If You Think Immigration is an Issue Now, Just Wait….

The Donald’s anti-immigration rhetoric and ridiculous “policy” prescriptions–discussed here yesterday–have highlighted the resentment and nativism with which far too many of us respond to newcomers to our shores. It’s embarrassing, but hardly unique to America. Just look at the recent international headlines, detailing Europe’s response to the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing violence and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

In the wake of those mounting conflicts in Europe, the Brookings Institution considered not just the dislocations and social issues involved, but the reasons for human movement across political borders. (Hint: those reasons aren’t likely to abate.)

One “take away” from the lengthy and somewhat abstruse paper:

Consider the potential effects of the recent IPPCC projections of a 4 degree Celsius rise in temperature expected by the end of the 21st century in the absence of aggressive mitigation. Then agricultural lands would be displaced by 1,000 km from the equator and sea level would rise another 70 centimeters by the end of the century, or about 3.5 times the rise in sea level over the past 150 years. This would put in jeopardy the 44 percent of world population currently living within 150 km from the coastline. Abstracting from other likely disastrous side effects (acidification of oceans, loss of biodiversity, possibility of life collapse), can we adapt to such changes? Since 72 percent of the population and 90 percent of world GDP is located on 10 percent of the Earth’s land, there is ample room for people to move if they are allowed to.

Translation: climate change is going to motivate massive movements of people across the globe. We can accommodate that movement physically, but unless something changes current highly protective attitudes about national sovereignty–unless we rethink the reflexive tribalism that currently motivates policies about immigration– political accommodation and assimilation will be much more difficult.


  1. What’s interesting to me is this: anthropogenic global warming is as certain as gravity. There is not the slightest scientific doubt about it. It’s high school physics. Yet half of us doubt it.

    Now if reality was half of us didn’t understand it that would be one thing. Only a tiny fraction of us are what might be called scientifically literate. But the evidence shows that people who obviously don’t understand it, doubt it.

    There is only one possible explanation for that. Conspiracy. A methodical program of misinformation to purposely mislead us. Those who have resisted the conspiracy are those who believe and accept science because of the rigor of the scientific method regardless of our understanding of any specifics.

    Who would fund and engage in such an effective conspiracy? If one follows the money certainly those who benefit financially, the fossil fuels industry.

    But, I believe, also the GOP as part of their conspiracy to attack the President and therefore America’s credibility to make it seem as if they and Bush were no less competent than the rest of us. Ridiculous on the face of it. Demonstrably false yet necessary for their survival.

    Conspiracy is a word used too lightly much of the time but here and now there is no better description of the greatest threat to America ever executed.

    And it’s by us, against us. Democracies suicide watch. Rediculous.

  2. Climate may have something to do with mass migrations and refugee issues.

    However, the biggest factor is AmeriKa and their puppets that eagerly engaged with GWB in his War of aggression in Iraq, the attempt to topple the Syrian Government and the over throw of Qaddafi in Libya. One result is ISIS and violence on an industrial scale. We all see on TV the various groups in the Middle East using modern weapons, AK-47’s, RPG’s, M-16’s , jet fighters, etc. Fact is with the possible exception of Israel no country in the Middle East or North Africa could produce these weapons. So where do they get these modern weapons of War – The West, Russia and China.

    By the way the President Obama will be in the Alaska to demonstrate climate change, but gave the go ahead for Shell Oil to start drilling in the Arctic. Then here is this gem – Wed July 29, 2015, Nashua, New Hampshire (CNN)Hillary Clinton on Tuesday declined to say whether she supported the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, telling a New Hampshire voter that if the matter is still undecided by the time she becomes president, she will give him an answer then. I guess Hillary thinks the voters are children and we do not deserve an answer, during the election cycle.

  3. @Pete, what high school physics accounts for the global freezes of yore aside from the events when the Sun’s radiation was theoretically dimmed by other cataclysms?
    Did the events at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the explosion of Mt. St Helens or the fall of the Twin Towers cause global cooling by belching sun-screening particulate matter? Is it sci-fi to propose that science can help us to control global warming by figuring a way for controlled release of non-toxic particles for measured deflection of solar radiation?
    It boggles my mind to think of the global political backlash that would arise from such proposals.
    But it might make a good movie.

  4. Pete’s got it. Another way to consider climate change is in the context of population growth. There have NEVER been so many humans on the planet, or cars, or power plants. They all generate GHG.

  5. Pete, I may be wrong but I don’t believe Israel is capable of manufacturing most of the weapons we see today. Where are their iron ore and aluminum sources? How do they obtain rare earth materials? I don’t believe there is even an Israeli made car of note.

    What interest does China and Russia have in arming these countries? That much is very clear: It prevents the West from imperializing their resources, a thing the West has done since the early 19th century. It is more to the national interest of China and Russia and the remainder of the civilized world to rein Israel and The USA in. They know how we roll. Africans haven’t forgotten the imperialists. Arabs haven’t forgotten Lawrence. China hasn’t forgotten the Boxers. It is Americans who know not that they know not.

    At the same time, we know that saturating an area with armament will destabilize it to the point that we can put out hands in their pockets while they are boxing with one another. So it works both ways. For a time.

    Oh, yes: And the perpetrators; they actually believe they can raise all kinds of hell here on earth and still enjoy the good life beyond the pearly gates. How can you debate with that?

  6. We can debate the causes of climate change until hell freezes over. Right now neither side wants to concedes anything. That gets us nowhere. What we need to get into is the immigration policies of our country and other countries. What are those policies delivering to the world today as opposed to what we would like to see in the future? How do we keep our humanity as millions of people rush the borders of neighboring countries? How do we keep a world economy going when a growing percentage of the population lives as refugees?

  7. daleb

    True that but do you think ALEC and the GOP will hesitate to drone the nearest woman’s health care center? The more there are the more can make war on one another while we reap the profits. So far, it works.

  8. Omg – your point is? Do nothing? Your are unbelievable. THERESA – what debate? There is none. There is only acceptance of the science or denial.

  9. Wayne; “…acceptance OR denial..” IS a debate. It is opposing sides of any issue. Climate change IS, always has been and always will be a reality – for creationists and evolutionists – that is where the acceptance or denial comes into play. It matters not when or where it originated or what is in the future for all of us; acceptance or denial will never change the fact that it IS. Doing something about it is where Global Warming acceptance or denial can make a change; however slight, any amount of improvement is better than no improvement at all. Trying to improve conditions is not being liberal, it is back to the basic interpretation of the word “conservative” – we need to conserve what we have left of our world by ceasing to destroy it.

  10. Wayne, you want this discussion today to be about climate change. I want it to be about immigration policies and the mass of refugees the world has. How should the United States respond to this? Let more people in? Put up more barriers? Throw the ones her out?

  11. OMG:

    Virtually all of the energy to heat the earth is created by the sun and arrives here through the perfect insulation of space as electromagnetic radiation. Some is reflected (clouds, snow, ice and sand are very reflective), some is absorbed by the atmosphere, and the rest is transmitted through the atmosphere and absorbed by land, water (most) and life. Everything absorbed by matter no matter what kind increases its temperature. Warm matter always radiates energy so exists at a temperature that creates exactly as much radiation as it absorbs.

    Greenhouse gases are atmospherics with the property of absorbing radiation from the cooler source of earth but not from the hot source of the sun. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane as well as others. They absorb outgoing earth radiation in proportion to their concentration, and as their temperature thereby rises, they radiate out in all directions. About half returns to earth. The only possible stable result of that is earth in turn warms until it get get the same amount of energy out as is coming in from the sun.

    Fossil fuels produce between 1 and 3 lbs of carbon dioxide per lb burned. It all goes into our atmosphere and increases greenhouse gas concentrations. It all has the inescapable consequence of requiring the earth to warm as concentrations rise.

    Ice ages are generally started by volcanic activity causing more solar radiation to be reflected by ash and therefor less to be absorbed thus lowering temperature. That causes more ice which increases reflection even more and lowers temperature even more creating more ice. Fortunately over very long times that reduces plant life releasing the carbon dioxide contained in it causing global warming to restore warmer temperatures.

  12. The choices are to create sufficient energy directly from incident solar or its effects like wind and hydropower, create it from nuclear fission, or continue to create it from fossil fuels and pay the consequences of relocating our civilization as determined by extreme weather, relocated precipitation for agriculture, drinking, and cleaning, and away from rising seas.

    Only the first two options are affordable.

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