Rising Tides

Rising Tides

Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century
John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/6/2017
ISBN: 978-0-253-02592-0
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Global climate change is undeniable. Over the next few decades, as sea levels rise, storms intensify, and drought and desertification run rampant, hundreds of millions of civilians will abandon their homes, cities, and even entire countries. What will happen to these massive numbers of environmental refugees? Where will they go, what rights will they have, and who will take care of them?

Over 200 million people in Asian countries live on land that will be affected by rising seas. Picture Pakistan, India, and China—all nuclear powers—skirmishing at their borders over access to shared rivers and farmable land with former coastal areas now submerged. Imagine tens of thousands of Pacific and Indian Ocean islanders cast adrift by waves that have drowned their nations, and more than 100,000 Caribbean islanders forced to leave submerged towns. Consider the complete abandonment of Miami Beach and other coastal communities up and down the Americas. At the same time, hundreds of millions will be desperate for water and a secure life in drought-ravaged Africa and the Middle East.

Rising Tides sounds an urgent wakeup call to the growing crisis of climate refugees, and offers an essential, continent-by-continent look at these dangers. The crisis is everywhere and it is imminent. Detailing a number of solutions, John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins argue that no nation can tackle this universal problem alone. The crisis of climate refugees requires global, concerted solutions beyond the strategic, fiscal, and legal capability of a single country or agency.

Author Bio

John R. Wennersten is an environmental affairs writer and author of Global Thirst: Water and Society in the 21st Century.

Denise Robbins is a writer and communications expert on climate change issues in Washington, DC. A graduate of Cornell University, she regularly publishes articles dealing with all aspects of global and national environmental change, with a focus on regional politics.


"A passionately argued, well-documented wake-up call on the dire, current and undeniable human fallout from climate change. Looking behind the headlines, it connects the dots in a way that will inform and should alarm us all." —Eugene L. Meyer, author of Chesapeake Country

"This chilling and urgent call to action spares no detail in its mission to present the facts on a looming humanitarian disaster. Climate-change warning messages too often focus on the environment without going into specifics of how humans will be hurt by global warming. Rising Tides singlehandedly rectifies this issue. . . . Thanks to an equal reliance on current events and models, as well as the authors’ thorough understanding of geopolitics, the case is beyond convincing." —Foreword Reviews

"Rising Tides deals masterfully with a neglected crisis, how climate change is driving migration. The discussion of the interrelationship between conflict-driven migration and climate-driven migration is fascinating. The crisis is upon us: Many of the Mediterranean displaced people are climate refugees, not conflict refugees. Some are both. The work is easily grasped by the general reader, and its source material is a gold mine for interested experts. Wennersten and Robbins don’t shy away from grim conclusions: The climate refugees aren’t going home, and the global community needs to accommodate them. The work broaches solutions both practical, like reforestation, and political, like the need for a new international charter for handling non-conflict refugees." —Christopher E. Goldthwait, US Ambassador retired

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Table of Contents


Part 1
Climate Refugees in the 21st Century
Introduction – Rising Tide: Climate Refugees in the 21st Century
Chapter 1: Seeking Shelter From the Storm
Chapter 2: Refugeedom

Part 2
Pressure Points and Regional Analysis
Chapter 3: What Happens When Your Country Drowns?
Chapter 4: The Crisis Hits Home: Climate Refugees In The United States
Chapter 5: Latin America: Land Of Rain, Land Of Thirst
Chapter 6: Africa: Environmental Conflicts In A War-Torn Land
Chapter 7: Middle East: The Boiling Point Of Climate Change And National Security
Chapter 8: Asia: The Looming Crisis

Part 3
Policy Implications and Conclusions
Chapter 9: Current Affairs and Climate Refugees
Chapter 10: The Shape Of Things To Come