Heat not Wet: Climate Change Effects on Human Migration in Rural Pakistan
anthropogenic global warming
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AbstractThe 2010 floods were among the worst that Pakistan has experienced in recent decades. Sadly, the country is prone to recurrent flooding, which means that in any given year, Pakistani farmers hope and pray that the floods will not be as bad as those in 2010. It would be natural to assume that recurring flood disasters force Pakistani farmers to give up farming and migrate to the cities in order to make ends meet. But a recent study (3) published in the journal Nature Climate Change by Valerie Mueller at the International Food Policy Research Institute has identified the actual driver of migration among rural Pakistanis: heat. Mueller and colleagues analyzed the migration and weather patterns in rural Pakistan from 1991 to 2012 and found that flooding had a modest to insignificant effect on migration whereas extreme heat was clearly associated with migration. The researchers found that bouts of heat wiped out a third of the income derived through farming! In Pakistan, the average monthly rural household income is 20,000 rupees (4) (roughly $200), which is barely enough to feed a typical household consisting of 6 or 7 people. It is no wonder that when heat stress reduces crop yields and this low income drops by one third, farming becomes untenable, and rural Pakistanis are forced to migrate and find alternate means to feed their families. Mueller and colleagues also identified the group that was most likely to migrate: rural farmers who did not own the land they were farming. Not owning the land makes them more mobile, but compared to the landowners, these farmers are far more vulnerable in terms of economic stability and food security when a heat wave hits. Migration may be the last resort for their continued survival.
Rehman, Jalees. Heat not Wet: Climate Change Effects on Human Migration in Rural Pakistan. 3Quarksdaily, 2014. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2014/12/heat-not-wet-climate-change-effects-on-human-migration-in-rural-pakistan.html