Norman Myers (born 24 August 1934) is a British environmentalist specialising in biodiversity and noted for his work on environmental refugees. He is the father of marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, and lives in Headington, Oxford, England.
Myers has been an advisor to organizations including the United Nations, the World Bank, scientific academies in several countries, and various government administrations worldwide. He is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Green College, Oxford University, and an Adjunct Professor at Duke University. He is a patron of population concern charity Population Matters and, in 1991, was awarded the environmental Blue Planet Prize. He was elected as a Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1994.
Myers's work ranged extensively over diverse critical global issues. In the late 1970s, his work addressed rapidly accelerating decline of tropical forests and suggested that rates were accelerating. His estimates were later verified through satellite imagery. In the early 1980s Myers addressed the issue of deforestation in the context of land conversion for cattle production, a process that he called the "hamburger connection," showing the international linkages between industrial food production and environmental decline. He did some of the earliest work on biodiversity, highlighting the critical importance of "biodiversity hotspots" -- regions that are home to a disproportionately high number of species. This work was cited when he was named 2007 Time Magazine Hero of the Environment. Myers proposed that these hotspots should be the focus of preservation efforts as a way to cut the rates of mass extinction and this strategy has been adopted by global conservation organizations generating hundreds of millions of dollars to date -- by some estimates the largest amounts ever assigned to a single conservation strategy. He wrote an influential book "Ultimate Security: The Environmental Basis of Political Stability" that was an early contribution to the field of environmental security and how environmental factors influence local and international politics. Together with Jennifer Kent, he wrote a book "Perverse Subsidies" that highlighted how large-scale government intervention in the form of subsidies, both direct and indirect, can lead to adverse rather than beneficial effects on society and the environment.
Myers's widely cited work on 'climate refugees' has been criticised by social scientists, and migration scholars in particular. Professor Myers himself admitted that his estimates, although calculated from the best available data, required some "heroic extrapolations", In April 2011, the UN was reported to have distanced itself from Myer's forecasts in 2005 that the total number of climate refugees would reach 50 million by 2010. One academic has stated that "my understanding is that Norman Myers looked at a map of the world, and he said which are the hotspots that we think are going to be affected by climate change; then he looked up the projected populations for those areas in 2010 and 2050 and added them up.... That's how he got to such a figure, because he didn't take into account that some people wouldn't move." Populations continue to rise in many regions, with one effect being attempts at migration.
- "Population Matters Patrons". www.populationmatters.org.
- "US National Academy of Sciences Foreign Associate, 1994". www.populationmatters.org.
- "Time Magazine Hero of the Environment 2007".
- "Encyclopedia of Earth Profile)".
- "Ultimate Security (W.W. Norton and Co., 1993)".
- "Perverse Subsidies (Island Press, Washington DC 2001)".
- Brown, O. (2008) "Migration and Climate Change" (IOM Migration Research Series, No. 31). Geneva: International Organization for Migration; p. 12
- 2001 Blue Planet Prize recipient profile
- Conversation with Norman Myers at University of California Berkeley website
- Adjunct Professor Duke University