The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling of the planet’s migration patterns as unprecedented, provoking fears of the spread of disease and conflict and waves of anxiety across the Western world. On both sides of the Atlantic, experts issue alarmed predictions of millions of invading aliens, unstoppable as an advancing tsunami, and countries respond by electing anti-immigration leaders who slam closed borders that were historically porous.
But the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans tell a different story. Unhampered by barbed wire, migration catapulted us to the heights of the Himalayas and the isles of the Pacific. Climate changes triggered the first human migrations out of Africa, falling sea levels our passage across the Bering Sea. Far from being a disruptive behavior to be quelled at any cost, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing. Migration is not the crisis—it is the solution.
Conclusively tracking the history of misinformation from the 18th century through today’s anti-immigration policies, The Next Great Migration advocates for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.