Thursday, October 05, 2017

Europe First But We'll All Get There Eventually

When it comes to climate change, Canada's political caste of all stripes and persuasions, is solidly united.  Liberal, Conservative and NDP, they all believe in talking about it as little as possible lest they might have to take some obvious but unwelcome positions. Instead, they much prefer to whistle past the graveyard.

One of the "must not mention" topics is climate migration.  There's going to be mass migrations of people away from the equator toward the poles. It's not going to be a matter of choice for these migrants beyond the choice of life or death.  Your ancestors might have lived in the same place since time immemorial but if you can't keep your family alive there any longer you have to get them to a place where they can survive. That's the "THEM" narrative.

Then there's the "US" narrative. It's the, pardon the pun, polar opposite, the yin to their yang. It's the situation confronting the nations of temperate climate.  Gwynne Dyer put it best when he wrote that, when it comes to climate change, each nation's gravest threat is that nation that lies between it and the equator. In the northern hemisphere that means the folks to the south.

The "US" narrative is analogous to the overloaded lifeboat scenario. The storm (climate change) is rising and we cannot risk swamping the lifeboat by taking on any more people. This is the dynamic at play now between Europe and Africa.

The editors of Foreign Policy  have just released a multi-part special investigation into the gathering struggle that pits the peoples of Africa against the people of Europe.  Among other things it explores how human smugglers may have displaced jihadis as the greatest threat to European security. There is a somewhat gruesome look at how Europe has outsourced migrant control in Libya, Niger and elsewhere, turning migrants into "commodities to be captured, sold and traded like slaves."

In a word, Europe's situation is "chaotic" and it's an invaluable lesson for Canadians and our leaders.  Our day of reckoning is unknown but it's also inevitable and it won't just be a matter of Latin Americans. The nation that lies immediately between us and the equator is also going to be burdened with a significant internally displaced population, American-born climate migrants displaced by rising sea levels and coastal inundation; severe storm events of increasing frequency, intensity and duration; life threatening heatwaves and the collapse of over-exploited groundwater resources. What then, what does that hold for Canada?

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