The Climate Series- Climate Change and the Refugee Crisis
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
Climate change has caused a multitude of issues that continue to affect the international community, resulting in absurd weather patterns, natural disasters and the effect on wildlife. However, the creation of war over finite resources, the wild consumption of goods and the over-production of animals in order to fuel a rapidly growing western population has ultimately left others suffering the consequences.
These environmental impacts have created a new category of refugee and resulted in the mass displacement of large communities. The sheer devastation of these events often result in the destruction of homes and farmland, furthering the scarcity of accessible resources. Thus, creating a dependency on humanitarian aid from wealthier countries, with hopes of seeking asylum. Central America became a prime example of mass displacement, when it was hit by two tropical hurricanes (Eta and Lota) within just two weeks of each other. The severity of these storms destroyed large parts of Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, with many flooding into Mexico, most with hopes of crossing the US border.
As the world population rate continues to rise, and the need to meet the demand also increases, this further fuels the overconsumption and overproduction of goods and services. This is exemplified in the mass deforestation of areas within the Amazon to facilitate animal grazing- that is currently fuelling the intensity of the meat industry. Animal agriculture is a number one source of carbon-dioxide, nitrous-oxide, and methane emissions- the top three greenhouse gasses. Westerners are mostly to blame for this tendency to overconsume, and are at the forefront of enabling the danger of freak natural events, in which developing nations suffer the consequences.
The occurrence of these events are only set to become even more frequent and devastating unless these issues are seriously addressed, and world leaders come together to demand action. At the 47th G7 summit that was most recently held in Cornwall, there was an emphasis encouraging action to "help vulnerable communities build resilience to climate change". Following through with providing "an initial £5 billion in humanitarian assistance to 42 countries at risk of catastrophe or famine". The question arises, has this motivation to support others arisen a little too late?
In his most recent book "A life on our planet" David Attenborough detailed the catastrophic impact caused by humanity, and detailed that we are within a crucial, short period in which we have the ability to "turn things around" and save our planet. Referred to as his 'witness statement' Attenborough shared his deeply thought out solutions to giving the earth a new lease of life. I was particularly drawn to his statement regarding over population, and strains on resources, in which he stated:
"To slow the population growth rate, we need to raise people out of poverty, improve access to healthcare globally and enable children, especially girls, to stay in school for as long as possible".
Interestingly enough, those of us in the Western community are key players in enforcing these changes. It is up to us as individuals to devote our daily lives to making small adaptations that will benefit the planet. In addition, we have the liberality, as well as the democratic power to call upon our governments for this change, to protect ourselves and most importantly, the vulnerable communities who are at the brut of this climate disaster.
David Attenborough- A Life on Our Planet.