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Climate Change Refugees Essay

The rise in global temperatures, as a result, is creating climate change. This is leading not only to changes in the environment but also leading towards socio-political effects as a result of the changes in the environment. To analyze those changes, we selected four scholarly research articles that discussed multiple aspects surrounding the issue. The subject under discussion was how climate changes are leading to the displacement of people from one region to another or within a state, and how violence and conflict could come as a result. Conflict and violence are directly related to a state’s security, therefore a majority of the research focused on the causal relationship, historical as well as contemporary, between changes in climate and global or regional security.

Multiple theories on the subject emerged from the discussion and studies. One of the themes was the artificial nature of the refugee crisis in many parts of the world. The discussion centered on how critical race theories must be reanalyzed to study mass migrations, conflict, and security variables that are affected by climate disasters, ecological changes, and state policies. One of the themes that emerged from the discussion was how a human-induced environmental change, such as capitalist extraction leads to an unjust and unequal distribution of resources in less developed countries that become a victim of the exploitation caused by capitalist policies. Hence, as a result, when natural disasters strike, the conditions become unbearable enough to cause mobilizations and migrations. Yet the countries towards which the migrants move then start to find it a threat to their identity and that leads them towards stricter immigration controls and tougher border management decisions. The other aspect regarding this was how countries that contribute the least to carbon emissions are having to suffer the greatest due to the climate change that is being caused as a result of those carbon emissions. The attempts at humanitarian interventions in climatic disaster-stricken countries seem hypocritical as a result.

There is a different form of racism emerging that begins to distinguish refugees as bad migrants or good migrants in those developed countries, ironically being the ones responsible that leading those people here. An important thing that we learned from the analysis was how artificial factors could be creating a cumulative effect alongside climate changes that could be leading people towards mass displacement and many global security issues. It must be understood however that not all displacement, mobilization, and refugees are driven out of these reasons and sometimes economic prosperity or chances towards providing the next generations to grow up adopting a better way of life could also be factors. Economic migrants were not discussed as much in one study but were termed an important factor to consider in another study.

Another theme that emerged from the discussion was how environmental and climatic changes lead to socio-economic variations that in turn determine the drive or tendency towards violence. For instance, counties with a higher dependence on agriculture will be socio-economically more dependent on the normal functioning of the ecosystem as opposed to developed countries such as in modern Europe. It emerged that Europe in the late 19th or 20th century was affected less by wars that would correlate with temperature changes as much as it was in the centuries before that. There was some contradiction in approach as one study correlated only temperature with security and conflict whereas in the other study, the effects of climate change that leads to resource scarcity were found only to have affected security when other drivers such as ethnic polarization, weak political structures, and other socio-economic and political factors came into play.

A different central theme that was explored in one study while not as regarded in others was the fact that population changes that come as a result of environmental changes are often subjective, temporary, and short-term that occur within developing or emerging states. Other researchers have not approached the topic keeping some complex factors into consideration. The effect of humanitarian assistance and its regular provision for example has found to affect displacement and migration. However, a common theme that emerged in the four studies we analyzed was the role of the state in managing and distributing resources. If a state can manage environmental challenges and come up with effective policies for adaptation, some of the socio-political effects that lead to instability out of those environmental challenges could be controlled. Furthermore, there is a need to recognize that not all migrations and displacements lead to conflict. It often depends upon the context and prevailing circumstances, one factor that has been ignored in all of the studies except one.

Climate change refugees that are permanently displaced are only when the conditions have turned hostile to an unbearable extent and the lands have become uninhabitable. If a displacement mobilizes towards the land where there are conflicts out of a sense of identity or interests are already high, permanent migrations do lead to the likelihood of violent conflict especially if the migrants themselves are also unwilling to relocate. But often at times, there have been instances where situations remained calm. Therefore during the research, we realized that there is a need for greater nuance and a holistic approach when approaching the subject. One weakness in the studies was a lack of consideration of external wars, invasions, or civil wars that are causing a lot of migrations that we see in the contemporary world today. The context behind invasions, such as controlling oil or natural resources could also depend on environmental and economic conditions.

One of the weaker studies in this regard was how violent conflict could be historically correlated to temperature variances historically. The study did not incorporate many socio-political, economic, or external factors that could have led to the war and theorized all wars that emerged out of temperature transitions be a result of agriculture productivity alone. Furthermore, it did not incorporate a plethora of different circumstances when comparing medieval China to medieval Europe. The findings were also not conclusive in suggesting anything except backing up some other future findings that could use it as an additional resource to indicate a trend. Although an important learning outcome from the study was its prediction of future expected behavior from European populations when faced with a climatic variation, and also indicates that proper resource management and state intervention can lead to better security, but yet again failed to account for the current polarization we see in Europe today that divides people over issues such as immigration and values, etc.

The studies reinforce some of the conclusions from our other source materials that highlight the importance of state policies and its functional roles in promoting a stable environment in which livelihoods could be perused with confidence. Internal conflicts as a result of constrained economic opportunities can also drive people towards economic migrations, as an indirect consequence of environmental changes. What we learned from all these studies was that variability in climate change does not act in isolation in determining human security, rather it is a cumulative effect of different social factors that could emerge from economic reasons as well as political, that would be supplemented by environmental variations emerging from climate changes. It could also be a result of geopolitical factors and the greed and lifestyle of a few developed nations and underlying racial attitudes. All of these could result in grievances and a sense of lack of control over one’s livelihood that leads to violent trends. The strength of the studies also lie in the fact that they indirectly address developed nations and indicate a shared sense of responsibility that is needed from them in order to preserve the ecosystem as well as collective human security.



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