The Connection Between Refugees and Climate Change

The refugee crises around the world, and in particular, Syria, are having a big impact on world governments and global citizens. World leaders in predominantly Western countries are trying to decide if they will take refugees or increase their refugee intake and by how many. Many media pundits and everyday people are debating the crises. There are those who are operating from a place of fear. They are afraid that many refugees will be a burden on already-stretched social welfare systems. A smaller, more fervent number fear that some of the refugees will commit crimes and acts of terror.

It seems the wider majority of peopleĀ  are still able to see the humanity of those seeking a peaceful place to live. The majority wish to welcome refugees with open arms and help them resettle.

Countries accepting refugees have the delicate task of finding a balance between taking care of current citizens and residents while also welcoming new immigrants. Now is the time to perfect the process.

If governments and societies want to staunch the flow of refugees and migrants across borders, they must addresses the causes leading to these crises. One of the biggest of which is looming just on the horizon is that of climate refugees: those who will be fleeing from areas suffering the effects of rising seas, depleted water resources and more.

Climate change effects will further aggravate already tense situations around the world as communities begin to fight over water resources or as those fleeing rising oceans levels move their communities to higher ground or seek out new land masses entirely. Fishermen are already forced to dive deeper to make a catch or encroach on others’ territory to avoid going home empty-handed. Salinated farmlands will be unable to produce crops and families will be forced to seek out new land across borders and territory lines.

Continued climate affects will destabilize many regions and lead to further conflict that, whether by nature or by war, will create new refugees. These refugees will go throughout the world looking for new homes and will impact many societies whether directly or otherwise.

This is but one of many reasons addressing climate change and taking action is important for everyone. “But how can I make a difference in Australia or the United States or Canada or anywhere else?” There are many ways, but a few simple ones to get started are to:

  1. Contact your government representatives
    • Let them know you’re concerned about our climate
    • Tell them to vote in support of positive environmental action such as renewable energy projects and to vote against polluting like coal mining, drilling for oil, dumping waste in protected lands and also getting rid of chemicals harming our environment, health, and wildlife.
    • Let them know you are against indiscriminate bombings and war.
  2. Spend time volunteering at a refugee organization
    • Listen to and share the stories of those fleeing war.
    • Help collect donations for newly arrived migrants.
  3. Donate your money or time
    • To refugee resource non-profits like UNHCR
    • To environmental organizations like Greenpeace
  4. Educate others about what’s happening
    • Start a conversation with people
  5. Buy or support renewable resources
    • As much as possible buy energy from renewable sources
    • Reuse your resources or switch to multi-use items such as ceramic or recycled plastic coffee cups; or carry your own utensils instead of using single-use plastic knives, forks, and spoons.

There are many other ways to make a change, but these are great options to get you started.

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