The concept of "environmental refugees" has been around for more than 20 years -- those are people displaced by things like tsunamis and hurricanes and such. Now, apparently, we have to start dealing with "climate refugees":
Millions of people are predicted to become climate refugees as global warming increases. A new international pact will be needed to protect their rights to live.
Global warming caused by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions has been linked to a host of environmental disasters. These include sea-level rise, flooding, spells of droughts and cold and other extreme weather conditions such as frequent hurricanes and cyclones. As such natural catastrophes push inhabitants to flee to safer places, environmental refugees are fast becoming an international security issue.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there will be 150 million environmental refugees by 2050. The Institute for Environment and Human Security, affiliated with United Nations University, estimated the number of environmental refugees at 20 million in 2005 and predicted the number could be 50 million as early as 2010.
In spite of millions in danger of becoming refugees, at present there is no international law to protect their rights. UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency, does not recognise climate or environment refugees as these categories are not included in the list of legal refugees under the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention.