Saturday, October 15, 2016

On climate change, vote like your life depended on the outcome ... by gimleteye

I agree completely with the following assessment. In the US, political noise is churning around plans to let in 65,000 Syrian refugees. Germany, alone, has taken in more than 10 times that number this year. Driving through the region now, I see refugees on the streets and know that the sectarian strife that is turning parts of the world inside out is caused, at least in part, by climate change. There is more, a lot more on the horizon.

Just last week, the British economist Sir Nicolas Stern -- who first clarified the threat of climate change as the greatest problem humanity has ever faced -- issued an even more dire prediction: that climate change could destroy the world economy. So far, this is the stuff of science fiction, but on the streets of European capitals, the outlines are coming clear.

The United States can't afford the political party, its candidates and incumbents who deny that government intervention is needed now to protect our national security from climate change impacts. In November, vote accordingly.

From: John Parker []
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2016
Subject: important election article from Dailykos

Xenophobia, Climate Change, and an Existential Flood of Humanity

By erict

There is a witches’ brew bubbling on the near horizon. Its two principle ingredients are climate change and xenophobia. Traditionally, war and sectarian violence are significant contributors to forced migrations of refugees, but, soon, these scourges may be relatively minor drivers of displaced populations when juxtaposed with the ravages of sea level rise. But before I get too far into a discussion of “future shock” scenarios, it is important to look at what has transpired in Europe over the past 18 months as refugees from Northern Africa and the Middle East have desperately tried to seek relative safety from catastrophe by fleeing their ravaged homelands.

Of the approximately 4 million displaced people who have fled from these regions of the world in 2015-16, about 1 million have made it to Europe. (For exact countries of origin and numbers of displaced peoples please see HERE.) What has transpired politically in the EU has been unnerving. There has been a stark rise in xenophobia. Angela Merkel’s popularity is at a five year low in Germany as a result of her pro-immigration stance. In France, Marine Le Pen is revitalizing the Front National, a far right, anti-immigrant, anti-semitic party. England voted to leave the European Union so that it could “control immigration” across its borders. It may not be an overstatement to argue that the EU has been shaken and quantifiably destabilized by the reaction to the arrival of 1 million displaced people trying to seek shelter from the political winds that have ravaged their home countries. In the United States, we are subjected on a daily basis to the venom spewed by Trump and anti-immigrant politicians about the threat that “aliens” pose to the welfare of the United States.

Add to this current foment an accelerator so powerful, so sweeping, that the effects of war pale in comparison. Paul Krugman in the NYT on Friday, October 7, 2016, joins the growing list of writers who raise the specter of climate change as an existential threat. He concludes his op-ed by stating, “There is, quite simply, no other issue this important, and letting it slide would be almost criminally irresponsible.”

Let me take one example that may elucidate Mr. Krugman’s claims. In a March, 2014, NYT article on rising sea levels and their impact in only ONE country - Bangladesh - Mr.Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India stated, “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.” Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rise as expected.

Think about that number, 50 million. If one million displaced people have destabilized the European Union, where do we go from here? The global table seems to be set for a foundational discussion on how we will react to displaced persons on the world stage, and, specifically for Americans, how we will move forward with our immigration policy. On the one hand, there is an argument to be made that the countries that have most contributed to climate change should be the ones that bear the largest responsibility for the displaced peoples. This suggests that tens of millions of people should be allowed to come to the US since their homes and livelihoods are/will be no longer available to them. On the other hand, politicians like Trump are doubling down on building walls and creating a “Fortress America” bunker mentality. If we peer down the path of this ill-fated decision tree a few subsequent steps, profoundly troubling questions arise. For instance, if we take a bunker mentality, if we build literal and figurative walls, what happens when the displaced people come over those walls? Do we deny their humanity? Do we corrall them? Do we pen them? Do we kill them? By the millions? And, if we deny, defy, deport, and dehumanize them, what are we doing to ourselves? to our psyches? to our cultural narrative? to Justice, Mercy, Compassion? to our very humanity?

And it goes further than that. My example of the travails of Bangladesh addresses the impact on only one country, one small low lying delta area.The low lying areas in every country on the planet will be similarly affected. Farm land will be salt infested, ground water will become brackish, flood zones will mushroom. How many hundreds of millions of people will flee to higher ground?

Naomi Klein, in her book, This Changes Everything, begins by pointing out the obvious fact that we do not have to DO anything to bring about these terraforming changes; we will bring about these changes by doing nothing. In this same vein, traditionalists encourage politicians that the way forward is to continue to privatize and exploit the public commons, lift restrictions on business and industry, and cut taxes to stimulate corporate growth, while choking off spending for the “common good”. Fundamentally, our economic system and “the way we do business” is at war with our ecological viability. As Klein frames the global impasse: “What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.” Climate justice requires us to change the narrative that we as a species tell about ourselves, our stewardship of and our relationship to this planet. As Reverend Barber might observe, cynical calculations that imply that there is an “acceptable price” that could justify entire regions of the planet disappearing, that could sanctify tens of millions having to abandon their befouled and desiccated lands, that could rationalize depriving future generations of the beauties of creation are morally monstrous, politically insane, and economically unsound.

So when you vote in this election cycle to elect the leaders that will have to face these existential policy questions and seismic economic shifts, participate like your humanity, your quintessential human essence is at stake. It may well be.

John Parker
Professor Emeritus
Environmental Science and Chemistry
Florida International University
Sent from my iPad


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Great Britian would vote against admitting immigrants given the fact that in the end, they are an island nation and could be swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. What will happen to them when the shoe turns on them and they begin looking for solid ground as they become immigrants themselves? They will wish they had stayed in the EU. It's like seeing a cat 10 hurricane coming, and doing nothing.

There are many changes, transitions, and threats that we must face during this next presidential watch, Your very life or death WILL depend on who you vote for. Vote for Hillary!

Anonymous said...

1441 Lincoln Road has a parking garage that sits below street level. Nothing they do on a federal level will help them. It is a local government and condominium owner problem. The city will just raise the streets leaving the all older buildings in Miami Beach below street level. This is now a private property owner problem. Nobody in office can help a condominium or private residence that sits below street level. The burden is on the private property owner. The sooner the city raises the streets the sooner private property owners will become bankrupt. Very evil twist.

Anonymous said...

We have to live and work in the future. If we don't, when the future arrives, we won't be ready. We will be unprepared, and it will be a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Vote like your lives, your children's lives and your grandchildren's lives depend on it. We are governed in this state by climate change deniers. All who are engaged in the lunacy of supporting the likes of Rubio, Scott, and are pledging their support for Drumpf will also lose all. VOTE Blue to survive!

Peachy Pie said...

World's population has gone from 4 billion about 40 years ago to over 7 billion. Wildlife population has decreased by at least 50% during that time. We are displacing and killing off the wildlife for the sake of unlimited human population increase. Prof. Parker wants us to accept millions of immigrants. How will we feed and house them, and what will happen to wildlife as a consequence of such an expanded living area for humans? Sounds like an apocalyptic scenario, for sure. You can't introduce such a number of homeless people into a society without a breakdown of all systems into total chaos. People in these low lying areas should stop having babies. Why bring more people into this tragic situation? Why don't any of the pundits address this issue of overpopulation?