According to the World Bank, by 2050 some 140 million people may be displaced by sea-level rise and extreme weather, driving escalations in crime, political unrest, and resource conflict. Even if the most conservative predictions about our climate future prove overstated, a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature during the next century will almost certainly provoke chaos, in what experts call climate change’s “threat multiplier”: Displacement begets desperation begets disorder.
First, let’s be clear. Immigration is a problem. So is emigration. Climate change will make both catastrophically worse. Most reliable estimates of the carrying capacity of the planet by mid-century fall in the range of 1 to 2 billion. By “reliable,” I mean science-based and factoring in the effects of rapid climate change on agriculture, water supplies, sea level rise, vector-borne disease, and biodiversity destruction. Some, like the Limits to Growth sequelae, even take microplastics into account through a morbid pollution equation.
Since 1980, a period that includes all 20 of the warmest years in recorded history and 18 of the 20 most intense hurricane seasons in the satellite era, losses in the United States from storms, wildfires, and droughts topped $1.6 trillion — nearly a third of which occurred in just the last five years. And this exponential destruction is just the beginning of what David Wallace-Wells, in his book “The Uninhabitable Earth,” calls the Great Dying: a worldwide economic decline, sharply deteriorated living conditions, disruption to basic government functions and widespread hunger. Looking deeper still into the future, the predictions are even more dire.
Ripple effects from the African drought were felt in distant capitals like London and Paris, where anti-immigrant factions were happily empowered. While the US is buffered by oceans, the contagious meme had no problem crossing the Atlantic. If you tune to beltway babble these days, a major chord is our “crisis” on the Southern Border. This plays well in the Bible belt because desert religions are all about scarcity, sea people invading, and Pharoah casting out the righteous, who go about looking for a savior. At first glance, statistics seem to bear out President Cobblepot, which is perhaps why so many Democratic legislators have been lured into borrowing billions of dollars from future non-existent taxpayers to patch a nonexistent problem, at least for the present.
Cobblerpot’s “crisis,” like the BREXIT meme contagion, is manufactured; built on a cascade of faulty-logic US immigration policies rather than by climate-related famines or US-intervention-based death-squad-blowback in Central America.
To better prepare for the future, stop the bombing refugees and start planting forests. Yemen is a good place to start. For the price of one F-35 ($100 million and $10,000 per hour to fly) you could employ the displaced, planting trees and seeing them through to forest.