugees. As we exemplify the acculturation strategies of refugees, we learned about the instincts that cause the refugees' behavior. However, it seems that refugees who do not voluntarily migrate, that is, "forced to migrate", prefer the strategy of either separation or integration. Since the refugee rate in developed countries is low, it is not difficult to maintain order.


What about climate migrants? Although climate migrants are not yet legally classified as refugees, millions of people are expected to migrate in the 21st century due to climate change.


Global warming affects some geographies more than others and its consequences can be severe. To give an example, 25 people died due to high temperatures in India this May 2022 alone. As can be understood from this example, the more severe consequences of the climate crisis in the coming years may cause mass migration movements. If it becomes very difficult to live in some geographies due to global warming, people living in these geographies will prefer to migrate to places with better living conditions.


Again, the regions most affected by the climate crisis will be the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Unfortunately, in such a crisis, the probability of an orderly migration is low.


Since these migration movements will be mass migration movements, the problems that this situation will bring will be on a larger scale than the refugee problems I mentioned before. How can a new world order be achieved in such a situation?


If life comes to a standstill in countries that will be hit hard by the climate crisis, not accepting these people as refugees will be no different than leaving them to die.

Of course, these people need to be accepted as refugees, but it is necessary to start working now to solve the social turmoil created by this mass migration movement. It is also necessary to raise awareness and educate people in order to prevent conflicts that may arise from ethnic differences. In this case, countries with a high probability of receiving immigration bear a great responsibility.



According to my prediction, the mass migration movements brought about by the climate crisis can result in two different ways. Both refugees and locals can cause conflicts due to their ethnic differences. Or, by raising awareness of both local people and refugees, social order is ensured. That's why it is necessary to develop strategies to ensure social order when such a massive migration has been experienced. Indigenous people need to be informed and educated so that refugees can adapt easier. But unfortunately, the upcoming process still seems to be difficult.


I believe, there is only one way to survive such a major crisis; to overcome our differences, celebrate the variety we have instead of judging, and accept each other as the way we are.


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