A short reflection on climate change and belonging in our guest blog from Tess Humble, an activist and researcher who will be speaking at our forthcoming event Home: climate change, migration and our future on Wednesday 16 December, 6.45pm – 8.15pm (GMT).

*Movement, as migration implies cross border

Humankind has always been a species of migration, as resources fluctuate, trade routes change and empires rise and fall. Migration is a wonderous adaptation tool that is integral to the story of mankind.  Climate change is pushing this human movement further. From the Sub-Sahara to the retreating Andes to the eroding coast-lines of Northern Europe – our natural world is destabilising. Most migration in the climate change context is a quiet trickle: the slow movement from rural areas and our shorelines into towns and cities, quietly saying goodbye to long familiar homelands. Though sudden weather events, such as floods and storms, are increasingly seeing the violent expulsion of people without warning. Across the globe, from Patagonia at the tip of Chile to the UK, we will experience or witness what it is to be on the move as our planet changes.

What we know is that people are highly resilient and have been adapting to a changing climate for far longer than many of us imagine in the Western world. The Western world needs to change its understanding of what a “refugee crisis” is. It is a crisis for those having to flee their homes, a crisis of the planet and a crisis for all of us if we deny this essential adaptation tool in these drastically changing times. And across the world, there are incredible examples of how we can support each other as migrants and as receiving communities.

Ultimately, as climate change and climate-induced migration come closer to our lands, we will all need to ask deep questions of what it is to belong. As well as how we can safeguard our values with compassion in a radically changing world.

About the author:

Tess Humble has worked with refugees for over ten years including at the militarised border spaces around Europe. From setting up the first project to get safe life jackets to refugees to working in solidarity to stave off destitution for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, she has witnessed multiple brutal faces of the dehumanisation of those on the move. Interested in border imperialism, Tess researches and talks on how border security is developing across the globe and what this means for a world increasingly on the move under climate change.

Photo credit: rockrace on Unsplash


St Ethelburga's Guest