Study: Climate change will spur Mexican immigration to US

"Climate change refugees" -- people who will want to move or who will have to move in response to climate change -- have been a large concern of nations and others looking how how the world will be altered in coming decades.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that perhaps millions of people planet-wide will be forced from low-lying communities inundated by rising seas, or from farming communities that are subject to desertification or other similar scenarios. 

Now, Michael Oppenheimer of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and colleagues are predicting that up to 6.7 million Mexican adults may emigrate to the U.S. by 2080 as a result of loss of agricultural productivity. 

Depending on how fast global warming occurs and whether or not farmers and crops can adapt, anywhere from 2 percent to 10 percent of the current population aged 15 to 65 years old -- or anywhere from 1 million to nearly 7 million people -- could emigrate, they found in a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their study factored in emigration data, climate data and crop yields, but did not look at economic or other factors that also could affect emigration patterns.

They note that their study looks at only crop yields, and that more people might migrate in response to changes in the total acreage of land cultivated.

Also, they say that while their study looked solely at Mexico and the U.S., the results suggest that large numbers of people in developing countries may migrate to other nations because of agricultural "stress" caused by climate change.