Wrapping up our fact check of Al Gore’s rant in Davos, we now turn to his claim that global warming is “causing these waves of climate refugees predicted to reach 1 billion in this century! Look at the xenophobia and political authoritarian trends that have come from just a few million refugees! What about a billion?” A forecast is not a fact so we can’t comment on the accuracy of predicting a billion refugees by 2100, but are there waves of millions of climate refugees currently sloshing around the world? Not according to the people who study these things.
There are millions of displaced persons around the world. Oxford University’s Our World in Data puts the number of refugees at around 26.4 million as of 2020. But was this caused by rising temperatures? The Bible of climate alarmism, the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on 1.5 degrees warming, said ... probably not.
“Temperature has had a positive and statistically significant effect on outmigration over recent decades in 163 countries, but only for agriculture-dependent countries (R. Cai et al., 2016).... In another study, an increase in precipitation anomalies from the long-term mean, was strongly associated with an increase in outmigration, whereas no significant effects of temperature anomalies were reported (Coniglio and Pesce, 2015)” [IPCC SR1.5 p. 244]
In the AR6 they had a bit more to say on the subject. In short they said that climatic events like droughts or weather disasters have been known to cause people to leave their homes, but for the most part such movements consist of rural to urban migration within countries (think The Grapes of Wrath). Occasionally people cross borders into neighbouring countries but almost always to neighbouring countries with close cultural ties.
“Most climate-related migration and displacement observed currently takes place within countries... Currently, observed international migration associated with climatic hazards is considerably smaller relative to internal migration and is most often observed as flowing between states that are contiguous and have labour-migration agreements and/or longstanding cultural ties.” [IPCC AR6 WG2 p. 1080]
So where are the teeming millions? The IPCC reports that on average about 20 million people globally experience displacement each year due to adverse weather events (p. 1083). While some of these people migrate permanently afterwards, most return home after the disaster is over. There is very little evidence of long-distance refugee movement due to climate change: “Systematic reviews find few documented examples of long-distance, inter-regional migration driven by climate events” (p. 1083).
So that’s a wrap for Al Gore’s crazed rant at Davos: 0 out of 7 statements held up under scrutiny. Which apparently is enough to make him a star at the WEF. But not to earn him one of those dreaded “Fact checks” that await climate skeptics even if they get their facts right.