There are more important issues to be discussing than President Cobblepot’s latest tweet, but I feel the need to examine his wall fetish in a little more depth because lately, we are seeing Democrats, including all the 2020 candidates, buying into at least part of the Republican scare narrative. That bothers me. As a voter, even if my elections are rigged, I like to at least think there might be a difference between my choices. But in the last couple of presidential elections, I voted for Jill Stein to become the first female-identified POTUS. If she or whatever Green candidate were now to talk about our “immigration crisis,” I would blow a fuse.
According to the World Bank, by 2050 some 140 million people may be displaced by sea-level rise and extreme weather, driving escalations in crime, political unrest, and resource conflict. Even if the most conservative predictions about our climate future prove overstated, a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature during the next century will almost certainly provoke chaos, in what experts call climate change’s “threat multiplier”: Displacement begets desperation begets disorder. — The New York Times, April 10, 2019
First, let’s be clear. Immigration is a problem. So is emigration. Climate change will make both catastrophically worse. Most reliable estimates of the carrying capacity of the planet by mid-century fall in the range of 1 to 2 billion. By “reliable,” I mean science-based and factoring in the effects of rapid climate change on agriculture, water supplies, sea level rise, vector-borne disease, and biodiversity destruction. Some, like the Limits to Growth sequelae, even take microplastics into account through a morbid pollution equation.
Contrast that 1 billion with today’s 7.7 billion (April 2019) people, topping 8 billion by 2024, and projected, but by no means certain, to hit 9 billion in 2042. Like any exponential curve, this hockey stick began tilting upward after the Second World War and continues to incline more steeply by the year, abbreviating its doubling time with each generation. And yet, on the human evolutionary time scale, Homo colossus is a relatively recent phenomenon.
As we have seen from many competent studies of the rise and fall of great civilizations, human population adheres to a strict functional relationship with its food supply. It is in one-to-one equilibrium. As supply rises, so does fecundity. Conversely, when supply falls, for whatever reason, deaths outnumber births until a new equilibrium is established. One need only look to the droughts of Northeastern Africa in recent years for a current example of how that plays out. As the droughts worsened, hunger grew, civil society disintegrated, insurrections and civil wars erupted, and neighboring states were suddenly coping with massive refugee flows, conflict spillovers, and disease outbreaks. Fertility plummeted. Read More