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Monthly Archives: May 2015


A New Perspective on Climate Change and Migration

The First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1 (IPCC AR1) in 1990 noted that the greatest single impact of climate change might be on human migration. The report estimated that by 2050, 150 million people could be displaced by climate change related phenomenon like desertification, increasing water scarcity, floods and storm etc.

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change in 2006 and a Christian Aid report in 2007 estimated displacement of respectively 200 million and 250 million people by climate change related phenomena.

These are terrifying numbers, especially when you realize that the reports tend to be fairly conservative about the effects of climate change. More recent IPCC reports have actually pulled back the more dramatic predictions about migration even as they intensify warnings about global warming.

A recent study, “Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Migration and Conflict” by Clionadh Raleigh, Lisa Jordan and Idean Salehyan, surveyed the available literature on disaster migration. They wanted to develop reasonable projections on future migration patterns in response to the direct and indirect changes due to climate change. They concluded that international migration is likely to be quite limited.

This is a result that contradicts what I thought I knew. It may or may not be correct. If it is, climate change could be less disruptive and fewer people will die trying to find new places to live. One key, according to Raleigh, Jordan and Salehyan, is that developed nations have to put in place adaptation and disaster response sytems that help the poorest and most vunerable populations deal with crises. I hope that they are right, and I hope we act on their advice.


Fiddling While The World Burns: Stephen Harper is No Emperor Nero

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. That is the story we all learned, and it isn’t true – the violin wasn’t invented yet. Nero was being scapegoated for the great fire of A.D. 64. There was nothing he could do about it. Our Prime Minister can act and refuses to. We can already say that Steven fiddled while the oceans acidified, the polar ice melted and California burned. He fiddled while BC’s shellfish industry collapsed. I’m sure you can add to the list.

Nero was innocent of the crimes he was accused of in this case. Nero actually took measures to provide relief for his citizens. He coordinated fire fighting efforts on the first night. He opened the public buildings and his own gardens as temporary shelter for homeless residents. He imported grain from nearby cities and supplied his citizens with food at a fraction of the normal cost. Mr Harper, however, is guilty of what I believe is a crime against humanity.

Harper’s Climate Change “Big Lie”

The Federal government has released its plan for fighting climate change. It is pretty simple:

1) claim credit for what the provinces do,

2) promise to start soon, after dismantling the actions of the previous government and doing nothing significant since,

3) promise to be 30 times as effective in the next 15 years as the government has been in the last 15 years.

On one hand this is a kind of black comedy. It is a joke, but one so sour that you want to cry. On the other hand it is an attempt to apply the “Big Lie” technique: a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. The only good news is that some commentators are already tearing it to shreds.