Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Testing the World's Will

Television news does a very good job of covering disasters.  Now, it is the flow of refugees from Syria and other Middle East or North African countries streaming in to Austria, Germany... passing through Hungary where the government does not want more workers, but is willing to pass them on and the people are turning out to help in a humanitarian way.

Television news does not do a very good job of digging in to the root causes of the story.  The "fleeing ISIS" motive is real enough to be all they need.  It is easy to understand.  It has a villain to blame.   But the problems in Syria come more from the reality of a multi-year drought.  With flocks and fields failing to support the rural existence, many Syrians fled to the cities where there was no work.  The unrest that followed is what we have seen, again and again, whether you want to blame the Assad regime or ISIS. 

For this type of news, you need to turn to alternate media, such as this post yesterday by Joe Romm at Climate Progress.   He clearly links the Syrian crisis to climate change.  More importantly, he warns us all that, unless the US makes major changes, we will be the target of an even greater climate driven mass migration.  While Donald Trump is railing against our porous borders and the fact that they allow relatively easy access to the US for those willing to risk the desert, we find that almost all of the Republican Candidates for POTUS have prepared some version of a "stop the immigration" position. 

Romm makes our choices clear:
Given the current political debate over immigration policy, it’s worth asking two questions. First: if the United States, through our role as the greatest cumulative carbon polluter in history, plays a central role in rendering large parts of Mexico and Central America virtually uninhabitable, where will the refugees go? And second: will we have some moral obligation to change our immigration policy?
While every current candidate of the major parties is treating this as a policy, their basis changes.  Some would protect our economy, workers jobs, the rule of law, or in Trump's case, provide safety on our streets, not a single one has come forward to treat this as a moral issue.  To do so would have ramifications that they dare not consider. If climate refugees becomes a moral issue, then surely we must act to prevent it.  Leave the fossil fuels in the ground until we have no other choice would be a good beginning.  Do we have the political will to do this?

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