Climate Crisis: Are We Too Late?

By Suhasini Srinivasaragavan

The UN says that over 5 million people may become homeless following the devastating earthquake that wreaked havoc in Turkey and Syria last week killing over 30,000 people.

Did We Cause This?

Studies have for years shown the relation between global warming and increasing extreme weather events, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides. 

“When glaciers melt, they reduce the weight on Earth’s crust…(this) can reactivate faults and lift pressures on magma chambers… increase(ing) seismic activity,” says a study

The Smithsonian magazine in 2016 revealed that melting glaciers may also induce earthquakes in the middle of plates, away from the fault lines where Earthquakes usually occur. 

While the cause of the disastrous earthquake in Turkey and Syria is unknown, Rumit Walia, founder of Tears of the Earth, a New Delhi-based Climate Action NGO, points out that the frequency of Earthquakes has increased in his home town, New Delhi.

“I have felt several minor and major Earthquakes in my life, most of them in the last few years. Although they were minor, it is a cause for concern,” says Walia

What Happens Then?

People displaced from their traditional regions due to environmental disruption are referred to as climate migrants. 

The 2022 United Nations Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change reveals that most migration due to climate change occurs internally within a country. 

An average of 20 million have been annually displaced since 2008.

“Increased frequency of extreme heat events and long-term increases in average temperatures pose future risks,” says the report. The report projects that 143 million persons will be displaced by 2050.

Climate Migrants Unlikely in Ireland

The UN report highlights the relationship between economic standing and cross-border migration, meaning only those who can afford to leave their home countries will. 

While East Galway councillor Niall Murphy from the Green Party says that Ireland should expect Climate Migrants in the future. 

“The next wave of refugees will be because of climate change and we cannot say that it was not in part our fault… Ireland is not prepared,” Murphy says. 

However, an Irish Times report says that “Ireland will not be swamped by climate migrants.”

Walia, on the other hand, says that people will soon realise that extreme weather events are happening everywhere. 

He adds that “people have a misconception that Europe is not suffering…heatwaves and cold waves there are more frequent now…many in Asia are unaware that Europe is not far behind.” Walia says that once people realise this, cross-border migration will reduce unless areas in the Global South become unlivable. 

First Loss and Damage Fund Meeting Soon

“We don’t like to say that it’s hopeless, however, it’s important that there is some sense of urgency,” says Colette Currie, a student of Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh. 

The loss and damage fund was an outcome of COP27 held last year. The fund, primarily paid for by the Global North to the South, is meant to help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. 

“We can maybe delay the ticking climate clock, but we cannot stop it,” says Walia, adding, “I hope the discussions in COP 27 are put into action.” 

The first committee discussion on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage fund is scheduled between 28th February and 3rd March 2023 in the Philippines. 

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