While the speed of current climatic changes is unprecedented, their ramifications are not. Floods and droughts, sea-level rise, advancing glaciers, and desertification do have a history, and the same is true for the social causes and aftermaths of such extreme natural events. Therefore, history provides a fertile field for the analysis of how societies have dealt with severe environmental changes, and the analysis of past extreme natural events yields interesting lessons for the current debate on ‘environmental migration’, even if they were not caused by climatic changes. This article examines historical case studies of a phenomenon that is arguably one of the greatest challenges of the future: migration and displacement triggered by environmental deterioration and destruction. While a wide range of studies focuses on the present and future of ‘environmental migration’, little research has been devoted to the long-term causes and effects of environmentally induced displacement. In other words: what is lacking is historical depth. Only by looking at the longue durée of environmental migration and displacement can we detect patterns of vulnerability and resilience, adequately describe the course and paths of displacement and fully acknowledge the aftermath of disaster diasporas.