NARRATIVES ON CLIMATE MIGRATION IN THE GUATEMALAN CONTEXT AND THEIR BROADER IMPLICATIONS
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPieces about climate migration from Guatemala have become common in the popular press in recent years, with prestige media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Guardian publishing multiple stories on the phenomenon in a short span of time. Despite the relative abundance of these articles, a review of the existing scientific literature finds little evidence to suggest a causal relationship between anthropogenic climate change and migration in the Central American context. Furthermore, critics contend that the proliferation of these media pieces may have the unintended consequence of further politicizing migration in receiving countries. Through a literature review and interviews with climate scientists and journalists, this paper explores the origins of the climate migration narrative in American and British media outlets, as well as the differing epistemological approaches that academics and media professionals take when communicating the intricacies of this phenomena to a wider audience. This study finds that the sudden emergence of these narratives is likely a reaction to antiimmigrant rhetoric in the American political sphere—exemplified by former president Donald Trump—as both scientists and journalists seek to both humanize migrants and emphasize the urgency of the looming climate crisis. Further work is needed to gauge the efficacy of different methods of science communication, especially when dealing with themes as politically fraught as migration and climate change.
Degree ProgramUrban and Regional Development