Violence and Climate Change Refugees
Today as global temperatures rise as a result of climate change, drought and other environmental effects are leading to social unrest, political agitation and even violence. The changes in precipitation, increase in temperature, sea-level rise or extreme weather events have contributed to many infectious diseases, heat-related disorders, mental health disorders and malnutrition. There is increasing evidence to suggest that collective violence is causally linked to climate change. Therefore as the world leaders have to deal with the environmental calamities caused by climate change, there is also a need to confront threats to global security that are a byproduct of that change.
The discourse that surrounds the 65 million refugees that have been displaced as a result of economic crisis, climate disasters or fleeing wars presents a new challenge. When environmental disasters and war threatens all forms of ecosystemic, geographic and social borders, it warrants the necessity of critical race theories to transcend conventional boundaries. These crises and mobilizations are leading to migrations that present a racialized security risk to different regimes, both that proclaim racial liberalism or to security centric regimes.
The environmental security discourse increasingly appropriates environmental racism that seeks to mobilize and rehabilitate the environmental migrant without that leading into a transformation of contemporary capitalist colonialism that originally led to the displacement of the migrant. The effects of climate change and carbon emissions have been noted to be racially unequal in their distribution by environmental experts. The question of human induced environmental changed as well as capitalist extraction that disperses waste unequally across different regions are also being noted. Some researchers have noticed how Latino and Black people had to bear the toxic burden that was a result of the developed world’s collective addiction to fossil fuels, in the form of respiratory diseases and cancers. The destruction of native lands as an aftereffect of colonial capitalism has led to the extractive destruction of native lands that has affected racial or national groups on an unequal basis, this poverty and exploitation leads them to be more vulnerable to natural disasters, and could lead towards mass migration.
A Climate change disaster occurring as a result of racial ecology of capitalism is not farfetched to think of. The capitalist exploitation that works to improve the living conditions of the white population, leads to humanitarian disasters and any attempts at western humanism also reeks of a racist hypocrisy. This is due to the fact that places that are suffering most as a result of climate change have contributed the least to carbon emissions. Therefore the disease, incarceration, toxicity and gun violence that have come as a result of the anthropocene has had real world death dealing effects as an aftereffect of that racism, that is masked by political liberalism.
The effects of climate change and its intertwined relation with capitalism racism also leads us towards understanding the phenomena of racism from a broader perspective. Racism should not only be understood as a set of moral transgressions but as an effect of the imbrication and material formation of social relations in not only human networks and settlements but on the basis of ecological reproduction as well. Therefore it is not just an effect of one’s differentiation of race, but it is composed of both deterritorializing and territorializing forces that reconfigures race as it moves through collective struggles and embodied interactions.
The racial surveillance of migrants to Europe that are coming from South Asia, Levant and North Africa indicate a pervasive Islamophobia and anti-blackness. The sorting conducted by European states to mark non Syrians through language, skin color or nationality while mobilizing the police by perceiving the Muslims to have an inherent tendency towards violence, suggest racial overtones in how regulations are carried out against those populations that are already fleeing religious, racial or other forms of discrimination in the states the left. The discourse on assimilation and anti-radicalization divide migrants into good migrants or bad migrants, or as refugees or terrorists, and environmental migrants or economic migrants.
To dismiss the environmental dimensions of racism, from the other factors contributing to racial assemblage ignores the vital role of the colonial form of capitalism built on carbon economies, that led to the mass displacement of humans in the first place, as a result of the ethnic conflicts, oil-related wars, and environmental and economic crises it brought.
Ahuja, N. (2016). Race, Human Security, and the Climate Refugee. English Language Notes, 54(2), 25-32. Retrieved from https://cpb-us-east-1-juc1ugur1qwqqqo4.stackpathdns.com/sites.ucsc.edu/dist/f/396/files/2014/11/Ahuja-Climate-Refugee.pdf