TDB Today: The Inconvenient Neighbours

by Gareth on October 16, 2013

Over at The Daily Blog today, in a post headlined The Inconvenient Neighbours, I consider the case of the Kiribati man who is claiming refugee status in New Zealand because of the impact of sea level rise on his home island. With the IPCC report suggesting that sea level could rise by as much as a metre this century, it’s surely a sign of things to come…

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

jh October 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

No one takes collapse seriously but you just have to look at Chinas precarious water situation.
I notice on Frogblog whereas Keith Locke talked about “taking our share of climate refugees” (50 to 100 million all in state houses?) most comments were of the close the gates get a navy variety.

Gareth October 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

My view, FWIW, is that we should be willing to take refugees from the Pacific – all of them, if necessary. But by far the larger impact on NZ’s population will come from Australians – every last one of whom has the right to live here.

jh October 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

One thing that bothers me about Pacific Island migration is that they represent overshoot (not talking Kiribati), but no one dares look at it that way.

Gary Young October 16, 2013 at 11:47 am

“most comments were of the close the gates get a navy variety.”

Which is hopelessly unrealistic unless we want to arm ourselves to the teeth and lay barbedwire along the shores.

Italy, with all it’s resources, cannot keep out or dissuade the hundreds of refugees from North Africa and Australia’s refugee influx is an example we observe on a weekly basis.

Climate refugees may eventually number in the tens of thousands and frankly if they decide to come en masse to New Zealand then come they will. Believing they can be ordered to go away is simply delusional.

Rob Taylor October 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Well-heeled climate refugees are already here – or at least, building megadollar boltholes as insurance against the seemingly inevitable:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11139546

Thomas October 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I guess on the slippery slide to a Mad Max world we will live through the ‘realities’ of gated communities for the rich and a slow slummification of the rest. Visits to Rio, JoBurg and probably many other places provide a bit of a prequel. But as in the travel catalogs, the outcome is likely going to be much worse than the advert….

Unless of course, we get to grips with the perils of our ‘exponential times’ before the exponential processes eat humanity out of home and shelter, land, food and water…. It will take a heck of a lot of good people making brilliant strategic decisions. And whats the odds of that? ….

jh October 16, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I would be careful in how you talk about rich. In a world suffering from a climate disaster a sustainable Amish type society would be considered rich. Even if (theoretically) the Plains Indians had a vast expanse preserved to carry on their hunter gatherer lifestyle (prior to the westward spread of white farmers) they would have been considered rich.

Thomas October 16, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Yes you are correct. An Amish family with a larder full from a good harvest might be better of than a ‘rich’ one locked inside their gated stronghold with a heap of $$ which they might find perhaps hard to turn into edible commodities.
The Amish though, might find armed roaming suburbanites raiding the larder…

Kiwiiano October 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

“Italy, with all it’s resources, cannot keep out or dissuade the hundreds of refugees”…..

That’s because Italy is not torpedoing the ships and machine-gunning the survivors. It’s hard to see how that scenario won’t play out eventually.

I’ve wondered if the current obsession with living-dead, zombie fantasies isn’t a premonition of the wave upon wave of nothing-to-lose climate refugees.

Rob Taylor October 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Indeed, Kiwi; re zombiefication, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece describes immigrants as “diseased sub-human invaders”.

http://news.msn.co.nz/worldnews/8737181/greece-targets-wife-of-golden-dawn-leader

bill October 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Ever read ‘The Body Economic‘ by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu (yes, it’s a plug!)

The rise of Golden Dawn is a direct consequence of the social breakdown that predictably results from the kind of toxic austerity program that was implemented in Greece at the behest of the IMF and the banks, and because Merkel wanted an example made of them. An example is what she got…

The subtitle of the book is ‘why austerity kills’. It does. Austerity is now a Religion of the Right, because even though it does not work* – and has been shown not to time and time again – its ideological value is more important than any paltry real-world results.

These aggressive and reactionary forces – whether its Golden Dawn or the Koch Brothers – don’t do learning. Frightened, cowardly and alienated people don’t do learning. Societies with no social cohesion that do scapegoating rather than solidarity and are capable of voting in parties that will systematically destroy their masses’ own best interests (but that’s OK as long as they give ‘the furriners’ a hard time) don’t do learning.

We’re either All In This Together, in which case we have a chance, or it’s Devil-take-the-hindmost in the Stupid ascendency, which will lurch to a new level of Stupid with each Stupid Crisis. Consult your history books as to which outcome you think is more likely…

The Zombies, incidentally, will have a point. They certainly won’t have caused the crisis, so why the hell should they have to do all the paying for it?

*At least in the sense of ‘reviving the economy’ – I’d agree with Klein that this is not the goal; the real purpose of Austerity is to realise opportunities to implement the ‘Shock Doctrine’ and radically remake society for the benefit of corporate elites.

Thomas October 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm

There is also a real political side to Austerity: How long can any one society consume a lot more resources than they provide?
For Greece the fault was to be married to the rest of the EU via the Euro. With a floating currency it would have needed no Merkel and no bailout. The floating currency would have taken care long ago of trends being amiss and the worst may have been avoided.

But in the end, we will all get the ‘Austerity Medicine’ prescribed. Not by some alien dictator but by mother nature, who’s planetary resources we are drawing down like a drug addict with the mortgage on his house…. The reckoning as we all know will come. We will all as a society need to live within the scope of our proverbial and literal ‘harvests’. We will need to live with a balanced budget. Drawing down credit from the future as if we had planets lined up for the plunder by the dozen is not going to happen much longer.

bill October 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm

IIRC one of the (Friedmanite American) architects of the Euro spoke openly of hoping its implementation would bring about the end of the European Social Democracies via that very method.

And look what it’s achieved!

However The Body Economic features a wonderful passage where an Icelandic politician boasts that they’d “jailed the Banksters and bailed out the citizenry – the exact opposite of what the Americans did!” (again IIRC, this being the downside of audiobooks!).

If there’s real social solidarity even Mother Nature’s inevitable Austerity doesn’t have to bring general misery. But thanks to the power of The Stupid the destruction of all forms of mutualism is now the ‘Utopian’ dream of the Right, as currently seen in the triumphalist lunatics in the US who are prepared to bring down the world economy in order to save their (largely-invented) homeland from the dreadful prospect of a slightly-less-awful privatised health system.

If such Ratbags are allowed to implement their policies Greece is what we all have to look forward to. I for one do not intend to go quietly.

Thomas October 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Well said!

I guess the truism that ‘evolution is the work of a blind watchmaker’ may have to be extended to the evolution of the ‘memes’. We may have thought ourselves (species average that is) so smart as to have upturned that principle (lack for foresight in natural evolution) and replaced it with planed action. But perhaps not so. As times get tense, the less precinct variety of memes is likely to capture the grey matter of the masses, as selfishness and general Nazisms are going to self replicate like cockroaches, driven by fear. Images of nutters at US gun shows come to mind, carting off small mountains of ammo….

Yes I guess we shall indeed live in such times as heralded by the dreaded proverb on the Chinese fortune cookies…

bill October 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

And let’s all be glad that the forces of Outright Stupidity have been defeated by the forces of Milquetoast Rationality on the ‘Bamacare shutdown.

But if this dangerous farce hasn’t made the GOP the Pariah Party it deserves to be in the electorate’s eyes then there really is little hope for the US…

“We fought the good fight” says Boehner. What a jerk!

Thomas October 17, 2013 at 7:43 pm

What I constantly fail to fathom is the inexplicable ‘accuracy’ with which the electorate serves quasi hung administrations in the US with electoral majorities hanging in the very low single digit balance with alternating majorities in the senate and the congress and a president resembling a duck much more than the eagle.
One would assume 60 to the guys with a brain and 40 to the jerks (even that would be an embarrassment). But how do they roll the dice and each time dish it out 50/50? What is the process that serves this up?

The cynic in me says: the very rich want it this way as it clearly enables maximum control of the agenda through the backroom dealings and the lobby groups. What good is a lobby group if one side has a solid majority and does not need to heed to the oppositions bogey men?

And as a scientist I do not believe in this being coincidental. So somehow, in the pre-election phase, the men in black hand out enough dosh to buy air time (etc.) to either side until they get what they pay for… a lame and disabled government with a maximum impact that their influence can buy thereafter….

Rob Taylor October 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

For those interested, here is a talk by David Stuckler, one of the authors of “The Body Economic”:

http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2013/the-body-economic

jh October 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Yes but consider the issues and the dialogue. Is it any wonder some people say FU and adopt a Nazi ideology. I.e these aren’t the brightest people and they are unable to articulate a counter argument to immigration and the ideologies imposed by progessives. So you have arguments about immigration which an expert with impressive academic credentials will tell you is “good for everybody” and you have “distinguished academics” talking about the value of diversity.
Now they could counter that with arguments from economists who say immigration doesn’t benefit people like them (Krugman) and they could counter the multi culturalists by entering a minefield of academic debate as sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists battle it out with evolutionary psychologists.. Much easier to blame the migrants or do what Anders Breivik, did and take it out on the progressive liberals.

Gary Young October 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

“torpedoing the ships and machine-gunning the survivors”

Sadly, I have little doubt there are people of certain political persuasions in Australia (and indeed in Europe) who quietly fantasise about doing precisely that.

I hope I don’t live to see it and we can all hope that there are enough people of goodwill to keep those types from political power.

jh October 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

and there are people say things like “Both in New Zealand and globally, the best of the leftwing tradition has always rejected small-minded nationalism, xenophobia and racism. In fact, leftists of an internationalist tradition have always favoured globalization and getting rid of national borders and barriers to migration. Progressive advocates of globalization of course do not defend a handful of rich imperialist countries, including New Zealand, dominating the world’s economy, but instead advocate an integrated and radically egalitarian world economy where production is based on social need and not on private profit. ”
http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2012/02/guest-blog-post-john-moore-leftwing-xenophobia-in-new-zealand.html

but they have a world view similar to libertarians in so far as one says the human economy can’t wreck the biosphere whereas the others say humans can and should provide for other humans because their will always be plenty (resources aren’t finite).

Kiwiiano October 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

There was another interesting posting today re Austerity and the global finances:
http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/10/14/two-views-of-our-current-economic-and-energy-crisis/
…the closing paragraphs (my italics)…..
“We are kidding ourselves if we think that we can decide to slowly reduce oil and fossil fuel usage over the next 40 or more years. If oil prices drop to, say, $30 barrel because of debt defaults, oil production will drop very quickly–not based on some slow decline curve. Natural gas and coal prices will drop dramatically too, essentially putting an end to their production. Jobs will disappear with the lack of fossil fuels. Eighty or ninety percent of us will again need to work in manual food production without fossil fuels. Education, government, and services of all kinds will shrink rapidly.

Nature is deciding for us right now what is ahead. We likely will have little choice in the matter. If we do have a choice at all, it is likely to be in the direction of serious back-pedaling, in terms of population, and in terms of learning to live essentially without fossil fuels. The future is likely to be very different from the past.”

I had a repeat customer at Bunnings a year or so ago who was stockpiling hand tools, garden implements, etc. Maybe he was the only sane person in the building.

Bob Bingham October 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Climate change is not about whether or not to wear shorts to work because it is warmer but the affect it will have on food production. We are already seeing hints of what is happening with droughts in America, Russia, China and Australia. So far it has not resulted in the mass movement of people although some people claim the problems in Syria are the result of drought and water shortage. If you don’t have food to feed your family you put your boots on and move to a safer place,
Sea level rise is fairly slow moving but a one meter rise would be devastating for many major population areas and many scientists believe that the IPCC assessment is very inadequate..

FlatFish October 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

A good game plan might be to drop NZ’s profile – make it less desirable to others. Perhaps by.
Not wining Americas Cup.
Changing the name of the country.
Tainting milk products so people think our land is polluted.
Spreading the idea that our rivers are sewers.
Having some oil spills.
Arranging some significant earthquakes.
Having some volcanoes erupt.
Welcoming fracking.
Dropping our incomes.
Encouraging political corruption…

Who would want to come here then?

Murray October 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm

The thought of New Zealand being invaded by hordes of climate refuges is an interesting proposition. We already have a good proportion of the pacific island people, although they have mostly been economic refuges to date. I think NZ would serve the world best by maintaining to be a food producer and export to those who can no longer grow their own food. World food production currently seems more than adequate though, judging by the obesity epidemic.

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