A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe


Can you imagine what it would take for you to take your family on a vessel like this to cross an angry sea to a foreign country, just to stay alive? This boat is bound for a Greek island from North Africa.

One of the most desperate and destructive diasporas in history is rolling out of the parched regions of Africa and the Middle East, over Europe, toward extinction. They are being called refugees from war, but the wars they are fleeing have their origins in the desperation of people who have no food, and they have no food because of the savage droughts being inflicted on their countries by global climate change. Hence, it is perfectly legitimate, and more importantly it is honest, to call them climate refugees.

(Among all 423 current candidates for US President, only Martin O’Malley demonstrated a grasp of this reality when he said that climate change is responsible for the rise of ISIS. He was almost universally ridiculed for saying it, and this tiny, lonely spark of sense fell on wet ground and was instantly extinguished.)

In just the latest ramification of the new Dark Age advancing on Europe, 1,000 Afghan and Syrian refugees who had made their way to the Greek Island of Kos were rounded up by riot police yesterday (after having been herded with fire extinguishers) and imprisoned in an open stadium until they could be “registered.” At last report there were three — count them, three — officers taking names. It is not that the authorities are heartless, they are overwhelmed. Those 1,000 refugees are not all the refugees on Kos, that is how many refugees arrive every day. “The situation on the island is out of control,” said the mayor of Kos, “blood will be shed.”

“Greece faces a crisis within a crisis,” said prime minister Alexis Tsipras. “The migrant flows exceed the capacity of our state infrastructure.” About 120,000 refugees have stumbled ashore on the Greek Islands so far this year, four times the influx during all of 2014. The other principal landing for refugees traveling to Europe by boat, Italy, estimates that 100,000 have come aground there this year.

Imagine that you have lost your job, been served with an eviction notice, lost your car to the repo man and 20 of your closest relatives arrive on your doorstep in search of food and shelter. That’s that’s going on here. Neither these countries, nor the United Nations, nor the NGOs operating in the area, can possibly handle this rip tide of human misery.  Nor is it limited to Greece and Italy. Let’s take a brief tour:

Hungary is rushing to complete a 110-mile-long fence along its border with Serbia to stem the flow of mostly Syrian refugees — 2,000 in 2012, now 1,500 people per day —  seeking asylum in a European Union country so they can travel freely among the other EU members.

Germany is the Mecca for most of these refugees, who are fully aware of the desperate economic straits of countries such as Greece and Italy. Germany is expecting 450,000 refugees this year, double the amount of last year, and the resulting tensions are rising. So far this year there have been 150 attacks on refugee shelters, most of them attempts to burn the shelters down. When the flood of refugees overwhelmed existing camps, the government called in the army to help, a move that inflamed those who insist that any use of the army inside the country is unconstitutional.

Across Italy, increasingly violent protests are breaking out over the strains produced by the relentless onslaught of the destitute. The mayor of Rome said this week the city does not have the resources to take in any more refugees. The wealthier northern districts of Italy, called on to help by taking some of the influx, refused. Meanwhile, the Italian coast guard last weekend rescued at sea and brought ashore another 1,800 people (so far this year an estimated 2,000 refugees have died at sea).   

The first tendrils of this massive onslaught of humanity have reached England, and have convulsed the country’s politics. The prime minister speaks of a “swarm” and the foreign secretary says “millions of marauding Africans” threaten the standard of living, and must be returned to their home countries, and their own standards of living. The reality underlying this panic is that a few thousand refugees, having reached Calais on the west coast of France, have tried to walk or hitch rides through the English Channel Tunnel to England. So far, one has made it, only to be arrested at the exit. Now thanks to a mile long fence at the Calais entrance to the Chunnel, and some nasty camps of hovels for the refugees who make it that far, fewer are able to make the attempt. But the extra security has choked travel through the Chunnel, negatively impacting commerce and tourism.

Still, the bleak tide rises. Still Europe sinks beneath it as the desert sands spread from Africa to Arabia to Asia. Still, no one offers a solution, for the terrifying reason that no one has yet identified the problem.  


Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Tsunami of Climate Refugees is Drowning Europe

  1. Kathleen Nelson says:

    How can anyone…in God’s name…read this and NOT be sickened- horrified- frightened? Simply reading the caption of the picture–when a family has no choice whatsoever…watch your children and loved ones die the slow–torturous death of starvation–OR watch them being butchered by groups such as ISIS or Syrian death squads–OR risk the trip across a sea in an overloaded raft/boat? Hmmm.. WWJD or what would any of us do when faced with these situations?
    Any takers? Any solutions?

  2. David Waddle says:

    This is all part of The Great Dying that is currently taking place. You wrote about it in one of your books. I think it is beginning. Too many people and not enough planet to support them. It doesn’t help that 5% of the people gobble up 1/3 of the resources. I don’t blame it all on that though. We are part of the natural world whether we choose to believe that or not. The natural world doesn’t care who lives and who dies. Death comes for us all eventually. Nobody wins.

  3. SomeoneInAsia says:

    It was the Western world in the first place — perhaps more specifically, the English-speaking part of it — that started the whole Industrial Revolution thing (and converted the rest of the world to the gospel of material ‘progress’), which led to the insane consumption of nonrenewable energy resources worldwide (and the manipulation of the Middle East’s geopolitical landscape for the purpose of accessing the said resources), which led to the twin scourges of climate change and resource depletion, which have led to the current tragedy of countless refugees now swamping Europe. Talk about karma.

    Hey, I’ve heard that the people of the West actually think tragedies are cool. After all, the ‘oh-so-great’ tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides are supposed to be among the most exalted creations of the human spirit. Perhaps this is why the West loves creating real-life tragedies, the grander in scale the better. First two world wars and the mass homicides of nazism and communism, then nuclear weapons, now the refugee crisis, and soon to come what a certain James Howard Kunstler called the Long Emergency, in which — boy, am I looking forward to it — I’m going to be a participant, too.

    Look out for the greatest blockbuster tragedy of them all — OLDUVAI. Featuring breathtaking spectacles such as the deaths of billions of human beings. You don’t want to miss it (and you won’t be able to anyway). Coming soon to a theater near you.

    I incidentally recall something I read on Youtube regarding the Greeks: they gave the world modern civilization; now they’re taking it all back.

  4. Tom says:

    It seems we’re genetically programmed (like all other species) to push reproduction to the limits of whatever the local (now world) environment can handle. Here’s the result – the Petri dish (planet) only has finite resources and once they’re gone, it’s starvation and death. Ours, due to the complexity of our networks will unravel in multiple places: economic, environmental and social. It won’t be pretty or fun, but that’s what we’re facing. Do the best you can, until you can’t.

    • Nick Swenson says:

      We aren’t genetically programmed to so, our genetics don’t specific that kind of programming. We could live within our limits if we banded together and started taking complete stock of the world. But, with today’s fear of each other, I don’t have much faith in in happening.

      • Tom says:

        Actually it’s deeper than genetic – it’s in compliance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Believe what you wish – it doesn’t matter anyway. All the stories we’ve been telling ourselves end with us as we go extinct in the near future.

  5. bob watkins says:

    Encourage a look at “Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century” (2013 Yale Press), by Geoffrey Parker. Most interesting is his analysis of why some states were able to cope with the pressures of climate change, while other failed. It’s a shame we don’t learn from history, because it has all happened before. Parker’s account is very long and detailed, but very readable.

  6. witsendnj says:

    The people on the boat are desperate. Why did the entire world originally become colonized by people crossing oceans? They must have been desperate to do so, because even hunter gatherers exceeded the carrying capacity of their homelands and were forced to become refugees seeking new territory. The modern west doesn’t have a monopoly on overconsumption; it is the human way. Also, some of the droughts are from climate change, but much can be laid at the feet of deforestation. The mideast was once a land of beautiful forests. And China, apparently, has experienced cyclical droughts leading to famine, long before fossil fuels were burned in quantity: http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/ancient-chinese-graffiti-warns-of-droughts-ahead/

    The same can cycle of deforestation, drought and famine holds for Central and South America too. There is a pattern here. But, as Tom points out, it’s a global collapse now, no more pristine places to colonize.

  7. And soon coming to a theatre near you. The U.S. Southwest is not far behind. The studies have been done and are regularily updated. Expectation is some 30 million people will migrate out of the U.S. south, including parts of Mexico, and make their way to the Northwest and Canada.

    Is Canada going to build a fence?

    The ” tide” is the appropriate metaphor. If you have ever stood in a shallow bay with the tide out and sand stretching out to the waterline for a mile it seems inconceivable one should ever worry about drowning – or sharks for that matter. If not paying attention soon the water is nibbling at your toes, then caressing your ankles, lapping at your knees, splashing against your chest, then you are trying to stay up on your toes to keep breathing…

    Ironically, this type of beach is quite close to the U.S./BC border. We used to do this as kids on occassion. And every time we are astonished how it just creeps up on us.

    Seems we are just not programmed to react to slow, relentless changes. If it don’t run, produce succulent fruit and taste good it doesn’t matter? Is this the prime directive of our genes?

  8. Ann Jones says:

    Christian Parenti wrote about this in his excellent book Tropic of Chaos in 2011.

  9. Lew says:

    The obscure old book “Camp of Saints” is getting a bit of play on the net right now. A novel, but predictive of the present situation. I’ve got an old copy kicking around, somewhere. Time to unearth it and re-read.

    Watched the DVD, “Last Days in Viet Nam”, last night. The evacuation of Saigon in 1975. It also resonates with the current situation.

  10. Craig Moodie says:

    I was not going to comment out of principle, but could not restrain myself. To call these people ‘climate refugees’ is utterly ludicrous. In case you had’nt noticed these people live in dry,arid regions with a limited carrying capacity. The fact that they were able to exceed this capacity was only due to food importation via various welfare programmes.
    Globalisation and the carbon footprint it carries is what enabled these people to over-populate. With the economic downturn and resource depletion etc, the chickens are now coming home to roost.
    You are being disingenuous blaming it on climate change.

  11. Peter D says:

    More like a tsunami of regime change refugees…

  12. jasonheppenstall says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I have just returned from Italy where national news was showing images of dead bodies washed up on beaches – with sunbathing tourists sitting around them unbothered by the sight. Furthermore, a friend recently got married in Sicily. At the wedding reception the party was constantly interrupted by helicopters flying overhead and picking up refugees floating in the sea.

    A slight corrective. Hundreds, possibly thousands of migrants have made it through the Channel Tunnel so far. This situation has been building for years. Most of them climb onto or underneath trucks and hang on for dear life. Some manage to convince or bribe drivers to take them (on the understanding that the driver says he didn’t know they were there). It is just, of late, the situation has come to the attention of the media and politicians.

  13. Mike Kay says:

    The problem with most current narratives is that they simplify their subject to the point of meaninglessness. Thus we are regularly expected to oversimplify our thinking.
    Whether one considers historic, or current events, social, political, or economic issues, the same drive for simplicity is now a fixed cognitive approach.
    I detect this approach most strongly whenever and wherever the issue of the climate arises.
    No one doubts that the tide of refugees is overwhelming Europe. However, because a certain group of people cannot be criticised, no one is allowed to examine the destabilization of the region their actions bring. Because one particular country is ever ready to indulge in war and other mayhem for this group, this dynamic duo has been merrily practicing international devastation for decades.
    Now, anyone who is constrained by today’s simplification, and loss of critical faculties cannot help but overlook this seemingly significant reality, but for those not yet fully ordained by the ministers of political correctness, I submit that having your country reduced to a smoking ruin just might contribute to a refugee crisis.