Climate Change, Immigration & Peter Pan

Peter Pan, yes, the story of someone who did not want to grow up. Having reached that magical age of awareness, he/she was now perfectly content to freeze that reality forever.

"Rene" the Bar in Budoia

“Rene” the Bar in Budoia.  The only changes in 40+ years are the owners.

These days, as I walk around my small little village of Budoia, population 2500, it is as it was when I first moved here to Italy 40 years ago, so I am reminded how things change and how they remain the same.

Nowadays, even in the smallest villages, it is not uncommon to see Africans and Chinese, here and there going about their daily business.  The Chinese are running many of the bars, where Italians get their coffee, newspapers, aperitif, etc. during the day, from dawn till late into the night.  Probably why the Chinese prosper, as the long hours no longer seem to appeal to the younger European generation. There are also Romanians and others from the Balkans, but Africans and Chinese stand out for obvious reasons.

With all the angst of the refugee crisis and immigration in general, I realize that for the 40 years I have been coming to Italy, I have always seen Africans here, even in small towns like Budoia. Chinese are a more recent phenomenon, first appearing in the outdoor markets 20 years ago and now in significant numbers in the bar business.  I have heard no complaints about the quality of their coffee and at least here, there is an acceptance that speaks to human migration.

Now, let’s rewind a bit.

From reading this blog, many of you know that Dauntless was docked right next to the Viking Tower in Waterford.

Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and was founded by the Vikings (actually Danes) in the 9th century. It was taken over by the Anglo-Norman invaders in the 12th century and was one of the most important ports in Ireland until just recently due to its deep water port.

Waterford is the only town in Ireland that kept it’s Viking name.  A few hundred years after its founding, The Anglo-Normans came to Waterford to kick the Vikings out, who in turn had dislodged the few Celts who lived there.

Who were these Anglo-Normans?  The Anglos were made up of Saxons, originally from Saxony in Northern Germany and Engels (from whence we get the name “English” and the language), who came from the area of northern Germany, Denmark (from where the Vikings came from) and a bit of Friesland Northern islands north of Germany and Holland). The Normans of course were from Normandy, the NW corner of France.

So, these groups of people from northern France and Germany, after a stopover in England, decided to kick the Danes/Viking’s out of Ireland or at least Waterford, since it was a good place to be.

Now the Vikings who had settled Waterford, really liked Waterford.  It was much warmer and nicer than where they came from.  So when the English/Normans pushed them out, they didn’t move far, just up the road about 3 miles north of town, to a neighborhood called Ballybeg.  Now, what is interesting about Ballybeg nowadays, is the number of times I was warned about the “that neighborhood”.  I’m guessing that people in Waterford have been talking about “those” people in Ballybeg for the last 900 years. The fact that Waterford kept it’s Viking name, which means large port and the Celts also called it, “Lairge Port” speaks to the fact that even after the Anglo-Normans arrived, the Vikings were more assimilated than replaced.

In fact, a recent issue of the BBC History Magazine talks about how the Vikings may have assimilated as much as raped and pillages over the years, throughout the northern world.  Who knew?

So to look at it as dispassionately as possible, as we go back in time, when did migration/immigration start? Yesterday? Last year? 10 years ago? 100? 1000? 10,000? With Columbus? With …? Get the picture?

Immigrants are so labeled by those who migrated before them. Humans have been moving to find better climates, better food, better jobs, better lives, for at least 200,000 years.

Now related to all those humans, is that this week 190 countries have “struck a deal over that weekend that ushers in a broad, new international effort to wind down the fossil fuel era to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Being an Atmospheric Scientist myself, I marvel at the thought that mankind thinks we are so powerful.  Much like Prometheus bringing fire to humans. But with that fire, we also got evils.

Clearly, the planet is warming.  Mankind’s activities have clearly warmed the planet over the last 10,000 years.  We are presently about 2 degrees above the Ice Age temperatures.  And that’s my big rub, had humans not existed, what would the temperature be now?  Probably close to Ice Age temperatures, probably colder, as the inter-glacial period would have been ending, thus ushering in a new, 5th Ice Age.

Now, everyone of course, knows that 56 million years ago, the planet was 5 degrees warmer than today and there were no ice caps, with forests extending from the farthest north to Antarctica.

My point being that the planet has been far warmer and far colder.

Humans are a part of the environment, just as the whales or birds in the sky. With the rise of agriculture and industrialization, the planet has warmed and will continue to do so; without it, we could not have supported the population the world now has.

We also may have averted the 5th Ice Age.

No matter.

We can all sit back and marvel at the hubris of people today.  For having warmed Earth, the two degrees necessary for life to be successful; we now want to stop the planet warming and further interfere with the climatic processes that have been going on for over 4 billion years.

That’s hubris.

We want industrialization with only its benefits and not the disadvantages.  A warmer planet with more CO2 in the air will grow more food crops, but for those who are not hungry, that’s not a consideration.

Why do we differentiate between a political and economic refugee?  Evidently, we as a society have already decided that starving to death is a better outcome than being thrown in jail for one’s beliefs?

Migration was OK until it wasn’t. We can’t allow further migration because we, who have already migrated, are happy with the status quo.

The climate has always been changing, but now we must stop it. Why, because we like it just so.

I wish our society were debating these issues.

We can’t see the forest for the trees. So let’s cut them down.

But then, now, having re-read this countless times before posting; I see a third option:

We tackle those subjects we have no control over because it diverts attention from the true everyday tragedies that we do control and cause. Like Bread & Circuses. 

If we concentrate on changing the temperature 100 years from now, nobody pays attention to the hundreds dying every day from being denied basic human rights!

WOW. That’s too cynical for even I. So let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt.

We have chosen this moment to freeze in time.  Just like Peter Pan.

 

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3 thoughts on “Climate Change, Immigration & Peter Pan

  1. WOW!!! Great post. I have never heard that argument in the warming debate. Any sources I can follow up on. Right on in migration issue. WS

    • Sad to say, but the domination of news on cable channels has intensified the tendency to over simplify complex issues. With broadcasters and much of the population having an ever decreasing understanding of science, this allows politicians of all ilks to get away with zingers and statements that barely have a whiff of basis in fact.

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