How a Warming Planet Drives Human Migration

GR:  Thoughts on Climate Change

The climate news today (and really every day now) is not good. The Times article below focuses on just one of the bad bits. Global warming and consequent shifts in weather patterns are stressing everyone, but especially those people living in equatorial regions. Droughts, fires, and floods are becoming intolerable. The emerging climate-change-driven diaspora will carry the stress north and south into temperate latitudes. Projections made by many scientists in the U. S., European Union, and Asia portray a dismal future for Earth and humanity.

A Glimpse of Future Earth

Climate-change emigrants and their descendents moving north will not escape the ravages of a warming planet for very long. Stresses in northern latitudes have already begun. As the human population squeezes north to find food and water, resources will dwindle and conflicts will intensify. Nature in even the diminished form that we see now will sink toward unsustainable levels where wild plants and animals, then watersheds, then soils, and then fresh water are lost.

As I look out across my fields of invasive weeds and my ponds and small stream choked with artificially fertilized algae and filled with invasive animals, I remember the sunflowered fields and sparkling creek of my history. As the pace of climate change accelerates, “the good old days” will become a meaningful phrase for younger and younger people facing a constant need to adapt to more difficult times.

Want to keep up with the changes? The Daily Climate carries the best selection of current stories I’ve found. The Daily Climate included a link to the story below along with dozens of others. (Header image:  A farmer tries to revive his unconscious cow. Photo by CNN.)

Illustration by La Tigre.

“Climate change is not equal across the globe, and neither are its longer term consequences. This map overlays human turmoil — represented here by United Nations data on nearly 64 million “persons of concern,” whose numbers have tripled since 2005 — with climate turmoil, represented by data from NASA’s Common Sense Climate Index. The correlation is striking. Climate change is a threat multiplier: It contributes to economic and political instability and also worsens the effects. It propels sudden-onset disasters like floods and storms and slow-onset disasters like drought and desertification; those disasters contribute to failed crops, famine and overcrowded urban centers; those crises inflame political unrest and worsen the impacts of war, which leads to even more displacement. There is no internationally recognized legal definition for “environmental migrants” or “climate refugees,” so there is no formal reckoning of how many have left their homes because climate change has made their lives or livelihoods untenable. In a 2010 Gallup World Poll, though, about 12 percent of respondents — representing a total of 500 million adults — said severe environmental problems would require them to move within the next five years.

  1. ‘Amazon Basin: As glacial melting reduces freshwater reserves for the Andean plain, tensions are growing between locals and the mining and agribusiness operations that consume much of what remains. Researchers predict that this resource conflict will drive more migrants to the Amazon Basin where many have already turned to informal mining and coca cultivation, fueling the rise of criminal syndicates.

  2. “Lake Chad, 3. Syria, 4. China, 5. Philippines” –Jessica Benko (New York Times: Continue reading.)

A Survey of the “War on Wildlife”: How Conflict Affects Conservation

GR: Conflicts should perhaps be included in the list of the top nature destroying human activities. This gives us construction and farming, global warming, invasive species, pesticides and toxic wastes, soil erosion, resource harvesting (deforestation, fishing, and hunting), and conflict. As global warming advances, conflict will probably move up in the list.

“Over the last 60 years, more than two-thirds of the world’s remaining biodiversity hotspots have experienced armed conflict. The effects have been myriad, from destruction as a result of military tactics to indirect socioeconomic and political changes, like human migration and displacement. This so-called “war on wildlife” has important implications for conservation and peacebuilding efforts, according to a recent literature review published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.“

“Through armed conflict, global socioeconomic and political dynamics can ultimately threaten local animal populations and the vulnerable human communities that rely on their services,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, lead author of the study, via email.

“The paper, a collaboration between natural and social scientists at the University of California-Berkeley, categorizes 144 case studies around the world that illustrate direct or indirect links between armed conflict and critical wildlife populations, from African elephants in Angola to mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

“The results of the literature review show a clear trend towards “non-tactical” pathways of conflict affecting wildlife more than tactical. Non-tactical pathways include changing institutional dynamics (83 cases), movements of people (81 cases), and altered economies (84 cases).” –Bethany N. Bella (Continue: A Survey of the “War on Wildlife”: How Conflict Affects Conservation.)

Meet Sherri Goodman, who in two words made the military care about climate change

 

Gr: The U. S. military takes the “threat multiplier” effect of climate change very seriously. Here’s why.

“The Age of Consequences” Climate Film and Speaking Tour

“The Buzzfeed story lead says it all: “Meet the woman whose two-word catchphrase made the military care about climate” . That woman is Sherri Goodman, and she will be in Australia in early April. And the film about climate change and the military will be on ABC TV’s 4 Corners next Monday night.

“The national security dimension of climate change receives little attention in Australia, but is the subject of intense focus overseas, particularly in the United States. Climate change interacts with other pre-existing problems to become an accelerant to instability in unexpected ways. Scarce resources, growing water scarcity, declining crop yields, rising food prices, extreme weather events and health impacts become catalysts for instability and conflict, especially in Asia. This has profound implications for Australia, economically and socially, quite apart from the climate change impact on Australia itself.

“The Age of Consequences” on 4 Corners

“You are unlikely to ever see another climate film like “The Age of Consequences”, so tune into 4 Corners at 8.30pm on Monday night, and find out how the US military really see the challenges of global warming. And yes, they really do get it. A lot better than most politicians.

SCREENING DETAILS: “The Age of Consequences”, from PBS International, directed by Jared P Scott and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 20 March at 8.30pm EDT. Replayed on Tuesday 21 March at 10.00am and Wednesday 22 at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8pm, and at ABC iview.

“This striking documentary investigates the accelerating impact of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Through unflinching case-study analysis, distinguished admirals, generals and military veterans take us beyond the headlines of the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, and the European refugee crisis – and lay bare how climate change interacts with societal tensions, sparking conflict. Whether long-term vulnerabilities or sudden shocks, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise function as “accelerants of instability” and “catalysts for conflict” in volatile regions of the world.

“Age of Consequences” Speaking Tour

“Sherri Goodman will be touring Australia in the first week of April. As well as meeting with government, business, and national security think-tanks, and extensive media engagement, Ms Goodman will be speaking at three public events (use the “Continue reading” link below to get event details).

“Sherri Goodman is a former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security. From 2001-2015, she served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of CNA, a non-profit research body that provides analyses and solutions for national security leaders. Sherri is also the Founder and Executive Director of the CNA Military Advisory Board whose landmark reports include “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” (2007), and “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change” (2014).

Climate Threat-Multiplier Events We Cannot Ignore

“So what will you learn from “The Age of Consequences” and Sherri Goodman? Here are a few starters:

“ARAB SPRING:  Per capita, the world’s top nine wheat importers are in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2010, a heatwave and wild fires in Ukraine and Russia, and a “once-in-a-century” winter drought in China, resulted in wheat shortages and a global wheat price spike, with rocketing bread prices across the Middle East. Food riots resulted in countries such as Egypt, where basic food costs are one-third of household budget, and became a trigger for the “Arab Spring”.

“SYRIA:  From 2006-2010, sixty per cent of Syria had its worst long-term drought and crop failures since civilisation began. 800,000 people in rural areas had lost their livelihood by 2009. Two-to-three million people were driven into extreme poverty, and 1.5 million people migrated to Syrian cities, which had already received a similar number of Iraqi war refugees. The cities grew very rapidly, as did food and apartment prices. The resultant social breakdown, state failure, and the rise of Islamic State was a reaction to a regime unable to adequately respond, but global and regional climatic changes were major underlying causes.

EUROPEAN MIGRATION CRISIS:  The European migration crisis is an example of reciprocal interactions between intersecting crisis becoming an accelerant to instability in unexpected ways, with the intersection of: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and displacement; the civil war in Syria; the Arab Spring and displacement across the Maghreb; and drought and desertification, war and displacement across the Sahel.

BANGLADESH:  Bangladesh is the ground zero of climate change. A one-metre sea level rise will flood 20% of the land mass and displace 30 million people. India has surrounded Bangladesh with a double security “climate refugee” fence patrolled by 80,000 troops.

“This is a world we ignore at our peril.” –Climate Code Red (Continue reading:  Climate Code Red: Meet Sherri Goodman, who in two words made the military care about climate change.)