Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author. In Sonia's recent book, The Next Great Migration: The Story of Movement on a Changing Planet, she tracks the history of misinformation from the 18th century through to today's anti-immigration policies and makes the case for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.
Over the past few years, the news has been full of stories of people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands in a mass exodus. Politicians and the media present this upheaval of migration patterns as unprecedented, blaming it for the spread of disease and conflict, and spreading anxiety across the world as a result. But the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans tell a different story. Far from being a disruptive behaviour, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing. Climate changes triggered the first human migrations out of Africa. Falling sea levels allowed our passage across the Bering Sea. Unhampered by borders, migration allowed our ancestors to people the planet, into the highest reaches of the Himalayan Mountains and the most remote islands of the Pacific, disseminating the biological, cultural and social diversity that ecosystems and societies depend upon. In other words, migration is not the crisis - it is the solution.
In Sonia's Daily Life Lesson, she explains why we fear migration so much and whose responsibility the 70 million displaced people in the world is right now. Listen to her Daily Life Lessons to hear her answers to the following questions.
- Human migration has peopled our planet since our ancestors first moved out of Africa; wildlife migration has given us the rich flora and fauna of our landscapes; and cultural migration has touched every civilisation in the world throughout history. If migration is such a beautiful thing, how and why have we come to fear it so much?
- Looking to the future, in what ways should migration give us hope?
- There are over 70 million displaced people in the world right now. Whose role is it to take responsibility for them?
- What’s the most valuable life lesson you’ve learnt? How did you come by it and what does it mean to you?
- If you had one big idea to change the world – to make it a happier, healthier or better place – what would it be?