NBC: Climate Change Driving Migration from Central America

February 19, 2021

NBC News:

As the Earth continues to warm, climate disasters are getting more extreme. In 2020, the impact was on vivid display with record-shattering wildfires in the western U.S. and the historic Atlantic hurricane seasonPaidAd By TBD MediaGlobal Thought LeadersHow will your life be changed by the business leaders shaping the world of tomorrow?

Destroying homes and livelihoods, these types of events often act as triggers, leaving people with little choice but to move, especially if they were already socially or economically vulnerable. This phenomenon is called climate migration and it is becoming more common because of human-caused climate change

This past autumn we witnessed the beginning of what may be one of the most straightforward examples of climate-induced migration in Central America. Around 10,000 people have already attempted to migrate northward after two devastating storms hit, and many more are planning to leave soon.

In November, Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota, both catastrophic Category 4 hurricanes, made landfall two weeks and only 15 miles apart, near Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. They were two of the most intense storms of the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history. 

With winds of 150 mph and devastating flooding from torrential rains, the storms impacted 6 million people, destroyed thousands of homes and displaced nearly 600,000 in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. With little to no government assistance, many of those displaced are living in shelters with little food. As of early January, the Red Cross reported 250,000 were still in emergency shelters throughout the region.

It’s not only housing and food that are in short supply; many people have also lost their livelihoods. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Honduras estimates that up to 80% of the agricultural sector was decimated by the storms — an industry that, as of 2020, provided one-third of the country’s employment.

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