Get ready for “climate refugees!”

I told you about this incredible campaign back in December, but there is more today.  Participants in the global warming crusade (notice now that the climate is cooling, “climate change” is the operative phrase) are pushing for a redefinition of ‘refugees’ to accomodate their apocalyptic view that in a few short years we will have millions of people escaping “climate change” who need to be resettled in your community.

I don’t have the time or patience to analyze this lengthy article published at something called the International Relations and Security Network, so read the whole thing.    

The problem of defining ‘climate refugee.’

Albeit popular in the press, the term “climate refugee” enjoys no legal authority. The 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is the core treaty of international refugee law. Article 1 defines a refugee as any person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” The definition does not afford binding legal protection to environmentally displaced persons, and focuses instead on political refugees and refugees of violent conflict.

A 1967 Protocol later amended the 1951 Convention and removed geographic and time constraints, rendering the convention a more universal document. Climate refugees, however, remained outside the legal framework. The UN world recognizes this dissimilarity and employs a verbose working definition instead – “environmentally induced migrant.”

The result puts humanitarians and environmentalists compassionately at odds. Humanitarians argue their limited resources are already overstretched. Environmentalists note that climate change and consequently environmental displacement are byproducts of human-led industrialization. Sheltering those victimized by climate change is a moral and security imperative.

We will need new funding and resettlement schemes (no doubt!).

Eventually, to avoid the most adverse of scenarios, resettlement and funding schemes will be needed. Civil society is leading the charge. Due to their proximity to the Pacific islands, the governments of Australia and New Zealand have become early targets of pressure.

The right to resettlement, however, begs a fundamental question: How does the international community distinguish between victims of climate change and casualties of unsustainable development? Professor Biermann explains that although this distinction may be useful in the developed world, elsewhere it is unfitting. “It is difficult to say for developing countries […] you can’t tell the Egyptians its your problem that you settled in the Nile [Delta], because this what they have been doing for the last 5,000 years.

“[That] is why we make the distinction between climate refugees and other refugees – because of the moral link between causation and consequence. Rich industrialized countries, they have been responsible for the largest part of this problem.”

Refugees are not a blessing.  Really?   I thought diversity strengthened communities.

Any resettlement, nevertheless, will likely be onerous. Displaced populations may be forced to take up residence in foreign countries, straining cultural traditions and in certain cases the very existence of their national identities. Refugees, never mind their genesis, are rarely regarded as a blessing. They necessitate costly assistance and their presence – albeit through no fault of their own – frequently engenders political strife with local communities, all the more reason for drafting resettlement schemes early on.

As I said, get ready.

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