Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Why This Migrant Crisis is Only the Beginning (or at least the tip of the iceberg)

The migrant crisis is big news right now, as Syrians flow in mass to Germany and Austria via a torturous Greece -> Macedonia -> Serbia - >Hungary route.
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Syrians to Greece
But this isn't new or surprising, it just happens to be the focus of a news media that is constantly looking for a story.
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Early this year, it was Africans making a very similar crossing to Italy in similar boats.
Africans headed to Italy
Over the past few years it has been Afghani refugees making similar crossing from Indonesia to Australia.
Afghanis to Australia
What these refugee crisis' have in common is a conflux of 2 important things, and there will be an extra third driver soon.
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1) The world is now more connected in terms of communication and images.  Not so much that we here in the West suddenly see this, but that those people in poorer nations see us.  They want what we have.  Not literally our things, but they want security, jobs and a peaceful way of life.  Often not specifically for themselves, but for the children and family.  This has been the primary ignition of migration always.
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American's ancestors came here for a better life.  Most of them (English, Irish, Italian, Dutch, East European, German, Scandinavian) didn't come for religious freedom.  Sure a few of the Pilgrims did, but that is about it.  The rest of us all came for a better life for our families.  And we came from the 1600s - the 1900s.
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As the news got out, other migrations came here for the same thing.  The Chinese in the 1800s, the Mexicans in the 1900s and other Central Americans in the 90s and 2000s.
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Well now it isn't just the United States, and those people who are willing to go into the unknown.  Now the Western way of life is known and people want to live in that peacefulness.


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2) Life threatening conflict.  Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, at times Mali, Chad and CAR: all of these places are stuck in a civil war, sometimes brought on by the Wests' bumbling and sometimes just because of civil war.  Families may tough it out for a little while.  The "it has to get better" idea.  But civil war, especially now, has a way drawing in more firepower and death.  And if that spreads, then people will move to save their families.
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These two things, local horrors combined with actual peace and prosperity that people can see, have combined to create the latest migrant crisis of massive proportions.
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And what, pray tell is the third? Well, we will soon see massive migration based on climate - as in next decade, not tomorrow.
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Take, for example, Bangladesh.  It has 160 million people - have as many as the United States, tucked into an area the size of Wisconsin, and 46% of them live no higher 30 feet above sea level, most lower.
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Climate change raise the ocean level, but that isn't the real problem.  The real problem is that it makes "weather" more powerful.  As in droughts are worse and Cyclones horrible.
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Remember Super Storm Sandy?  It ruined hundreds of miles of coastal property in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
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No imagine that same storm as a Cyclone in Bangladesh.  Let's change the location of the map.  We see that if a Cyclone that size hit Bangladesh, nearly 1/2 the country would be overwhelmed with water.  The storm surge would effect over 100,000,000 people.  Where do those refugees go?  They will stream into India and Burma - who already are overwhelmed with populations and problems of their own.
Bangladesh imposed over the Super Storm Sandy Area.
Remember that Sandy caused destruction up into Vermont!
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Migration, whether economically drive or driven as refugees from war or devastation, will get much worse.  To have any hope of a stable planet, it must be addressed at the source (and no I don't mean climate change here).  We all have a self-interest to make economic advancement and peaceful life more probably in their home countries.
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South Americans, by and large, don't migrate to the US for a "better" life.  They have a Western life in Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires or Santiago.  Middle class Mexicans don't migrate for a better life.  They can see progress locally.  Syrians and Iraqis did not USED to migrate, they were building betters lives peacefully.  Sure, it sucked under a dictator, but right now they are taken their lives and fleeing because there is no HOPE of a better life.
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We - the world - need to figure out how to promote peace and development in the regions; not just blow shit up and leave the locals to fight it out.  Yes, I think George W. Bush screwed the pooch on Iraq and Afghanistan.  But Obama hasn't done better in creating opportunity.  Obama helped blow up Libya and Yemen with no plan as well.  And Congress (Democratic and Republican) has totally screwed up cutting funds to create better lives but increasing funds to bring about more disruption (not to mention death).
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America will not take in millions of refugees.  No one will.  So we owe it to our children to help fix world so it isn't reacting crisis to crisis.  And it will benefit the world, not just us

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