Norman Myers BA (Oxford 1958) PhD (Berkeley 1973) (born 24 August 1934), is a British environmentalist specialising in biodiversity. He is an influential figure among policy and institutional circles, although much of his more prominent work - such as on Environmental refugees' - is widely viewed as lacking academic credibility. He is the father of marathon runner Mara Yamauchi, and lives in Headington, UK.
Myers has written on a broad range of environmental issues, notably population pressures, developing country poverty, over-consumption, unsustainable agriculture, climate change, and environmental security. More recently, he has written about climate refugees; perverse subsidies; food and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa; and new consumers in developing and transition countries. His main contributions include work on mass extinction of species and the problems of tropical deforestation. He was integral to the development of the concept of biodiversity hotspots. His work on political ecology is notable for its neo-Malthusianism and he is a patron of Population Matters (formerly the Optimum Population Trust).
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.
Myers' widely cited work on 'climate refugees' has been criticised by social scientists, and migration scholars in particular. Myers has himself described his conclusions regarding 'environmental refugees' as 'heroic extrapolation' due to a lack of actual data on the phenomenon. However, his work on this issue is nevertheless widely cited among non-specialists, and as such continues to inform much of the contemporary discussion on 'environmental refugees'. Although his work is particularly influential among NGOs and policy actors, as it provides estimates of future 'environmental refugee' flows, it has significantly less currency among many professional migration researchers, who cite the continuing controversy regarding the definition of 'environmental refugee', and thus the impossibility of enumerating them.
In April 2011, the UN was reported to have been 'embarrassed' by relying on Myers' prediction, in 2005, that there would be up to 50 million 'environmental refugees' 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."
- 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