Wednesday, January 31, 2007

THE THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEES

Is this not my worst nightmare realized? Is this not what I have been warning you about? Screaming about? Check out the Headline of the January 30th, 2007 edition of the Vancouver Sun: "BC FACES FUTURE FLOOD OF 'CLIMATE REFUGEES': RCMP, Police report warns of a potentially overwhelming influx of people if global warming forces millions to flee Bangladesh and other countries." Ecologist William Rees calls the report a credible scenario and says that a one metre rise in sea level would translate into tens, maybe hundreds of millions of refugees globally. Current illegal Mexican immigration into the US would seem like a picnic in comparison.

But here's where Rees is wrong, dead wrong. He goes on to say, like all soft-headed greens, that we would have a serious moral obligation to assist them. No, we have a serious moral obligation not to swamp our own lifeboat. At present we can't sustain the 32 million who are here and if we take on the tens of millions who want to clamor aboard we will not sustain them either. We'll simply succeed in drowning all of us. There are no moral dilemnas here. To be compassionate toward ourselves we must be callous to those who, I must say this, will likely be just the first 100 million of 5 1/2 billion to die of other causes ---oil and gas depletion, biodiversity collapse, epidemics-- in the next two decades. The fortress mentality is a morally defensible one when your very survival is at stake. If we don't start thinking that way as a nation, then people will start thinking that way as individuals. In fact survivalism is rampant on the internet. Having given up on the politicians, people in Canada are talking about establishing bunkers or remote homesteads and provisioning them with food and munitions to ward off starving marauders. Can I imagine myself shooting refugees from the third world or a Canadian city? No, but I could imagine myself shooting the Green quisling who opened the floodgates to let them in. I can imagine shooting a Kathryn Molloy of the Sierra Club, who was so concerned over Christmas that "Rudolf" the Rocky Mountain Cariboo would lose his habitat that she wanted my ten dollar donation to save it, but no doubt would be one of those Greens who would help 20 million Bangledeshis onto our lifeboat and squeeze Rudolph's habitat out of existence.

With the kind of numbers Rees is talking about, you can forget about your "Steady State Economy". Growth will be exponential. You can also forget about reducing greenhouse emissions. Whatever your emission standards, there will just be more of everything generating emissions. Sixty, seventy, eighty million Canadians will crush remaining habitat and exhaust remaining fisheries. And you'd better hope that there's enough oil left to allow transport and import of foodstuffs, because remaining farmland will be covered in the housing needed to shelter the tens of millions of refugees. Even now the apple orchards outside London Ontario are being chopped down for housing and apples are being brought in from Mexico. What are Londoners going to do for apples when the oil runs out?

It seems that you will have to make a decision. You will have to soon decide whether you are an authentic environmentalist or a refugee advocate. Whether your commitment is to environmental rights first, or whether your priority after all the green bafflegab is really just human rights. Is man's relationship to nature not more fundamental and primary than man's relationship to man? You will also have to re-examine the meaning of compassion. Is it compassionate to place greater importance on the welfare of outsiders at the cost of the welfare of those close to home?

This is an example of the Great Divide I have been talking about. It's an unresolved argument amongst the passengers in our lifeboat that had better be settled before the refugees swim toward us.

There is one more thing about that RCMP police report that disturbs me. It talks about the "expected" flood of climate change refugees into Canada. Why is it expected? Why is it assumed that we'll be taking them in? Will Canadians have any say in this matter? Just because an ecologist at UBC says its our moral responsibility, and 10,000 churchmen and academics agree with him does that mean its government policy? Its funny how decision-makers have learned to take us for granted! Or will they simply overwhelm us? How will they arrive--as boat people? And they can't be repelled? Its odd that in the Second World War we put a million men in uniform, 10% of our population, and spent 10s of thousands of their lives purportedly to ward off a foreign invasion, but when faced with an invasion of this danger we would lie down and roll over? We send troops to fight in Afghanistan but we wouldn't defend our own borders? Help me out with this scenario. Tell me why it must be inevitable that we would accept an influx of tens of millions of climate change refugees.

5 comments:

Steve said...

Wow, that's some pretty racist stuff. You really believe that we should be preparing to use force to "repel" a "foreign invasion" of refugees? I guess its part of a larger trend for right wing extremists to misappropriate the language of environmentalism to promote white supremacy. Luckily, people like you and Paul Watson are rightly regarded as part of a lunatic fringe of racists within the environmental justice movement. Lots of us are just as committed to fighting racists like you as we are to fighting corporate environmental destruction.

-- Steve, London, ON

Richard said...

Then, Steve, you do not understand human nature. People will do what they have to do to get ahead. The corporate world is full of back stabbers, and ass kissers. They will lie to get ahead, they will betray to get ahead. If it wasn’t illegal, they would murder to get ahead.

So imagine what people will do when there is dwindling energy and people have to jockey for food.

Cynical? No realistic. This is how people are.

Once things start to fall apart, once the collapse of society starts, our obligation is to our own families first. Then to those in the community second. Refugees are not even in the picture.

What we have here is a conflict of human rights. You, sir, DO NOT have the authority to dictate to me who has trumpable human rights, my family or people from other countries. For me it’s my family, and anyone who would want to put their own family in peril over some twisted ideology… well, I could make a label for them. But at the least they should be ashamed of themselves.

Even if you look at it from a climate change perspective, you want Canada to reduce its CO2 emissions, but bringing more people here will just increase our CO2. So how the hell do you expect us to meet Kyoto when you stack the deck against us by having more people consume more resources? Stop with the name-calling, and answer that basic question.

Richard
Komoka, Ont.

Tim Murray said...
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Tim Murray said...
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Tim Murray said...

I suppose being called a right-wing lunatic extremist racist is a rite of passage for anyone posting anti-immigration views on a blog. It was quite predictable. This guy Steve from somewhere near London, Ontario apparently thinks name-calling suffices for constructive criticism, a self-proclaimed environmentalist who won't come out an tell us how he plans to protect his environment from the 20 million new consumers from Bangledesh he wants to admit to Canada as climate change refugees. Its just easier to call somebody a racist than to face up to his own contradictions.

Then there is Dr. Bill Rees, a famous and eminent ecologist at UBC. He too would dispute my position on climate change refugees. But his is not the knee-jerk, emotive reaction of the politically correct. His approach is reasoned, not vituperative. He thinks migration is bad for the global environment and immigration bad for us too. So he is not stupid. His issue with me was this: the people displaced by rising sea levels will have lost their homes because of our excessive consumption, so we are morally culpable. We did a number on them, so we owe it to them to give them a new home. My answer? Its analagous to what politicians once said a decade or so ago about the cod fishery. "The economy of Newfoundland requires that cod fisherman be able to make a living catching cod so let them go out there and continue fishing." Well, what the economy requires, or what we want, is irrelevant. Its what the environment will sustain. And in this case it couldn't sustain any more cod fishing. Case closed. Similarly, when someone says that we have a moral responsibility to admit 10 or 20 million climate change refugees or any other refugees, it is irrelevant. It may very well BE our moral responsibility--I would disagree, but let's assume so. The point, however, is that a healthy biodiversity in Canada, as proven by Millenium Assessment studies, cannot tolerate those numbers or even sustain the population we currently have at the current consumption rates. Its not what we may want or have a moral responsibility to do, its the limits we must obey. And I would argue that our real moral responsibility is to abide by those limits. Because if we don't, habitat dies and the ecosystem services which support human population in Canada dies. And any refugees that make it here will perish along with us. This is the Hard Truth I am trying to tell. Calling me "a right-wing lunatic extremist" with a "racist" agenda will not change that Truth. There are limits to economic and population growth in Canada and North America because there is a such thing as a carrying capacity--and we've already exceeded it.

And now, Steve, who ever you are, back to you. Let me tell you about this particular "right-wing racist extremist". I have worked for, donated to, voted for, and supported the NDP for 39 years and have read the complete works of Karl Marx which still sit in my library. One of my favourite environmentalists is Fidel Castro who has done wonders in creating a model of agrarian self-sufficiency for the world. Four people in my family are Asian, three Chinese and one Vietnamese and I love them dearly and I have good Asian friends in a place that's 95% Causcasian. Kind of blew your stereotype didn't I Steve? Not quite what you imagined in an "extreme right-wing lunatic racist" eh? And I didn't even give you my environmentalist resume. Or talk about the many NDPers who support an end to population and economic growth.

My position on racism is exactly that of Paul Watson when he was asked if he opposed Mexican migration to California because he didn't like Mexicans. He replied that he didn' care if 100% of California was Mexican, as it once was, because ethnic composition was not the issue. The runaway population growth of California was the issue. The environment trumps any human rights agenda. And Paul Watson a racist? Then he'd have to hate his kid, the product of a mixed marriage. The race card is always played by the politically correct when they can't answer your questions with reasoned debate. Steve you are pathetic. The Canada your trendy soft green feel-good policies will bring us is one on the brink of collapse. If you position me alongside the corporate establishment you claim to fight, I position you with the CEO of Exon-Mobil. You are both equally dangerous, but morally you stand even more condemned than the captains of industry because draw away people who want to save the planet down an ineffectual road.