Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Europe's Next Crisis: Climate Refugees

Climate
Europe's Next Crisis: Climate Refugees

The former leader of one of the UK’s main political parties says the world will undergo more resource wars and huge movements of desperate people unless it tackles climate change effectively.

Lord Ashdown, who was leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats for 11 years, describes the present flight of refugees from Syria and other conflict areas as a “rehearsal” for the vast humanitarian disaster he believes will soon unfold.

An aerial view of Bangladesh shows the impact of flooding on arable land. Photo credit: Richard P J Lambert via Flickr

In a recent BBC interview on the Syrian refugee crisis, he said: “This is the beginnings of the future. It’s not going to go away.

“The numbers we now have of refugees fleeing battle zones are going to be diminished into almost nothing when we see the mass movement of populations caused by global warming.”

Politicians Blind

Lord Ashdown, a former marine and diplomat, known popularly as Paddy, told Climate News Network: “I raised the issue of climate refugees then because I’ve been trying for a very long time to get the international community to take some notice of them.

“I raised it to make the problem more obvious—though I do not know why politicians continue to be so blind to it.”

He said evidence of the impacts of climate change was plain to see: “You need only to fly over some of the areas that are being affected—like the Naga Hills on the border of India and Burma, or vast areas of the Ganges delta—to see clearly what’s happening.”

Tahmima Anam, a Bangladeshi writer and novelist, says that 50,000 people migrate every month to Dhaka, the capital city, because rising sea levels are making their villages uninhabitable and their arable land impossible to cultivate.

In both the UK and the U.S., military leaders are aware of the growing threat from climate change and expect to be ordered to react to its effects.

Lord Ashdown said: “If governments do not act, then wars over land and resources—which is what the second Iraq war was—will become more common.”

As long ago as 2003, a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Defense warned that global climate change is more likely to result in sudden, cataclysmic environmental events than a gradual and manageable rise in average temperatures.

Such events, the report said, could include a substantial increase in global sea levels, intense storms and hurricanes, and continent-wide “dustbowl” effects, which could lead to wars for access to food, water, habitable land and energy supplies.

“Violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today,” the report said.

Controversial Role

Lord Ashdown foresees a direct and controversial role for military forces in the near future − not simply in fighting these wars, but also in controlling refugee flows.

Asked whether he thought the UK’s armed forces would be ordered to defend the country’s borders, or to stop refugees leaving their countries of origin, or simply to play a humanitarian role, he replied: “All of those.”

He went on: “The idea of Open Europe is now under threat. We have to discuss how we can manage the future. Can you imagine what is going to happen?

“The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fueled disaster, which I think will begin to be felt within the next decade, perhaps within five or six years from now.”

Asked what his priorities would be for a government facing mass migration of this sort, Lord Ashdown replied: “Once the crisis is upon you, it’s too late to start working out your priorities.

“This is about forethought, the need to look ahead. And you can’t approach it on a purely British basis. It has to be an international effort consistent with our principles.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and More Call for Action on Climate Change in ‘Love Song to the Earth’

The Yin and Yang of Cancer and Climate Change

Naomi Klein: ‘Toxic Ideology of Market Fundamentalism’ Is to Blame for the ‘Degradation of the Planetary System’

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Kyle and Tropical Storm Josephine as of 9:10 a.m. EDT Saturday, August 15, 2020. RAMMB / CIRA / Colorado State University

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.

The record-busy 2020 Atlantic hurricane season brought another addition to its bevy of early-season storms at 5 p.m. EDT August 14, when Tropical Storm Kyle formed off the coast of Maryland.

Read More Show Less
The Ocean Cleanup

By Ute Eberle

In May 2017, shells started washing up along the Ligurian coast in Italy. They were small and purple and belonged to a snail called Janthina pallida that is rarely seen on land. But the snails kept coming — so many that entire stretches of the beach turned pastel.

Read More Show Less
Feeding an orphaned bear. Tom MacKenzie / USFWS

By Hope Dickens

Molly Craig's day begins with feeding hungry baby birds at 6 a.m. The birds need to be fed every 15 minutes until 7 at night. If she's not feeding them, other staff at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn, Illinois take turns helping the hungry orphans.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Douglas Broom

"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people," said former U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.

Read More Show Less
A bald eagle flies over Lake Michigan. KURJANPHOTO / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.

Read More Show Less
The peloton ride passes through fire-ravaged Fox Creek Road in Adelaide Hills, South Australia, during the Tour Down Under cycling event on January 23, 2020. Brenton Edwards / AFP / Getty Images

A professional cycling race in Australia is under attack for its connections to a major oil and gas producer, the Guardian reports.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UQ study lead Francisca Ribeiro inspects oysters. The study of five different seafoods revealed plastic in every sample. University of Queensland

A new study of five different kinds of seafood revealed traces of plastic in every sample tested.

Read More Show Less