Climate Migration and Reparations

“No One Leaves Home Unless Home is the Mouth of a Shark”-Warsan Shire

Sandbags and metal,

Concrete and hope,

Trying to keep the Marshall Islands afloat.


It’s a word we’ve all heard

And all think we understand.

People who’ve fled their countries

And have found another land.

Only now have I learned

How constrained is this word.

With so many asylum seekers disregarded,

Since they haven’t fled war or persecution,

But climate change.

Refugee was a word made to protect a select few

And despite knowing that climate change will increase migration

Very few

Countries care to change this definition.

Because to care would mean more refugees and more resources will be taken.

Because countries like that, like to forget that they were the ones taking.

Before coal, water wasn’t precious.

Before coal, people were able to be farmers.

Rain filled with acidity from the mines.

Malawians forced to relocate,

Homes teared down,

For a foreign coal company with government approval.

Dreams of development and progress,


Land that has been loved for generations

Taken and previous owners barely paid.

Then left.

The company left

And with it left a mess

No clean up, no fixing of the water they’ve contaminated, no assistance.

Just deep pits and sickness.

They destroyed everything

What am I asking for?

A perfectly good question

Once I thought the answer would be a name change

But now I know better

Like everything climate induced-migration is complicated.

Many in the Pacific prefer the title migrants with dignity.

And name changes won’t help the majority

As most people are displaced internally.

Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana

First climate resettlement in the US

Result of climate change and government-built levees

That led to the erosion of the land of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe

“Lose all our heritage, all our culture.

It’s all going to be history”-Chief Albert Naquin

So what can we do?

We can listen.

We can work to make sure to share the climate change burden

Aiding countries and communities afford mitigating climate change

Instead of going on about decreasing foreign aid,

Instead of ignoring the marginalized and focusing on the hate.

These countries and communities deserve reparations.

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