Immigration and Climate Change

For the New York Times op-ed section, I wrote about the inevitable waves of immigration that will result from climate change:

By casting immigrants as either heroes or villains, these politicians reveal that they view immigration as a law-enforcement issue. The reality is much more complicated. Like other species on this planet, human beings are a migratory type. When they suddenly find themselves in desperate need of physical safety or economic opportunity, they leave home and start over somewhere new. It has always been this way. The earliest stories we tell ourselves are stories of displacement: Adam’s fall from Eden, Moses’ flight from Egypt, Muhammad’s hegira to Medina. Trying to stop this process through the building of walls strikes me as both ineffective and unnatural — like trying to stop a river from flowing.

I use the simile deliberately. Scientists predict that over the next decade the earth will warm by 1.5 degrees, and perhaps as much as two degrees Celsius if we fail to take drastic and sustained action on climate change. Even under the best-case scenarios, we will witness huge hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and other severe weather events. The consequences will be dire: loss of homes and livelihoods, hunger and disease, probably conflict, but eventually dislocation. As much as it is an economic, a social and a foreign-policy issue, migration is a climate issue.

You can read the whole piece here.

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