- Unless We Share
by· Published · Updated
Decades of ignoring the converging crises of climate change, ecosystem loss, nationalism, and inequity are reaching their logical conclusion as Europe and America are threatened with inundation by desperate peoples. Not all who wish to come will be able to be housed, and certainly not those arriving illegally, without pulling down host societies.
Yet we must hold onto our humanity and work for global justice and ecological sustainability. It is the rich nation’s responsibility to stop ravaging developing nations’ environments, and learn to share including providing massive development aid in place. Or the biosphere collapses and we all die after enduring a dark era of unbearable authoritarian fascism.
Mass destabilizing migration is what you get when religion tells you to have ever more children. You get mass unruly migration when a handful of individuals have seized half of Earth’s wealth as billions live in abject poverty on a couple dollars a day. The inevitable outcome of clearance of natural forests, fouling of water, and exponential growth in human population and total consumption is ecocidal mass migration. — Dr. Glen Barry
Illegal immigration is, well, illegal. And it is not sustainable. Though absolute immigration numbers rise and fall at any given moment, the trend is clear that a variety of crises are leading globally to an unprecedented level of dislocation from people’s traditional homes. The days of verdant sparsely populated paradises that the dispossessed could flee to after devastating their own lands are long gone. At nearly 8 billion human super predators and counting Earth is fully occupied and then some.
In fact, the global biosphere is collapsing and dying. What we are witnessing at affluent states’ borders illustrates long anticipated limits to growth, the irrefutable consequences of inequitable over-popuation, and the logical conclusion of being in a terminal state of ecological overshoot for decades. Large swathes of formerly productive land have been laid to waste by the combined forces of too many people, global warming, natural ecosystem destruction, and over-intensive land utilization. This ecological decline combined with centuries of neo-colonialist resource thievery has made large areas of the world ungovernable.
Continued mass movements of refugees and economic migrants from the periphery into the world’s prosperous regions reflect the convergence of a perfect storm. Abrupt climate change, ecosystem collapse, grotesque inequity, continued neo-colonialism, nationalistic perma-war, and first and foremost over-population are all reflected in the streams of refugees to Europe and America. There are nearly 70 million refugees who have been forcefully displaced from their homes worldwide and many more choosing voluntarily to migrate in search of economic opportunity.
The imperial powers cannot house all the citizens of failed states and ecosystems (even though much of the suffering is at their hands). Trying will overrun liberal democracy and lead to authoritarian responses. Yet we must not lose our humanity and turn our backs on suffering of others. Our best response to mass migration is to stop destroying developing nations’ environments as the foundation of our economic system, dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and sum consumption immediately, discontinue our state of perma-war to ensure easy access to resources, and provide sizeable development aid to support meeting basic human needs in place. This includes a well-funded program of massive ecosystem restoration that will employ large numbers. And educating all girls as well as boys, as provide free birth control, is long overdue to stabilize and then reduce human numbers.
Europe and America sharing their ill-gotten wealth with other nations to provide for security, environment, education, justice, and jobs; to make it worthwhile to stay in place, is the only immigration solution that will work. There is no other way to shared well-being.
Far more is at stake than providing for economic advancement and safety from persecution for those fleeing failed states and ecosystems, and legitimate (though often needlessly racist) desires to maintain existing cultural heritages and jobs. Continued exploitation of cheap migrant labor is not justification for abdicating the rule of law or allowing haphazard flows of human beings into an area where many do not welcome the influx. The future of humanity is threatened as we are poised for a final apocalyptic collapse into nothingness unless we learn to equitably share, sustain ecosystems, and make peace.
Mass migration overwhelming America and Europe is a symptom of all that ails Western pseudo-democratic capitalism. In a globalized world everyone shares problems. For centuries Western thought has subjugated and persecuted other cultures, as our ravenous appetite for resources laid to ruin natural ecosystems. Developing nations’ landscapes are strewn with the wreckage of the over-developed world’s resource gluttony. Ironically some of the most culturally advanced political institutions and works of human self-expression have arisen from this thievery. Despite the over-developed world never having quite lived up to the false exceptionalist rhetoric, there is much that is good and noble in tolerant societies based upon free self-expression that must be maintained to avoid another totalitarian dark age.
Near zero tolerance may well be required to make clear that rampant illegal migration is not acceptable. But not President Trump’s seizing of children from their parents, which is clearly fascism and crosses the line. Racism and demagoguery will not turn back the tide of demographics. And there is nothing progressive in sending the message that all the world’s downtrodden are welcome to overrun some of Earth’s last prosperous and relatively well governed regions.
There are few things as sad as serial child-abuser Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, proposing legislation to end enforcement of immigration law given his history of traveling to Costa Rica to sexually abuse kids (wonder if any victims became migrants, a lot easier to prey upon if they are here). Neither far-right authoritarian thuggery or far-left sanctimonious elitism will resolve immigration concerns, the answer lies in the political center.
While believing firmly in the ideal of the unity of the human race and global citizenry, no one’s interests are served by continued acceptance of the cycle of land degradation and poor governance leading to widespread movement into other areas to repeat yet again the ecocidal pattern dismantling the shared global environment. More people embracing the Western throw-away culture of over-consumption is not the answer. As signs of biosphere collapse emerge we are each called upon to make sustainable livelihoods in our own bioregions as there is truly nowhere to flee.
Rarely if ever have the pundits and politicians failed so miserably to diagnose a social issues’ roots as they have done with immigration. The very same people who want to build the wall not only deny the scientific truths of climate change and environmental decline, they are loathe to spend a relative pittance on helping neighboring nations develop sustainably so there is no need to flee. America and Europe have long pillaged other nations and the bill is due. The U.S. spends 1% of its budget or about $50 billion on foreign aid, much of that military assistance. While at the same time in 2017 America spent $610 billion on the military. It is arguable which has kept us safer.
Mass destabilizing migration is what you get when religion tells you to have ever more children. You get mass unruly migration when a handful of individuals have seized half of Earth’s wealth as billions live in abject poverty on a couple dollars a day. The inevitable outcome of clearance of natural forests, fouling of water, and exponential growth in human population and total consumption is ecocidal mass migration.
Desperate people seeking to survive have to go somewhere. In a world of abrupt climate change and collapsed ecosystems anyone of us could become a refugee at any moment. Yay but for the grace of Gaia there go you and I. If we leave no options for recovery and self-advancement, desperation will lead to mass floods of humanity at our door step, and a state of anarchy and war which cannot be won.
All children are going to die if we don’t change.
We can respond with inhumane fascist authoritarianism, or welcome the flood as we willfully descend into chaos. Or we can hold onto our humanity and way of life, and together get at the root causes of inequitable injustice, while securing our borders. We can expand our foreign aid by several billion, or spend orders of magnitudes more building walls, to avoid the Western civilization we cherish from being overwhelmed. Perhaps we should do both.
I have experienced first hand the cultural uncomfortableness associated with the unregulated influx of refugees. As my wife and I raised a family in Madison, Wisconsin, a large family of migrants occupied the house across the street from us in our quiet residential neighborhood. At least a couple dozen people lived in the small house, and half a dozen cars were put on blocks to fix in the street and driveway. On numerous occasions I asked the new arrivals to not do their auto repair on the streets, to no avail. One late night one of the cars being worked upon exploded and nearly burnt down our home with us asleep inside. No apologies were forthcoming. From this one coincidental incident, I understand the unease as large numbers of outsiders with different social norms flood our neighborhoods. This has nothing to do with race — I have been in a multi-cultural relationship for all my adult life — it is about illegal entry into the country followed by an unwillingness to accept and abide by cultural norms. And an understanding that not everyone that wants to come to America can be accommodated without diminishing and possibly destroying the greatest imperfect country in human history.
We must be under no illusions. Much of the concern about immigration is thinly veiled racism bereft of understanding regarding the ecological and socio-political underpinnings of mass human movement. Yet real concerns regarding the environmental, social, economic, and cultural impacts of illegal migration exist. And it is clearly impossible for the 2 billion people globally living in abject poverty to be housed within the developing world without entirely destroying political stability and economic well-being.
Unless we are willing to take broad-based measures to share, cut emissions, nurture ecosystems, and stop murdering each other for resources; Europe and America will be overrun by migrant hordes and fall into the bad sort of anarchy. Without centers of prosperity it is very unlikely we will achieve the technology, shared well-being, and political will to avoid abrupt climate change and biosphere collapse. We get at the root causes of why so many people are fleeing failed lands and governments and help remedy those factors, or all of Western civilization (such as it is) and our one shared environment are lost forever.