Will We All Become 'Envirogees'?

<p>Climate change, desertification and resource wars are displacing millions of people, and threaten to turn us all into environmental refugees, warns Scott Thill.</p>
June 3, 2008, 6am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"From earthquakes in China to cyclones in Myanmar to water rationing in Los Angeles, societies are shifting like their borders. And all the outcry over so-called illegal immigration neglects to answer one time-honored question: If the borders aren't standing still, why should the people who live in their outlines do so? Especially when they're under attack from catastrophic floods, fires, droughts and any number of other environmental dangers?

Here are some startling envirogee numbers to crunch: According to the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Earth's fracturing communities will have 150 million envirogees by 2050. According to Australian climatologist Dr. Graeme Pearman, coastal flooding resulting from a mere two-degree rise in temperature would kick 100 million people out of their danger-zone homes by 2100.

Here's more scary data. Desertification is claiming land from China to Morocco to Tunisia and beyond at an increasing rate. New Orleans and parts of Alaska are slowly sliding into the sea, while the former, as Hurricane Katrina ably illustrated, is becoming a reliable target for intensifying weather events, human corruption and half-assed infrastructure. Aquifers around the world are shrinking, while acidification is claiming cropland in Egypt and beyond. Hypoxia has claimed portions of the ocean itself with alarming speed, as stretches of the Atlantic and Pacific lose oxygen and, by extension, the marine life that not only feeds millions but establishes the continuity of the food chain.

Parched by thirst and hungry for fossil fuels which, in turn, only exacerbate that thirst and the wars it engenders, envirogees are streaming out of these hot zones into less murderous ones, whose inhabitants are circling their wagons on the outsiders. Civil wars are breaking out. Outsiders, in turn, are becoming invaders. The irony is rich."

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Published on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 in AlterNet
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