The climate refugee crisis

By Tooka Pourgive

12 January 2019

Prior to becoming the United nations Secretary General, his excellency, Mr. António Guterres emphasised the imminent involuntary migration patterns and permanent displacement of populations due to climatic changes. However, climate refugees have neither a legally binding status internationally, nor are they recognised by UNHCR in clearly defined terms of its mandate.

The worst natural disasters of 2018 were the simultaneous earthquake and Tsunami that hit Indonesian island of Sulawesi in September, followed by another Tsunami that hit the islands of Java and Sumatra which left 80,000 and 22,000 people displaced respectively, and resulted in an overall death toll of 2,430 people.

The world’s population is 7.7 billion. From an economic perspective, the threat factor is driven by resource scarcity, a constant production line and a rising demand. Let this phrase sink in: “about a quarter of the world’s population consumes three-quarters of the world’s primary energy”.

The symbol of development is the city. Half of humanity resides in cities that are expanding, and by 2050, two thirds of the population will be living in urban areas. Urban sprawl, or the “uncontrollable spread of urban development” is problematic for people as many are evicted and those remaining have to endure the lingering noise and air pollution.

The negative contributions of urbanism to the environment are deforestation, the rapid extinction of biodiversity, the inevitable climate change, the contamination of water and soil and the increasing dangers of nuclear catastrophes. The last decade has seen a rise in the occurrence of historical records of natural disasters and sudden climatic changes. It is only recently that scientists are finding a direct link between these catastrophic events and the rising levels of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.

Correspondingly, the advancement of developing nations, following the same pattern as developed nations, but on a much larger scale, will give rise to Megapolis.

In addition to the issues resulting from human development, with the assumption that climate change will persist and even worsen, the near future will undoubtedly bring forth the crisis of climate refugees. The issue of human settlement will no longer be exclusive to conflict zones, but the disappearance of coastal areas and islands, and perhaps, entire cities.

Humanity continues to advance technologically and scientifically, and at the same time, it embraces the false perception of being a separate entity from nature, and therefore, its destruction widely acceptable. We are part of the ecosystem; and very much dependant on the cycle of nature and our empires should be complementary and not cataclysmic.

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