Crisis, what crisis?

September 6th, 2015

800px-People_queuing_to_access_the_transit_camp_in_Dolo_Ado_(5978139440)Blaming all the world’s ills on climate change is a very counterproductive thing to do.  While it might be that there is a connection between the current displacement of oppressed peoples from various parts of the world towards the more affluent and stable regions, it is surely much more complex than this simple cause and effect that some journalists have opined. In the past commentators have associated localised weather phenomenon with climate change, such as increased scale of tropical storms or occurrence of unusually dry summers or cold winters. Step back a moment and consider what is happening here. There might be, an as yet unproven, link between some or all of these things that we are experiencing and in order to try to make sense people are jumping to a seemingly plausible conclusion.

Many have now realised that labels can be dangerous when used simplistically. Like cancer, climate change is not one thing. Climate change is an assemblage of many elements, which are dynamic and interrelated, and crucially that we don’t – and might never – fully comprehend. The geopolitical consequences and impacts can at this stage be no more than educated guesswork. Only time will show us how well understood these complex physical, chemical, biological, ecological and socialogical elements are and how they might affect us and each other.

I like many consider climate change to be the greatest threat to humanity. And having spent the last few days in the French Alps walking the high cols and passing close by the disappearing glaciers that were once dominant landforming agents, I have seen with my own eyes that things aren’t as they should be. We must prepare for a period of constant change and calling anything unusual a crisis doesn’t get us much further than creating a headline or a piece of political diatribe.
But more importantly we mustn’t be tempted to blame climate change for everything because it will further entrench the opposing positions of the deniers. If they can’t be convinced with the data and evidence we know to exist and to be linked with climate change, then more half baked assertions will not have a positive effect. In fact it is likely to entrench their position that it is a nonsense and should be ignored in favour ever more rampant economic growth, from which they, in the short-term, benefit.

The sad situation is that people have always sought escape from persecution and aspired to better themselves. This is human nature. The difference now is perhaps two fold. First, the people are moving into regions already heavily populated as opposed to the wildness of the North American continent or vast emptiness of Australia. Second is that the people in the receiving areas rather than being “benighted savages”, are us, who would rather be left alone to glory in our own wealth. Perhaps we are also mindful of the destruction that we, as immigrants, wrought on the indigenous peoples – and might be fearing the worst.

We must learn to welcome change whether it be from people seeking our shelter and support or from the changes to the natural and physical world from which we have become so divorced over the past fifty years. It’s a big and everchanging world out there, go out explore, embrace and enjoy it while you can.




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