Over the coming century, large portions of the most densely inhabited parts of the world will become essentially incapable of supporting human populations above very limited nomadic levels. The people living in these regions will be left with a simple choice: migrate or die.
While the current refugee crisis is certainly not a trivial matter for those most involved with it, the reality is that it represents just a trickle compared to what’s now slated to occur — owing to the greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere to date, and also due to the widespread deforestation and topsoil erosion/exploitation that has accompanied that.
As it stands, most refugees are by and large either: people coming from war zones with enough money available to them to arrange for possible transit to safer areas; or economic migrants on the other (mostly young males coming from regions where there isn’t enough work). As the century grinds on, the “refugees” will very likely be originating more and more with the rougher portions of the societies in question (those with military or police backgrounds, etc.).
For the time being, though, most of those that are actually coming from war zones (rather than simply from economically depressed regions) are from the “middle” or “upper” classes, relatively speaking. As such, they often make easy prey for human traffickers — with a great many inevitably being sold into slavery. This is especially true of unaccompanied minors.
Estimates from the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency Europol place the number of lone migrant children that have gone missing in Europe since arrival over the last few years at +10,000. It’s no real mystery what happens to these children, though, as it’s an open secret that some of the wealthiest countries in Europe are also some of the global hot spots when it comes the slavery of foreign women and children in sex work.
The point that’s being made here is that as refugee movement and mass migrations pick up over the coming decades, human slavery is slated to continue growing as a problem … with it already being the case that criminal gangs seem to be benefiting to a large degree from the growing ease at which trafficking can occur. As it stands, it’s estimated that some 40 million people are living as slaves worldwide.
On that subject, the prominent Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi recently made some interesting comments as part of a workshop in Jordan put together by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The comments seem worth discussing here.
One of the primary points that Satyarthi made in his comments was that the refugee crisis was greatly worsening the problem of human trafficking and slavery, by making it clear to criminal gangs how profitable such activities can be. It’s now estimated, according to Satyarthi, that organized gangs now profit from slavery to the tune of an estimated $150 billion a year.
“This refugee crisis has resulted in trafficking and slavery,” stated Satyarthi, the joint-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, due to his work fighting child labor.
“Human trafficking, small firearms, and drugs are the 3 most organized crimes. Now they are intermingled,” he stated at the aforementioned workshop.
Reuters provides more: “India is home to more slaves than any other nation — previous global estimates put the number at 18 million — with men, women, and children trapped in forced labor and sex work. … Satyarthi said he had heard reports of Syrian refugees agreeing to child marriages for their daughters to stop them from being sold into the sex trade or other forms of slavery.
“He will meet with leaders from Jordan’s King Abdullah to Panama’s Juan Carlos Varela and various Nobel laureates and activists this month to address challenges facing children on the move, such as migrants, refugees, and trafficking victims. … Satyarthi said India’s first anti-trafficking law, which may be passed this month after being approved by cabinet last week, was a major step forward with life sentences for traffickers and a rehabilitation fund to help victims rebuild their lives.”
Obviously, while all such efforts are commendable, they aren’t enough on their own. As Satyarthi noted while speaking specifically about the situation in India: “The caste system, gender discrimination, and the apathetic attitude of government officials and corruption are the biggest hurdles.”
The situation isn’t much different elsewhere of course, though divisions always vary by region based along different ethnic, religious, identity, etc., lines.
The reason that I chose to highlight this subject is because discussions about these matters — slavery, the refugee crisis, future mass migrations, etc. — usually seem to devolve to pre-staked out positions and mischaracterization of the motives of others.
An Even-Handed Overview Of The Current Refugee Crisis & Future Mass Migrations
So, to offer a condensed view of the situation here, to those who aren’t too partisan to hear it … based on decades of international travel, related work, and an extensive reading of history:
— Current refugee flows comprise a mix of: genuine refugees coming from war zones; economic migrants; and those being trafficked into slavery of various types.
— The motivations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel — with regard to the supposedly humanitarian gesture of inviting large numbers of refugees into Europe — likely stemmed from a mixture of: the expectation that such people could make up part of the economic underclass of Germany (which Turks who were let in many decades ago still comprise a large part of), thereby helping to curtail the effects of an aging workforce; and virtue signaling to the international community.
— Truly “humanitarian” actions depend, as all other effective actions do as well, on an honest appraisal of a situation. No one who has spent much time in Germany (or Northern Europe) as a foreigner is likely to have any real illusions about the openness of the society — bringing in large numbers of people from outside of these societies was never going to lead to anything but mass-projection, conflict, scapegoating, and the balkanization of society. Putting people in such a situation is not “helping them.”
— While climate change — through the effects of droughts, water scarcity, declining crop yields, and accompanying conflict and societal breakdown — certainly represents one of the broader causes behind the current refugee flows, there is no doubt that the extensive bombing of the regions in question by foreign powers (the US and European powers primarily) is a more immediate cause. Bombing people’s countries out of existence isn’t helping them.
— To put that another way, when one country imposes its own cultural and political institutions on another in the name of idealistic universalism, which is often accomplished through wars or proxy wars (ahem…), what often enough results is a failed state.
— Much of Southern Europe is itself slated to experience desertification and rapidly increasing water stress and falling crop yields within just the next 50–100 years. In other words, mass migrations out of Southern Europe and into northern territories is pretty much a given at this point — those coming from the Near East, the Middle East, and Africa are mistaken if they think that they are going to find long-term stability in Southern Europe.
— There are substantial cultural differences between the societies of Northern Europe and Southern Europe (to greatly oversimplify the divisions) — and accompanying widespread stereotyping, projection, and scapegoating. This will only worsen as time goes by and climate weirding and warming intensifies — which will occur at the same time that global geopolitical power is shifting to Asia and away from Europe, which will intensify the cultural conflicts in question.
— The lifestyles that those in Europe have become accustomed to over recent history are an aberration, which was only possible because of fossil fuels and colonialism. As the effects of those two factors continue to diminish (as high-grade fossil fuel reserves in Europe continue to deplete, and as the “third world” grows in influence), much of the population will be forced to accept a “lower” standard of living. That is, a standard of living that’s less of an outlier from the global average. The general public will not comprehend why this is happening, and will demand that someone or some group of people be to blame. That being the case, the idea that large numbers of refugees can be accommodated isn’t credible.
Those wanting further background may get something out of reading this article: What Will Happen To Indian Subcontinent’s ~2 Billion People As Temperatures Soar?
Images via Alliance 8.7