Climate Refugees

Written by Erika Sobelman, ESLLC 2016-2017

When you think of a refugee, your thoughts may point to Syria, the middle East, Burundi, etc. But, what if I told you the future points to an impending refugee crisis of approximately 200 million people worldwide, with United States citizens included in that projection? As the climate changes, the definition of a refugee changes. Something which used to imply a foreign person fleeing their home country due to discrimination, war, is beginning to change to designate someone from Louisiana whose home is underwater.

In extreme projections, the entire eastern seaboard is projected to be underwater by 2100. As a resident of Long Island, my home will be just a memory and my surviving family members will no longer know what it’s like to stroll down a Hamptons beach on a summer day or what it’s like to visit the orchards and the vineyards of the East end. Where will the country’s best pizza be located? Because I will not let that title go to Chicago and their fake “pizza”.

I’m not here to get all preachy and tell you to what to do with your life. The crisis of climate refugees is already occurring whether you eat meat or not, whether you bike or drive your car. But, we need to implement policy to help these people relocate and resettle within their home country with ease and push politicians to recognize this issue. As the residents of Alaska, Louisiana, and Florida already face this issue of resettlement due to environmental factors, it is time to get legislation in place to designate the steps of climate refugee resettlement in the United States. There has been almost no progress concerning policy regarding environmental displacement. There are few economic projections, nowhere for people to go once their homes are gone. As a student in the WRIT1133 course entitled, “Writing and Research for Refugee Resettlement,” I am working on a report that is gathering as much information on the subject in order to educate the public and potentially provide policy suggestions for this issue.

If you would like to receive a copy of “Climate Refugees: Environmental Displacement in the United States as a Result of Climate Change”, e-mail



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