Matters of Scale - The Plight of the Displaced

Number of people in the past decade displaced by infrastructure projects, such as road and dam construction
80 to 90 million
Number of people in the past decade left homeless by natural disasters including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and landslides (based on an annual average over 25 years)
50 million
Number of people in 1981 who were landless or near-landless
938 million
Number of people expected to be landless or near-landless in 2000
1.24 billion
Number of people per square mile in the five boroughs of New York City
Number of people per square mile in Jakarta, Indonesia
Number of international refugees in the early 1960s
1 million
? in the mid-1970s
3 million
Number of refugees displaced within the borders of their own countries, in 1985
9.5 million
? in 1995
20 million
Number of people currently living in coastal areas vulnerable to flooding from storm surges
46 million
Number of people living in vulnerable areas if global warming produces a 50-centimeter rise in sea level
92 million
Sources: Infrastructure displacement: The World Bank, Environment Department, Resettlement and Development: The Bankwide Review of Projects Involving Involuntary Resettlement, 1986-1993 (Washington, D.C.: 1994). Natural disasters: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, World Disasters Report, 1996 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). City demographics: Hal Kane, The Hour of Departure: Forces that Create Refugees and Migrants, Worldwatch Paper 125 (Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, June 1995). Internally displaced refugees: U.S. Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Survey, 1985-1995 (Washington, D.C.: 1996). Refugees and global warming: Michael Renner, Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurity (New York: Norton, 1996). Compiled by Curtis Runyan.