Environmental degradation is already driving economic migration out of sub-Saharan Africa and onto European shores. By tackling climate change we can lessen the push factors driving immigration. If we don't tackle it, we have to brace ourselves for population shifts on a scale we have never seen before. (former UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, 2006)

The politics of fear increasingly governs much of thought, discourse and action nowadays. Fear of the outsider has taken centre stage, whether it be visions of seemingly unending migrants threatening order in our societies, or concerns about the pressure that they will bring to our land, leading to 'environmental suicide' (McDougall, 2003). This fear is regularly recycled in visually arresting headlines and sensationalized with exaggerated if not fictitious claims. Panic-inducing statements are commonplace: 'Never have we seen immigration on this scale: we just can't cope'; 'Migrant workers importing crime, say police'; 'Mass migration is becoming a danger to our environment'; and 'Cost of water shortage: civil unrest, mass migration and economic collapse' (Rowthorn, 2007)

It is this hysteria played out in the public eye that has helped to elevate climate change on the mainstream agenda in a way that scientific evidence and academic debates on their own had so far been unable to do. After all, until fairly recently, climate change occupied the minds of many policy-makers, lobbyists, scientists and academics; but the public generally viewed it as someone else's problem. Unlike immigrants, this was not an immediate threat. It was far away both spatially and temporally and thus could be avoided.

Migration, on the other hand, has long been a clear and present danger with an arsenal of media hyperbole, government policy, legal frameworks and policing structures designed either to keep people out or make them feel unwelcome if they do manage to get in.

So what is it about climate change that has now raised our anxieties? It is my contention that along with a real concern about the potentially debilitating effects of climate change on a global scale, Western governments also have a less benevolent reason for addressing this issue - that of keeping migrants at bay. In drawing out the linkages between climate change and migration, this chapter argues for a move away from the current approach that criminalizes migrants for the sake of 'developed nations' security' to a more holistic conception that is concerned with 'human security'.

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