In 2005, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) predicted that there would be 50 million refugees in 2010 due to climate change. An enterprising reporter wondered what happened to UNEP’s prediction, and found that those areas UNEP claimed were most at risk have actually gained population. How did UNEP respond? According to Anthony Watts, UNEP tried to erase the evidence of its initial claim — without success. It seems folks at UNEP were unaware of Google caches.
The original UNEP claim was ridiculous on its face, and UNEP’s subsequent effort to rewrite history is farcical. Regrettably, we’re unlikely to hear much about this story from the environmentalist community or those who allegedly police the politicization of science. And this is part of the problem. Climate change is real, and the evidence of a human contribution to the gradual warming of the atmosphere is strong. There’s no need to conjure fantastical projections of an impending climate apocalypse. But UNEP and various organizations insist on doing so nonetheless — indeed, UNEP is now claiming there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2020 — and the climate community raises not a peep. In the end, this ends up doing more to discredit legitimate concerns about climate change than to encourage action.