From the BBC: “The number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution reached a record high of nearly 60 million around the world in 2014, a UN report says. The document by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says the number of people forced to flee their homes rose by 8.3 million from the previous year. The continuing conflict in Syria is seen as a major factor behind the record numbers.” That’s getting close to 0.1% of the world’s population. It’s a horrible figure. North Africans are dying in the Mediterranean while Rohingyas float aimlessly in the Indian Ocean
Pacific. In some countries the refugees come close to outnumbering the native inhabitants. The largest contributor to refugee totals is Syria. War is all bloody hell. There are two points to this. First, the BBC correctly identifies the reasons why people flee their homes: war, conflict and persecution. Not on the list? Climate change. People do leave their homes when storms, floods or eathquakes strike, but they overwhelmingly choose to return when the worst of the weather has passed. There may come a day when climate change causes people to flee. That day has not arrived. Second, although I am a Lukewarmer who believes that climate change is real, a threat and should be addressed in the present day, where do our priorities lie? The head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Antonio Guterres, says “The drama is that if people think that humanitarians can clean up the mess. It’s no longer possible. We have no capacities to pick up the pieces.” I emphatically do not believe that funding should stop for the study of climate change. But I do believe that a lot of the very expensive climate messaging that is battering the eyes and ears of all in the developed world is a waste of money. That money could be used to help the UNHCR deal with the refugee crisis.
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