It has been with great sadness that I have followed the news over the last months about the immigration issue in a number of countries and the rising cost of food and fuel. Seems we are gearing up for a great crisis of (probably) Biblical proportions as the perfect storm of climate change, economics and population collide.
Climate change has been making some places wetter than they have been for many years, but more places are getting drier. Think of California and Arizona that have been desirable places to live — seems we encountered them at an unusually wet period and they are now returning to the more normal dryness. But the millions of people who moved there and are now dependent upon a diminishing water supply, what will happen to them?
On a more serious note, think of the large areas of India, China, sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and the US Great Plains that are drying out — and the populations that depend upon these areas for food. Or on the other hand, the populations that live in areas just above sea level that are gradually losing their land to rising sea levels and increasingly fierce storms.
A technical solution to these problems would be to use energy to move water great distances to provide irrigation. But with the demise of interest in nuclear power and lagging research in solar, the only real power source is to burn things. This of course adds to the problem of climate change.
In the past, when climate change made an area inhospitable, the populations would move on to someplace else. I suspect that is why mankind spread from its cradle in Africa to cover the globe. I think that historically, changing conditions has been the driver for huge migrations from one place to another — not just seeking something better but fleeing something worse. Remember, at one point the Sahara desert was a place of water and green where our ancestors lived and left their marks. I am sure those people went someplace else — though it would have taken a while.
So here we are — conditions building in a number of places around the globe where people will be starving in large numbers. But the globe has been Balkanized into numerous areas that jealously guard their particular turf and try to protect it from all comers. The barricades are up, so to speak. And woe to anyone who is caught inside without the right papers. (See recent news items about US Immigration raids and the involvement of local police in deportations.) And let us not forget that ‘terrorists’ are likely to be people unhappy about their situation, angry and willing to do something to express their anger.
So just try to imagine this — pressure building around the world for another huge wave of human migration. And the guys on the border armed and ready with hardened attitudes and hostile intent. I do not think it takes much imagination to see how these will collide. And I do not think that there is anything that can be done to keep the affected populations where they are — except to kill them all (most likely by neglect).
It would be much more hopeful if there were any signs that our ‘leaders’, anywhere, could see this coming and work to prepare for it — what may be the greatest migration in human history. And such huge areas that were once inhospitable, like Siberia or Northern Canada, that are sparsely populated now. But such vision seems non-existent. Seems like they are far too concerned about their golf buddies getting a chunk of the public purse ‘reconstructing’ a country those same leaders destroyed or … (the list seems endless and penetrates into almost every corner).
I fear for the world that my children will be raising their families in. The rich growing more rich and arrogant, the rest pushed into poverty. The growing forces for people to move elsewhere and the treasury squandered to make sure they don’t. How many will die before the barricades come down? How much will be lost — besides our humanity?