By Ken Johnson
I want to point out something that might not be obvious: Climate change is going to screw up the world — irreparably.
There are three, not four, horsemen of the apocalypse: climate change, immigration, and nationalism.
These harbingers of the end times are compounding each other, building off each other, and creating a positive-feedback loop.
The loop is simple: climate change causes immigration, immigration causes nationalist politicians, and nationalist politicians cause climate change.
Let’s break it down:
Climate change causes immigration
The Guardian newspaper predicts that by 2100, one million immigrants could be entering the European Union every year as a result of climate change.
About 40 percent of people live near the coast. They will be forced out of their homes as sea levels rise. In some cases, this will cause migration within a nation, but in other cases, it will cause people to move between nations.
That’s only part of the equation. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, are becoming more severe. Hurricanes destroy entire cities and entire systems of infrastructure, making large coastal areas uninhabitable. Think about Puerto Rico.
The problem isn’t hurricanes; it’s that many governments are unequipped to deal with hurricanes.
Again, think about the federal government’s incompetent response to Hurricane Maria.
Immigration causes nationalist politicians
I want to make something clear: immigrants do not cause nationalism— the fear of immigrants causes nationalism. The immigrants are doing nothing wrong.
Italy is a good example. With its heel stuck out in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is the landing place for many immigrants from northern Africa.
Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, is considered to be the most important politician in Italy. He rose to power on the back of popular anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Ahead of the March election,” Time magazine reports, “Salvini put [immigration] at the center of his campaign. He made the wildly impracticable promise to deport 500,000 undocumented immigrants from Italy.”
The issue is that— whether it’s Salvini or Andrew Jackson— nationalist leaders use immigration as a scare tactic to get elected.
So as immigration starts to climb, nationalists will gobble up more and more power.
I also want to point out that nationalist politicians, just by being awful, cause immigration on their own.
Our planet is tilting sharply to the right.
Nationalist politicians cause global warming
At this point, it makes sense to use the United States as an example. President Donald Trump is a famous climate change denier. He called climate change a “Chinese hoax” and took the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.
According to a recent Washington Post article, Trump’s main argument against climate change regulation is that regulation hurts the economy, so it doesn’t make sense while the “science on climate change is unsettled.”
The science is settled and corroborated by a recent EPA report, which Trump seems to be ignoring.
“A recent U.S. government report,” according to Forbes. “Suggests that global temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius [by 2100]. … such large temperature rises would cause extreme heat waves, more floods and droughts … and leave many cities around the world underwater thanks to rising sea levels.”
When nationalist leaders say that climate change regulation will hurt the economy, they mean climate change regulation will hurt the short-term, economic interests of the ruling class.
Most of the time, doomsday columns like this end with a “call to action.” In the community college newspaper business, a call to action is a hopeful message that lets the readers know how they can help.
I’m not going to do that.
And, without sounding melodramatic, I want to say that you can’t help. These problems are too entrenched in our global politics to change before it’s too late.
It is possible to reverse climate change. Reliance on nuclear energy, reforestation, a primarily vegetarian diet, and clean manufacturing might help. Action would have to be immediate and global.
The ruling class, our politicians, executive boards, and CEOs, are not incentivized to help, so they won’t— like always.
The die has been cast.