From Plenty to Devastation
Little attention has been paid in the U.S. press about the cataclysmic movements of the seas into coastal communities around the world, but the flooding of those areas is part of the inexorable catastrophe that is our global climate crisis. Estimates vary, but it is conservatively predicted by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) that coastal climate migrants’ numbers will reach between 250 million and 500 million people between now and 2050. Most of those people will come from the Third World (“Have-not”) states south of the Equator and they will head north to the First World’s (“Have”) states above the Equator.
These population groups will be massively disadvantaged — and will bring their disadvantages with them — to a country and city near YOU.
First, they won’t speak your language.
Second, they lack education that will allow them to integrate into your economy.
Third, they come from cultures that are fundamentally different from yours.
Fourth, the northern countries will be overwhelmed with demands for food, water, housing, schools, jobs, health care — the basic infrastructure of life.
Fifth, their sudden appearance en masse will trigger strong, anti-migrant reactions on the part of people living in the northern countries. The northerners’ “reptile brain” functions will be invoked to react against “foreigners,” especially the dark-complected ones who don’t speak “our” language or live the way “we” do.
If there were a few hundred thousand up to perhaps 10 million climate refugees per year, it would be terrible to be them, but people in the north could accommodate them through a rational system for dealing with climate migrants. Their numbers could be shifted through European, Russian, Central Asian, East Asian, and North American countries, and the burdens on each country to absorb the new immigrants would be relatively light and manageable. But the northern part of the world is simply not prepared to be the shock absorber for the southern world’s have-not refugees from the climate crisis.
The IOM figures also don’t address the internal difficulties each of the recipient countries will have in coping with the flood of refugees.
For example, in the United States, we have not had significant, substantial immigration reform for 54 years. Since 1965, the U.S. Congress has dithered over the immigration system, but has not taken structural reform to heart. As a result, we’ve had tinkering with the immigration laws, but they have been excessively political and have led to the catastrophe we currently see at play on our border with Mexico.
Imagine what it would be like if, instead of having 130,000 refugees on our border, we had to deal with 13 million, every month. We can’t cope with a refugee trash-can fire; how much less able would we be in the face of a massive forest fire the size of Northern California? Yet that’s exactly where we are right now.
People justifiably complain about the concentration camps on our border with Mexico. Well, that’s what happens when you have no detention policies to speak of, and you have to restrain refugees through brute force.
Our corporate overlords have been buying our educational systems so we can’t critically think; paying for our Congress and state legislatures so our political voices are silenced; influencing our judiciary so justice will be denied; and paying for the rape of Mother Earth so their profits will be enhanced.
When the Maldives are under water, along with all of Micronesia, much of Hawai’i, most of San Francisco, Miami, New York, and many places in the Mediterranean, then the Northerners might wake up to the fact that the climate crisis is real.
But if we don’t grasp that fact now, and institute structural reform ahead of the looming climate refugee crisis predicted by the IOM and many others, then we will see entire coastal communities wiped out and inland communities subjected to regimes of crisis control that they can’t handle.
The ingredients for structural reform are contained within the so-called Green New Deal (GND). Will the GND be costly? Yes. But consider the costs of the alternative: loss of hundreds of millions of acres of land, commercial areas, homes, schools, hospitals, religious centers, and, most importantly, millions of people killed or forced into history’s greatest migration, bringing devastation to every corner of the earth, not because they are “bad” people, but because their sheer numbers will overwhelm the carrying capacity of the lands to which they will travel.
And with the threat of being overwhelmed, those on the receiving end of the refugee tide will do everything necessary to push it back. Militarization of the borders, mass killings (all in the name of “national security”), demonization of the refugees and their cultures in order to justify the killings, these and many more things will be seen in the face of the sea of refugees.
Don’t forget another vital fact: the world’s next Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Jonas Salk, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Hawking, or Mother Teresa might be killed or prevented from being born as the result of the catastrophe of the global climate emergency.
The GND will cost probably $130 — $150 trillion dollars.
The costs of the global climate emergency are estimated to cost no less than $400 — $500 trillion dollars. Additionally, the costs to human progress are immeasurable. The worldwide destruction of communications, intercultural exchanges, economics, science and technology, arable lands and water systems, the threats to the oceans, the extinction of thousands and possibly millions of species, all speak to our collective planetary suicide.
Imagine: forcing ourselves to participate in an environmentally-induced world war, where seven and a half to eight billion of us die between now and the end of this century. What would that world look like? Would we be reduced to living in caves? Underground cities? Floating island-cities? Would we be forced to live in a real-life version of Water World?
The planet Earth has hosted myriad forms of life over the last four billion years. Geological ages have come and gone; continents have moved and shifted the weather and the climate; mankind has evolved over the last four million years from tree-dwellers, to bi-pedal inhabitants of the savannah, to cave dwellers, to the creators of vast empires. We have transitioned from animals to those whose vision extends to the stars, all within the span of perhaps the last thousand centuries.
But within that 100,000 years, we still harbor our reptilian brains, our lust for power, our “Us” versus “Them” mentality. And with that primitive motivating factor, coupled with our genius for making weaponry, is it any surprise that we are, as a species, living at 11:58 P.M. on our human civilization clock?
Unless we wake up and collectively and individually decide that today, now is the time to start living truly human lives, reducing our addictions to needless things, living in balance with nature, getting rid of our dependence on hydrocarbon-based energy, we will soon be faced with the terrifying consequences of ignoring that necessary decision.