Two of the biggest hot button issues in Congress this year have been climate change and immigration. Now, new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the two issues are linked.
Researchers from Princeton University conservatively estimated the future impact of climate change on the yields of Mexican-grown corn and wheat. They looked at migration data in Mexico from 1995-2005 (the ten years following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement). After accounting for a number of variables, they concluded that a 10 percent reduction in crop yields would lead to an additional 2 percent of the Mexican population emigrating. Depending on how fast or slow climate change occurs, the result could be between 1.4 and 6.7 million Mexicans emigrating to the U.S. by 2080 as a result of declines in agricultural productivity.
While this research focuses on Mexico, there is little question that migration driven by a decline in crop yields is a big issue in many other parts of the world, including much of Africa, India, Bangladesh, and Latin America, according to the researchers.
The debate in Congress over climate change was dominated by the costs of implementing various strategies to reduce greenhouse gases. Less discussed were the costs of inaction. Perhaps this is why Congress failed to act.