The most dangerous political ideologies — those that rely on demagoguery and violence — will only become more viable in developed nations as the earth and her inhabitants enter a new regime of global warming.
In 2013, findings from the Mauna Loa observatory indicated that for the first time in recorded history, earths atmospheric CO2 levels have surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm). To put this in perspective, the last time earth’s greenhouse gas levels looked like this was 3 million years ago in the Pliocene epoch (think woolly mammoths) when sea levels were between 5 to 40 meters higher than they are now.
It looks dire, I’ll admit. Well — unless you’re op-ed columnist Jeff Jacoby, who submits that global warming might actually be good, as long as it helps Alaskans get their groceries easier.
Groceries aside, the question is not so much will we face the consequences, but when — and the answer to that question depends on where you live.
The way the sun’s energy acts on our little blue marble — meaning to say where solar radiation is concentrated — varies greatly over geographical space, and so does the affluence of the earth’s inhabitants.
The first people to feel the worst of climate change externalities live in warm, wet climates, generally located in developing areas of the world that have poor quality of infrastructure and — (ok- basically just think of areas that people from your old high school post about going to on Instagram over summer vacation). Regions such as these include Latin America, equatorial Africa, and southeast Asia.
Temperatures will rise and infrastructure and food systems will fail. These very real dangers are illustrated by devastating coastal flooding in Bangladesh, and the very real risk of crop failure — especially corn — in important Latin American economies under warmer average temperatures. The victims of climate change will have no choice but to move away— and they wont go south.
So what does this mean for global politics? It means migration. A lot of it.
The last decade has seen an unmistakable political shift in the United States and Europe, as public constituencies, experiencing the inevitable come-down of post war economic high— and the sobering reality of income inequality in a boom-bust economy — look towards increasingly authoritarian politicians for answers.
The mechanics of fascism operate heavily based on appeals to the most instinctive and reactionary parts of an individual. Infamous fascist movements in history have two main things in common: calculated demagoguery, and absolutely hideous hat-mustaches combos. I mean, seriously. What the hell is this:
Enter Donald Trump stage right. His supporters feel cheated. Disrespected. They should have more than this. Their parents rode the prosperity of the 50s and turned everything into liquid capital. They ruled this.
They don’t feel that anymore.
But the economy is booming, right? So why have they yet to amass the promised American fortune owed to them as the rightful successors to a destiny manifested? Of course, none of these grievances have any policy equivalent, they cannot be crafted into a neat House Bill called “Please Respect Sweaty Red Men” or something (well, maybe…).
They want to express this discontent. Trump rallies are famously energized (and dangerous) for a reason. However, there’s a problem: Cold War patriotism stripped them of the vocabulary they need to express their unhappiness with modern capitalism long ago. Surely, something isn’t working quite right when no one can afford medicine, and 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. But to doubt America’s economic genius would be to capitulate to the Commie scum — so they sit in the audience and wait for something else to blame: immigrants.
Like an expertly executed fracking operation, Trump has tapped into an inexhaustible flow of right-wing boomer malice. He has truly perfected the art of drawing spouts of seething rage from armies of normally docile grandpas.
Logically, the only way for such malicious yet simultaneously aimless energy to be transformed and actually used is in the form of racist scapegoat rhetoric. The result? A powerfully acidic concentration of anti-Mexican racism that has corroded any reasonable discourse beyond repair.
Under white supremacist rhetoric, immigrants become rapists. Murderers. Thieves. The reason your job doesn’t pay. The reason you can’t afford medicine. The reason your boss sucks. The reason your refrigerator just doesn’t make ice anymore. The reason your kids listen to rappers with facial tattoos now. Even though you live in Iowa, immigrants are the Terminator and they’re coming for you.
This whipped up angry pink Americans into a self-sustaining ball of nauseous gases and malice that can only be appeased by cleansing the land of the “others” and adding a big wall for good measure.
Here’s the point.
The abject failure of capitalist enterprise to deliver to the workers of white America what their political leaders promised, especially in the last 30 years, will see even more finger pointing at immigrants, and with warming temperatures eroding the viability of economies in the global south, climate refugees will seek new homes and opportunities in North America and Europe. This will form the base by which the rise of fascist rhetoric will continue to find an endless font of energy
With a projected population of 9.7 billion people by 2050, the world is right on track for the worst immigration crisis in history, and when the economically wanting (and really, lets face it — downright racist) citizens of the United States have to decide on literally any ethical question, it’s typically not pretty.