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The Cost of Climate Migration (Bonus Episode)

Climate change has a price. In this bonus episode (recorded on Earth Day) our host Dr. Jay Famiglietti has a live virtual roundtable with three experts, each with a unique perspective on this multifaceted topic.

Please note: For seasons 1 and 2, we were known as “Let’s Talk About Water,” so you may hear that title in this episode. Don’t worry, it’s still us!

Guest Bios

Robin BronenRobin Bronen

Robin Bronen lives in Alaska, works as a human rights attorney and has been researching the climate-induced relocation of Alaska Native communities since 2007. She received her PhD in December 2012 from the Resilience and Adaptation Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California at Davis. She is a senior research scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology. She also works as the executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, a non-profit agency that is the only immigration legal service provider in Alaska, houses a Language Interpreter Center, training bilingual Alaskans to be professional interpreters, and also is a research and policy institute focused on climate justice issues. The Alaska Bar Association awarded her the 2007 Robert Hickerson Public Service award and the 2012 International Human Rights award. The Federal Bureau of Investigation awarded the Alaska Institute for Justice the 2012 FBI Director’s Community Service award and the International Soroptomost’s awarded her the 2012 Advancing the Rights of Women award.

She is working as an expert on climate-induced planned relocations with the UN High Commission for Refugees and is a member of the advisory group for the Nansen Initiative, a state-led, bottom-up consultative process intended to build consensus on the development of a protection agenda addressing the needs of people displaced in the context of natural hazards, including the effects of climate change. Her research has been featured in the Guardian, CNN, Climate Wire and Nature magazine. She has written numerous articles published by Brookings Institution, the Guardian, New York University Law Review and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others. She has been an expert witness for Congressional hearings focused on the community relocations and regularly presents her research at conferences focused on climate change adaptation, disaster relief reduction and climate change and population displacement.

Jesse KeenanJesse Keenan

Jesse M. Keenan is an Associate Professor and social scientist within the faculty of the School of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Keenan leads courses and seminars advancing the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable real estate and urban development. As a globally recognized thought leader, Keenan’s research focuses on the intersection of climate change adaptation and the built environment, including aspects of design, engineering, regulation, planning and financing. Keenan has previously advised on matters concerning the built environment for agencies of the U.S. government, governors, mayors, Fortune 500 companies, technology ventures, community enterprises and international NGOs.

Keenan is the author of NYC 2040: Housing the Next One Million New Yorkers (Columbia University Press, 2014) and Climate Adaptation Finance and Investment in California (Routledge, 2018), which was awarded Amazon’s ‘Best Of’ Award for “The Best Business and Leadership Books of 2018. Keenan formerly served as the Chair and Vice-Chair for the U.S. Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, a federal interagency initiative formerly under the Obama White House Climate Action Plan, and as editorial team co-lead for the Built Environment at the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit at Keenan currently serves as the Executive Producer of the globally recognized climate change podcast America Adapts, which was nominated for Best “Green” Podcast at the 2021 iHeart Radio Podcast Awards. Keenan holds degrees in the law (J.D., LL.M.) and science (M.Sc.) of real estate and the built environment, including a Ph.D. from the Delft University of Technology.

Abrahm LustgartenAbrahm Lustgarten

Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter, with a focus at the intersection of business, climate and energy. He is currently covering changes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and working on a project about pollution at U.S. Defense sites. His 2015 series examining the causes of water scarcity in the American West, “Killing the Colorado,” was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and received the 2016 Keck Futures Initiative Communication Award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Lustgarten co-produced the 2016 Discovery Channel film “Killing the Colorado,” and has previously worked with PBS Frontline, including on the 2010 documentary “The Spill,” about how BP’s corporate culture of recklessness and profiteering led to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Wired, Salon, and Esquire, among other publications. He is the author of two books; “Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster,” and also “China’s Great Train: Beijing’s Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet”. Lustgarten earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 2003 and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Cornel.



Photo Credit

Abrahm LustgartenKCRW; Lars Klove
Jesse KeenanTulane News
Robin BronenYale Environment 360, Yale University; Barb Hood

Full Transcript

Jesse Keenan:
There’s a scarcity of resources and we need to make some tough decisions. And I think one of the things that we can do is have this conversation today about our collective future. And if we don’t do that, we’re going to be caught off guard in ways that will be quite devastating.

Amy Hergott:
Hi everyone!

Welcome back to another episode of Let’s Talk About Water! My name is Amy Hergott and I work behind the scenes as an executive producer, here, at Let’s Talk About Water. I like talking about water so much, that I’m also a graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan studying wetland biogeochemistry! This episode is a condensed version of the live-panel discussion on Earth Day 2021. Now, the sound quality may be a little off, in part because it lacks the audio expertise that goes along with our regular production. But also, because our guests joined us from all over, including a naval air base – so sit back, relax, and pretend you are in the audience with us!

And now, to the main event!

Jay Famiglietti:
One degree Celsius. It’s a difference that will displace millions. Climate change is here. By 2070, one in three people will be forced to choose between persevering in tenuously inhabitable regions or to move. Where do those 3 billion people move to? Who’s paying for it? Who’s responsible for it? What does this mean for human security?

My name is Jay Famiglietti. I’m the executive director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan. We’re going to dig into all of that today.

I’m joined by three remarkable individuals working towards communicating the implications of climate migration. Robin Bronen, Jesse Keenan, and Abrahm Lustgarten.

Robin Bronen is a senior research scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And as the executive director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, she is working as an expert on climate induced, planned relocations with the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Jesse Keenan is an Associate Professor and social scientists on the faculty of the School of Architecture at Tulane University and also the executive producer of the climate change podcast, America Adapts.

Abrahm Lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter with ProPublica and the focus at the intersection of business climate and energy.

We’ll start with you Abrahm.

Abrahm Lustgarten:
Thanks again for having me, Jay. It’s good to see you again. You cited that one in three people on the planet. That comes from a study that influenced my work published in the proceedings of national Academy of sciences last year that essentially found that for the past 6,000 years, humans have lived in a certain environmental niche. And as the climate changes, that niche is going to displace or at least move outside of the home territory of one-third of the planet’s population that potentially 3 billion people. And around the world, we can expect, you know, one to 3 billion of them to begin to migrate.

And that’s really been the focus of what I’ve been looking at the last couple of years. And I’m eager for the discussion and to hear what the rest of you have to add to it as well. So thank you.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks Abrahm. Robin, let’s move to you.

Robin Bronen:
Thank you very much for the invitation. I want to honour the lands on which I work , of the Dena’ina. Who we’re stewards of this land for thousands of years. And I’ve been working on what I consider one of the worst issues in regard to climate forced displacement and the giant human rights challenges that are in front of us because the US federal government has no agency or funding mandate to facilitate the movement of people.

I’ve been working with Alaska Native communities for the last 15 years, who have been advocating intensely with the US federal government to facilitate what they have determined is their longest and best adaptation strategy to deal with the climate crisis. And that is a community-wide relocation. Three Alaska native communities made that decision almost 25 years ago, and have been advocating intensively to relocate from places that are now environmentally vulnerable.

And none of them have yet been able to relocate despite testifying in front of Congress. And many of you know, that President Obama came to Alaska in 2015 and that is because of their advocacy. And we had great hope that he was going to actually move this issue to the front of his agenda so the communities in Alaska could be safe.

And unfortunately that hasn’t happened. One community of the three, the community of Newtok. One third of the community was able to relocate in 2019. Two thirds, Over 200 people are now still not safe. It’s important to understand what I’m talking about this, we’re talking about remote Indigenous communities, where there are no roads.

So we get fall storms, which are hurricane strength. There is no evacuation route to which they can go. And so we’ve been working with them to frame this issue as a human rights issue and to create a governance framework that will protect their human rights now and far into the future.

Jay Famiglietti:
Jesse, over to you.

Jesse Keenan:
Well, thank you very much for having me. It’s a great pleasure to join you.

My expertise is real estate, housing, urban development. My work can be defined at least in recent years of thinking about who can adapt, what are the consequences of adaptation as well as maladaptation?

And to what extent is their agency and regulatory bodies or policy agencies to get ahead of what I see is a broader set of market mechanisms that are pushing people in certain directions that leads in many ways, exacerbates, inequalities. And further marginalizes many communities who themselves have been subject to historic marginalization.

When we think about a full range of decisions and a full range of impacts with climate change. And again, I think about this in the context of housing, fixed income assets, it has such broad implications and certainly when we think about sending zones, receiving zones the governance that it takes for us to unite as communities, as individuals the resources it takes to move elderly and health records.

I mean, all of the complexities of society in its relocation, both orderly and disorderly is such an amazing challenge. In many ways. I would also position it as an amazing opportunity. Now there’s certainly much that’s lost along the way in terms of our livelihoods and social capital and the like.

But I think for many people. In many places, there’s an opportunity to think about sustainable urban development and to think about sustainability and what can we do not to create the footprint of our carbon intensive economy, but what can we do to create a greater accessibility, affordability, and greater stewardship of what little land I think we should be positioned ourselves in.

And I think is worthy of further broader national discussion and certainly a national discussion within federal policy as we move forward in the United States.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks very much. Jesse.

So, let’s talk terminology. Could you tell us what climate migration is? And what’s the difference between climate migrant and a refugee.

Abrahm Lustgarten:
In my mind the climate migrant is somebody who’s forced to move because of changes in their environment. Because they can’t access enough water or they can’t grow enough food or it’s too hot to survive or to thrive. But the fact is the term refugee is a legal term, it’s defined by the United Nations and it’s loaded with obligations for member States of the United Nations to do something about it. And technically doesn’t include the kind of climate refugees that we’re talking about. It refers to people displaced by conflict.

There’s a reluctance to do something about climate migrants so far.

And the other lesson for me about who is a climate migrant, is that it’s not so simple.

A climate is something that influences and, plays a role among many in, the reasons why people choose to migrate. In my reporting, I went out searching for those clean, clear cut examples and, they’re few and far between. And what you find instead is that, a drought and a failed crop coincided with fights that somebody’s kids had at school and the lack of jobs and the political corruption and all of these kind of swirl together and push somebody to make a decision to migrate.

there are rare examples where a community is inundated by sea level rise. And that might be, , a true climate migration, but in general, what we should see or understand is that climate is an exacerbating factor.

Jay Famiglietti:
So Robin, let’s go back to you

Robin Bronen:
Thank you.

So I’ve worked as an immigration attorney in the United States for many years. And one of the things that is really important to understand in this context and why I actually created the word climigration. So people would stop using the word climate refugees is because the whole concept of being a refugee is that your government is either persecuting or torturing you or failing to control other people who are persecuting and torturing you.

So the bonds between you as a citizen of that country and your national government are broken or have been broken. And in this context of the climate crisis, what we really need to be focusing on is building the capacity of national governments to be able to handle the internal migration that is going to be the primary way that people respond to this crisis.

Jay Famiglietti:
Jesse, did you want to follow up?

Jesse Keenan:
I would say that not only is it about a national capacity, it’s also about at least here in the United States, it’s about local and state capacity.

The other thing I would note is that there’s a continuum and I think we can understand this along continuum.

And on one end of the continuum, we have those who are really lose everything and they lose everything along the way. Their communities, their homes, their livelihoods and the like.

On the other end of the continuum, there’s people who have the elective mobility, they actually have the means to move.

And they’re already thinking about where do they want to make long-term investments in their lives and in generational wealth transfer, what can they build and leave for their families in their communities.

And what I am most concerned with as a matter of policies, what happens to the people who do not have those means? What happens to the people who do not have a body or a collective agency around them to help them transition? Who gets left behind and, these decisions that we make today will dictate the paths of our success in the future or failure.

Jay Famiglietti:
Pretty sobering stuff from everyone so far. So I wanted drill down on this question of capacity. Robin, let’s go back to you. So it looks like we’re you know, we’re talking about governance, tools, policies, protection. I know this is something you’re working on. What is a framework?

What would it look like?

Robin Bronen:
Yeah, thank you so much for that question. So I think one of the things is that we’re not focused on what I call a relocation decision making process. And what I mean by that is communities because Jesse is right in the bar, too. This is going to be a local governing entities decision-making process with the people living within that community. Is they need very localized ecosystems, specific information about what’s happening with their environment.

And it’s going to be combination of extreme weather events and slow ongoing incremental change, like sea level rise and erosion. She’s going to force people to leave the places they call home. So one of the pieces in this relocation decision making process and what we’ve implemented in Alaska with the tribes is doing community-based environmental monitoring that is using and working with their Indigenous knowledge and then scaling it up with state and federal government representative so that they can understand the predictive rate of change of for instance, erosion.

Because one of the pieces about relocation is that it is a long-term process, meaning in the best of circumstances, it would be at a minimum, a three to five year process of actually not only moving infrastructure, but moving people and creating or maintaining livelihoods. And in order to have that be a planned process it’s really important that these decisions are made while people are still living in the places they call home.

Because if they’re displaced because of an extreme weather event, they are going to be focused on their emergency needs for food, housing, water, health care. And it’s going to be very hard to what I call protect the most important human right in this context, which is the right to self-determination.

And what you also need with community-based environmental monitoring is understanding what the thresholds are, so that when you meet those thresholds that you then facilitate a relocation process to a relocation site that has been previously determined.

Jay Famiglietti:
So Abrahm, do you think this is applicable to other communities around the globe?

So for example, what you saw in, Central America,

Abrahm Lustgarten:
You know , What I found in Central America was sheer desperation coupled with an incredible lack of support from the federal government. For example, the rural communities there where migration was originating is largely because of food insecurity driven by drought. And yet, Guatemala’s total crop production was increasing and it’s because they have so much large corporate farming. Farming of, fruits in particular for exports or Palm oil.

And government supports those large corporate farms or the corporate farms have the capital to invest in water infrastructure, for example, to build dams or have, water systems that can provide in times of drought to irrigate their fields. The rural area, the larger segments of population don’t have any infrastructure support, they don’t have access to the food and so forth.

So I mean, that’s just one little window into the gap left by potential government support. And, just to switch gears for a second, if I will, I was thinking as Robin and Jesse were talking, you know, in the United States, when we think about government support and, communities and, transparency of information about climate that here in particular, those communities often have a conflicted interest and, this is something Jesse and I have talked about a whole lot, but what’s happening in the climate and what the data shows often runs against the development objectives or the economic growth objectives of local communities the re-election objectives of, local officials.

And so, there’s no easy solution to these trends, but there’s a tension so when we start talking about, communities changing and habitability changing what’s the best interest for the people is not always what’s in the best interest of that community, or at least the community that’s resistant to that long-term change.

Jay Famiglietti:
The three of you are from the United States. What is the status? I know it’s early days for Biden administration. Do you think will get their proper level of attention in the US?

Jesse Keenan:
It is certainly not getting the attention. The Biden administration in its current iteration of domestic climate +policy is largely focused on climate mitigation and GHG and reduction of GHG.

And obviously, those are central goals to our obligations as global citizens. But the climate adaptation element of this, not just in the context that brings us here today, but in broader terms is really a missing piece in terms of policy and specifically personnel at this moment. Now early days on, right.

We’re just getting going. It’s going to take a long time, particularly in the middle pandemic to staff, to get the personnel to find some guidance from Congress on the like and there’s certainly early movement in progress, I think in internalizing environmental justice. Which is a set of principles and values and facts that can be integrated and guiding the allocation resources and to develop policy going forward.

And certainly the progression of an infrastructure bill and infrastructure national plan is central, but there’s some key missing elements here. And on one level, people in the Whitehouse see adaptation and resilience problems and solutions in general, sort of bad politics.

Adaptation for one group may be maladaptive to the other. It’s a kind of political lose lose in many situations. There’s no core win there. And I think that’s really an unfortunate perspective, and I hope that that changes. And I hope that changes before hurricane and wildfire season because what we need is a national commitment to internalize adaptation in a wide variety of policies on how we not only engage with physical infrastructure, but the delivery of social services. Which are allied to the shocks and stresses of climate change in education and in healthcare. it’s hard to dis-aggregate these things, even from affordability of housing. So I think on many levels, we’re, getting there.

I mean, there’s plenty of places in this country where I think an national infrastructure plan, could certainly put investments in infrastructure that are truly maladaptive that are putting people at greater risk. They become reliant on that type of infrastructure, which has an underlying fragility that we cannot fully account for much less maintained.

And we can talk about that in a lot of different places throughout this country. But the investments that we make today in infrastructure will create a lot of path dependency on our capacity to think about managed retreat and managed relocation in the years to come.

Jay Famiglietti:
Robin, would you like to follow up on that?

Robin Bronen:
Yeah, so one of the things that’s really important to understand in this context is that the United States has an awful legacy of forced relocation, particularly of Indigenous populations. And so I know in Alaska, the state government has been extraordinarily reluctant to step into this space.

Most countries in the world have absolutely no desire to manage the internal movement of their populations. It’s really important to understand that we’re asking governments to step into this space that has historically traumatized millions of people all over the world. Ans ask them to take leadership, to protect people from the climate impacts that are only going to accelerate for into the future, which is the reason why I always talk about it’s essential that this be human rights space.

The other thing that I will note, which was really disappointing to me is that in {resident Biden’s executive orders, he did on February 4th address the issue of climate change and migration, but it was put into an international context. There was nothing in the executive orders that focus on this urgent need, especially in Alaska to scale up the federal government response so that Indigenous communities can be safe.

Jay Famiglietti:
So when it comes to complicated messages like this, you make it pretty straightforward. But I wonder how we get that message out and we can, you know, use the US for an example? What steps are you taking and what steps can we take?

Robin Bronen:
In the infrastructure plan, there’s five words that say that the infrastructure plan will provide relocation assistance to Indigenous communities in Alaska. And it’s because of their tremendous advocacy in this space. And so from my perspective the challenge is people don’t want to leave their homes.

And so that’s what they’re saying and their local leaders are listening to that. And so it’s going to take an activism on the ground to say, this is what we want in order for local leaders and federal politicians to actually respond and create a national framework as Jesse was mentioning.

Jay Famiglietti:
Yeah. Again, this sort of, right of self-determination I think is super, super important. Sounded like someone else wanted to speak, Jesse Abrahm.

Abrahm Lustgarten:
I’ll just add I think Robin’s right about the sort of lack of domestic focus, but I’m a little bit more optimistic about the early signs or signals that the Biden administration’s offered because that executive order that Robin mentioned it, calls for all the right stuff.

Biden’s asking for an assessment of everything from how do you define a climate migrant to what should opportunities be for relocating or accepting people from outside of the country, perhaps that implies relocation or support for people inside of the country as well.

And when I looked at the list of advisors that are leading this effort which I think they just released this morning and it’s a lot of the right people. It’s people with state department expertise.

It’s people like Alex De Sherbinin at Columbia university, who bring the sort of academic perspective that’s needed. And my impression is that this won’t necessarily be a bureaucratic process and. I don’t know what will come of it. Or if it will, sufficiently begin to address the domestic American issues that we’re talking about right now.

but it’s only been, you know, 90 days or so. And it seems like things are at least headed in the right direction.

Jay Famiglietti:
So let’s turn. To who’s responsible. Financially? Who’s responsible illegally?

Robin, do you want to take a stab at it?

Robin Bronen:
Sure. So I’m talking in the context of the Indigenous communities with whom I work and the federal government there’s responsibility completely for this issue because in Alaska, the Indigenous communities that I work with along the coast, they were forcibly placed there because the federal government determined that in last century that Indigenous communities need to send their children to school.

Barges came up the West coast of Alaska, dumped the construction materials in the places that were easiest for the barge to land. And then communities settled around these very environmentally vulnerable places. So it’s because of the federal government that in Alaska Indigenous communities are permanently settled.

Many of them in these really vulnerable places. So the federal government needs to bear the responsibility making these communities safe.

Jay Famiglietti:
Jesse, any thoughts on that?

Jesse Keenan:
We’re all liable. There’s an enormous component of our economy. A little under 20% of our GDP is associated with real estate housing and the built environment. There’s liability for local governments once they go through the process of investing in vulnerability assessments and the like, and developing a certain intelligence about what these risks and uncertainties are in the future. They have public obligations to be stewards of their communities in their jurisdictions to make investments.

So they have liabilities when they don’t necessarily advance these interests. It’s diffused systematically, and the risk of climate change is systematic to the extent that there’s a certain paradox that we will pay as citizens as consumers or both. And it challenges the long-term economic viability and welfare of vast elements of our society and particularly in light of economic inequality. Climate change simply exacerbates that, and there are financial consequences as well as legal liabilities associated with action and inaction, but it will shake out in political terms.

Talking a little bit about the political geography of this. One interesting thing is this idea that we begin to diffuse a different type of value system. As we see more urbanites and urban coast, people of means who have the capacity to relocate. Particularly the East coast, the United States, they’re generally a little bit more left leaning and they’re moving into increasingly conservative parts of the country.

And I think that that heterogeneity of values that people bring with them, could be a potentially positive outcome It could be totally devastating as well.

Jay Famiglietti:
uh, Abrahm. You want to add onto that?

Abrahm Lustgarten:
There’s short-term and long-term solutions. And, foreign aid is a really substantial, ineffective, immediate short-term solution. I visited sites in El Salvador run by the UN the World Food Program where $32,000 built a, greenhouse and a drought stricken area where an entire village was really, you know, on the cusp of leaving the country.

And they’ve stayed and they’re prosperous and they’re happier for it. The lead subject in my story that I wrote about Guatemala who did leave and came to Texas he requested his, farm co-op has village of 40 people. They requested an irrigation system that would bring water from a river that was less than a quarter of a mile away.

At a cost of $800, they were turned down by the Guatemalan government. And that’s an example of like, know, a place where an American government program or US-AID or even a philanthropist can step in and have a direct immediate impact that changes the migration equation.

Jay Famiglietti:
We’re going to turn now to open questions .what can the individual do in this, when thinking about where we live ? And I’ll just leave that open to anyone.

Robin Bronen:
One of the things that people can do, as I mentioned is doing community-based environmental monitoring where you live, because this is going to affect, very local ecosystems, and we need to understand how they are changing so that we can make decisions about what needs to happen in order for us to adapt, because we know that the climate crisis is not only accelerating, but it’s non-linear.

So while we may understand what has happened in the past, that is new indication for what will happen in the future.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thank you, Robin. Sean, do we have another question?

Even if we cut emissions today and use strictly renewable resources, it wouldn’t make a difference for years. How can we make change now? Someone else Abrahm or Jesse?

Jesse Keenan:
Well, certainly we’re baked into hundreds of years of climate change, if we were to position ourselves within the context of a country or a democracy, we have to make decisions and let’s hope they’re democratic decisions in determining what we want to protect and what we want to let go. There’s a scarcity of resources and we need to make some tough decisions.

And I think one of the things that we can do is have this conversation today about our collective future. And if we don’t do that, we’re going to be caught off guard in ways that will be quite devastating.

And I think we need to be honest with ourselves about the trajectory that we’re on. Does it mean that we need to be doom and gloom. We can always find opportunities . And in fact, in the definition of the IPCC, it’s not just managing the impacts of climate change. It’s also about the opportunities that arise.

Bringing us back to water, how do we reposition ourselves wherever we end up so that we are stewards of water and stewards of water infrastructure, in a way that is truly sustainable.

Because if not, we’re just going to be making these decisions every few generations and a long, long haul of migration. And so let’s try to think about the opportunities that bring us together, that don’t separate us.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks, Jesse. And thanks bringing it back to wate., Next question, how this impact different demographics Abrahm, any thoughts on that?

Abrahm Lustgarten:
Yeah. Climate disproportionately affects people of color people at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. So, without intentional and immediate interference in those sort of historical patterns that’s what we can expect going forward.

And you’ll see the hardest hit communities, whether it’s going to be in Louisiana or in Guatemala being those that are least privileged. To the extent that migration is a measure of mobility. I think it’s already been mentioned here, but mobility takes means.

And so want to enter the spectrum. You have, those privileged enough to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances they see before them. In the middle you have group that’s strong levels to adapt attempts to move or whose conditions worsen.

And at the bottom end of the spectrum, we have people who are simply trapped or left behind. And that might be left behind from a community that to adapt, pick up the move, or it might be left behind in a community that’s boxed out behind a closed border that will no longer allow immigration. The effects are not equal.

Jay Famiglietti:
Sean. Another question. How do we connect people to go for community-based? Environment management, uh, maybe back to you, Robin.

Robin Bronen:
Yeah. So I would say the way that we started our work is we went to the Indigenous communities and ask them what they were concerned about environmentally. So of the person asking this question lives in a community and you know, what the issues are that you’re worried about, like flooding or erosion. Is figuring out what government agent, local government agency could work with you to implement it so that you’re connecting what you’re observing on the ground with getting that higher scale predicted rate of change, which is going to be critically important for understanding the type of adaptation strategy that could be implemented to protect your community for the long-term.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks Robin. Next question please. How can developing countries cope with the climate issue as they are under debt of developed countries?. So they have to follow their policies instead of what is better to cope. Jesse, any thoughts on that?

Jesse Keenan:
There’s too much money in the world. There’s just trillions of dollars, not just in cash, but in derivatives markets, the global financial economy has money than we fully even understand. There is a global debt crisis.

And a component of that of course, is putting folks in debt, in countries, in debt. And as we think about that, that’s been one element of course, of broader ambitions with sustainable development goals. And that we’ve needed growth in the global economy to help pay for advancements that we have had in sustainable development goals, but there’s also a wicked dilemma there.

And the burdens that debt places on societies, in the extent to which the repayment of that debt and the renegotiation, or, or negotiation of that debt itself dictates the terms of what these domestic economies and policies have to prioritize. And it very often prioritizes structural fixed income assets and it prioritizes revenue and it prioritizes a certain materiality in structural terms that overlooks the opportunities to adapt and non-structural terms.

That over adapts, other elements of non-economic determinants of social and environmental welfare that are critically problematic. Now, I think there’s one development globally in this context, which is accounting. And environmental accounting, and the extent to which there are advances now in environmental accounting, that begin to put dollar figure, if you will, Canadian dollar figure, if you will bond ecosystem services and ecosystem services valuation,

I think, there’s a little bit of a slippery slope there. Of course we can economize everything. The intrinsic value of nature is something that defies the economization of course, but I think there are elements from which there are new values.

And I think once we register these new values we can at least try to negotiate out of this debt crisis through the propagation and investment in natural resources and ecologies and the underlying human management of these ecologies and environments. I hope that that is potentially a path forward.

And it’s already one that we talk about globally in terms of nature based solutions and things like this. but in the context of scale the global debt crisis that we face now, particularly in, the Global South is enormous and it will dictate where priorities are and resources for both climate mitigation and climate adaptation.

Jay Famiglietti:
So Jesse, you sort of nicely pivoted to a question I wanted to ask about you know, what sort of gives you hope. And I want to go back to Robin and Abrahm and maybe take a minute each to talk about, you know, what are things that give you hope? innovations that might be out there and then we’ll wrap it up. And if you’re just like really depressed that’s okay too. I feel you’re pain.

Robin Bronen:
Well, honestly, I am really depressed. the Indigenous tribes in Alaska have been advocating on these issues now for a couple of decades and we’ve seen very little government response. What gives me hope honestly, is I feel like in the United States, we are in a moment of understanding how racial injustice and colonization have tremendously harmed all of us. All of us living in the United States and the hope is for me and this is part of the work that we’re doing with the tribes.

Is if we are able to what I call de-colonize the systems that have caused these communities to be environmentally vulnerable, to not be able to get the resources they need and vision a future where there truly is justice and equity. That there’s tremendous opportunity because I think it was Jesse who mentioned, the movement of people to new areas, urban areas, rural areas, and we have to reconceive how human settlements are going to be.

And this is our opportunity to make sure that when we’re doing that, we’re making sure that it’s racially just, and not a continuation of the colonization that has been in this country since the country came into existence.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks. Thanks very much. Abrahm.

Abrahm Lustgarten:
Well, I was trying to go first because I didn’t want to have the last word because it is an overwhelmingly pessimistic uh, landscape in my view. I can find the sliver of, hope, sorta in what Robin was saying. that there’s this moment of, coming to truth with history and inequities. And perhaps for the United States in particular, but for the developed world, perhaps there’s , an opportunity to speak to that through economics because that’s, been an effective tool for us in the past.

And I’m thinking about like the demographic decline that, the United States is on the precipice of. That Canada certainly is where there is a need in terms of economic growth for more people and it’s compatible with the need that other people have move relocate.

And if, we can kind of meld this newfound appreciation for inequality and others with the possibility for mutual benefit and growth that stems from accepting a bit of a reorganization and openness. Then, maybe that’s a way out of an otherwise bleak sort of recipe for more and more friction.

Jay Famiglietti:
Thanks so much. All of you for, joining us today, it was a real pleasure. Abrahm, Jesse Robin. If you’re interested in any of our guests books or articles that can be found on our webpage, which is Let’

Thanks again, everyone for joining us. Have a great day.

Amy Hergott:
I know it’s daunting, but I hope you enjoyed this discussion.

My name is Amy Hergott, I’m an executive producer at “Let’s Talk About Water”. A podcast produced and edited in-house at the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan.

Thanks to everyone who helped put the show together, including Mark Ferguson, Laura McFarlan, Jesse Witow, Shawn Ahmed, Stacey Dumanski, Fred Reibin, and Erin Stephens.

And a special thanks to Linda Lilienfeld.

And remember, we’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and many other quality podcasting platforms.

Thanks for joining us today and, be sure to stay tuned for season three of Let’s Talk About Water!