The World Bank has transformed itself from an international financial institution into a prophet of climate fallout, predicting in a new report that more than 143 million people will be forced to migrate by 2050 thanks to climate change.
In its report, titled “Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration,” the World Bank declares that internal migration will be an even more serious problem than international migration, as “droughts, failing crops, rising sea levels, and storm surges” drive tens of millions to uproot from their homes and resettle in other areas of their region.
Focusing on three regions — Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America – the report warns that “unless urgent climate and development action is taken, these three regions could be dealing with a combined total of over 140 million internal climate migrants by 2050.”
The choice of verbs used by the bank is especially telling, with the institution continually referring to the report’s “findings,” as if prognostication of future climate patterns and their effects on human society were something that could be “found” rather than guessed at.
To lay out a forecast with such exactitude—143 million persons by the year 2050—would be better described as “inventing” than “finding,” given that the chances that the predictions will be correct are close to zero.
Reminiscent of late-night television advertising urging viewers to “act now” to benefit from some enticing but quickly expiring deal, the World Bank immediately turns to its political message.
“But there is still a way out: with concerted action – including global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, combined with robust development planning at the country level –the number of people forced to move due to climate change could be reduced by as much as 80 percent – or 100 million people,” the Bank’s website breathlessly announces.
All that is missing is an offer of a set of free kitchen knives and no-stick muffin tins to make the deal absolutely irresistible.
Turning to an argument from authority, the World Bank’s Chief Executive Office, Kristalina Georgieva, gives you her personal word that time is running out for taking the necessary steps to prepare for the massive migrant upheaval.
“We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality,” Ms. Georgieva declares. “Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends.”
“It’s also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable,” she adds.
In the full-color graphic of the report, the Bank speaks with even greater certitude, assuring readers that “by 2050—if no action is taken—there will be more than 143 million internal climate migrants” across the regions examined in the report. Gone are the tenuous “may be’s” and “could be’s,” giving way to the far more confident “will be.”
“The poorest people will be forced to move due to slow-onset climate change impacts,” the report states in language more commonly used for cancer patients. These impacts will include “decreasing crop productivity,” “shortage of water,” and “rising sea level,” the Bank tells readers.
And then comes the clincher: “Invest now to improve understanding of internal climate migration.”
“The window of opportunity is still open to secure resilience for all—but not for long,” the report warns.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were both created at an international conference convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944. Unsurprisingly, the headquarters of both institutions are located in Washington DC.
The good news is, if they were created, they can also be destroyed—if they prove to have outlived their utility.
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