With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in fear and our lives are disrupted. I’m working from home. My wife’s business has closed. Several neighbors are in intensive-care-units with the virus. We are in self-quarantine. Our retirement plans have lost 45% of their value. The only funny part is there’s no toilet paper to be found anywhere.
The COVID-19 fear and disruption probably is temporary. A few years from now it is likely to be a bad memory for most of us, a very bad memory for some. The climate crisis will cause greater fear and disruption of our lives, and it will not be as temporary. It never will be just a memory. Pandemic disease may be one of the results of the climate crisis, but it most likely will not be the first or even the worst of the climate terrors. That probably will be the climate refugee crisis.
For the sake of example, consider Lincoln, Nebraska, a city with about 285,000 people. It will not be bothered by rising seas or hurricanes. The high planes aquifer system (which includes the Ogallala aquifer) is running out of fresh water, but Lincoln is on its wettest part so it will not have the extensive drought problems the old “dust-bowl” areas will have. What Lincoln does have is a reputation for being “refugee friendly.”
For the sake of example, let’s assume very few foreign refugees get to Lincoln. Let’s also assume that Lincoln does not receive many refugees from South Florida, where sea-level rise will displace millions of Americans. But one can easily assume that Lincoln will accept refugees fleeing the drought of the new dust bowl, reaching from Western Nebraska southward to, and including, Texas. These refugees will be experiencing far more fear and disruption than we feel today with COVID-19. They will have left behind good jobs and air-conditioned homes and full refrigerators. Unfortunately, they will not leave behind their guns.
The good people of Lincoln, at first, will invite refugees into their homes and shelters, until these fill up. Motel and hotel rooms will run out of vacancies, but Americans unfortunate enough to live in areas afflicted by climate change will keep arriving. Lincoln will continue trying to help. They will build refugee camps in public parks, using tax dollars to supply water, food, electricity, portable toilets, and construct make-shift homes and bring in trailers. For a while, they probably will even have toilet paper. But refugees will keep arriving and everything will be used up quickly.
At the same time that refugees will be moving to cities like Lincoln, Nebraska, the world’s economy will be suffering, with climate-change problems at most coastlines and many drought areas. So the people of Lincoln will not be able to find jobs for their guests, even for those with the best education and experience. Electricity grids will be strained, so there will be brownouts and occasional black-outs. There may be enough water, but distribution of it to the new refugees will be difficult. Having enough food will become a concern. Sanitary conditions in the refugee camps will deteriorate. Army-style cots will be stacked right next to each other. Showers will be very rare. There will not be enough portable toilets and those existing will not be processed as often as necessary. Common colds will turn into influenza, which will turn into pneumonia, and disease will become rampant. Soon there will be more refugees than there are citizens of Lincoln.
The refugees with guns will come into residential parts of the city and will riot. There will not be enough police. The National Guard and even the U.S. Military will be busy with cities that are going under water or are experiencing serious drought and will not come to help. The rioters will try to steal food, water, and electricity, and the city’s electricity will end, and sinks and toilets will no longer work. Lincoln, Nebraska, will die. This will happen to nearly all cities throughout the United States and the world.
The scenario described above will happen unless, in the very near future, we stop sending carbon up into the atmosphere and start pulling it down. The rest of the world will have the same problems American cities will have. Cities such as Lincoln, with no drought or sea-level problems of their own, will be overwhelmed with refugees overburdening all attempts at support, and bringing crime, riots, and disease. Police and armed forces will be unable to stop the rioters, and hospitals will not be able to handle the diseases. Supplies of food, power, and water will fail because supply will not be able to meet demand. Economies will be in turmoil, and then governments will collapse. This is inevitable unless we stop putting greenhouse gasses into our air now. What we are seeing today with COVID-19 will not compare to the horror of the climate apocalypse. This is not a horror movie with coming attractions.
I am finishing the writing of a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. I am confident it has the artistic quality to draw a large audience. I believe I’ve made it persuasive. But my novel, Mourning Dove, needs your help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. Mourning Dove needs a great publishing company to market it and print a lot of copies. Publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please friend me, follow me, and connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.