Carl Sacklen

Preventing the Next Migrant Crisis

The majority of people agree with the consensus that climate change is real, let alone a threat. Unfortunately, many don’t share that view. This stance endangers millions of lives and will have severe ramifications in the future.

The evidence for climate change is overwhelming, however this isn’t an opportunity for me to list them all. In fact, such an attempt would be futile. Why would those who see it as nothing more than a hoax suddenly change their minds if they were to read the same facts again? No, this is a warning to those people about what is coming.

President Trump rejects climate change. He called it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese in order to make American goods less competitive. How clever of them to have planned ahead all the way from the industrial revolution, over 200 years ago, in order to make their plastic toys cheaper than America’s…

Mr Trump has also given himself a generally anti-refugee stance. Unfortunately for him, he can’t have both. One view will have to give way for the other. Here’s why.

Climate change will play a big role in fuelling the next migrant wave. Although it will be difficult to distinguish who is moving for other reasons, the ominous creep of erosion and explosive disasters such as cyclones and floods will play a definitive role in displacing people from their homes - more than any war could do. Moreover, reduced rainfall, salinity and desertification will have a profound impact on food and water prices as well as on the people trying to produce and buy those supplies.

Nine out of ten low-lying countries under threat from rising sea levels as a direct cause of climate change are in Asia. To make things worse, the continent’s population is projected to make up 70% of the world population by 2020. If these countries succumb to the forces of nature, millions will be displaced and many will undoubtedly flock to the West.

That’s why President Trump and those like him need to make their minds up. If they’re anti-refugee, they have an obligation to prevent people from becoming refugees in the first place. This can be done by supporting agreements between nations to tackle the effects of climate change and prevent them from worsening. If this doesn’t take their fancy, they have an equally great obligation to take in a share of refugees who they have ultimately helped to displace through a rejection of global warming mitigation policies.

The 2015 Paris climate change agreement was a big step forward in preventing this migrant wave. The big polluters such as the US and China were both signatories to the agreement. Unfortunately, a lot has changed since then and President Trump sees it as nothing more than a pesky hurdle designed to trip him up on his mission to “make America great again”. He said on the campaign trail that he wanted to “cancel” the accord. Withdrawing from the agreement could take up to four years, however within that timeframe, Trump will most likely have already revived coal, oil and natural gas production and resumed the churning out of harmful gases.

Not only will this in itself have a negative impact on the battle to prevent climate change, but it will set a precedent for the less enthusiastic countries in the deal. After all, if the US isn’t doing it, why on earth would they? Worse still, since the Paris agreement on climate change doesn’t levy sanctions or fines, such a domino effect is entirely possible.

If President Trump does abandon America’s pledges on climate change, he should do so with the knowledge that it will cause an influx of refugees and that the US will have a moral responsibility to take many of them. He should also be aware that such a decision would be incredibly reckless, shortsighted, and not in America’s national interest.