How Will Climate Change Affect Refugees?

The way that the states of the European Union have dealt with the current and ongoing migration ‘crisis’ has been frustrating both for migrants seeking a better, safer life with basic human rights, and for current European citizens. These citizens have, for the most part, been relatively accommodating to the large numbers of people entering their countries. The most obvious representation of which is in Germany where migrants were handed gifts, and care and comfort packages by ordinary citizens upon arrival. 

However, the level of ineptitude and lack of planning for such mass migration has left the leaders of the EU completely embarrassed and those who reject calls for allowing more in, appear (or are presented as) heartless. This inability to foresee such a wave of migrants has led to unnecessary casualties, otherwise unwarranted fines for illegal immigration, and the encouragement of human trafficking amongst many others things. If this does not change, the next wave will hit us equally as hard, but we will have far less space for accommodation.

The next crisis will be as a result of climate change, according to Patrick Sykes in Foreign Affairs. The warming of our planet, and the melting of the ice-caps, and the rising tides will fully submerge countries like Tuvalu within 50 years. The fate of the Maldives is even worse, according to Sykes, who states that scientists have predicted its disappearance within 30 years.

If this does indeed happen to Pacific Island states such as Tuvalu, Nauru, and Kiribati, as well as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, what happens to the individuals who are forced to evacuate? According to CIA World Factbook, the populations of the four states mentioned in this post, from July 2015, are:

Tuvalu: 10,869
The Maldives: 393,253
Nauru: 9,540
Kiribati: 105,711

The total population of just these four states is 519,373. That is a lot of people to relocate. This being said, the international community (if that really means anything) does have the time to orchestrate an escape plan. This would gradually make the host populations more receptive to the new immigrants, and would give the evacuees time to adjust to their new environments.

Yet undoubtedly, as stubborn Americans do when preparing for hurricanes, some would refuse to leave. And why should they have to? If we are to believe that humankind is accelerating the process of global warming, then we must slow it down. I’m not starting a geological-scientific debate here because I am less than adequately versed on the topic. What I am doing is pointing out that, if we act on climate change now, we can prevent Sykes’ prediction from coming true. We can save the lives of 520,000 people. And we can help preserve our Earth for our future.

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