A New Nero: Trump and the Paris Agreement

A New Nero: Trump and the Paris Agreement

May 31, 2017 · 3 min read

During the great fire of Rome, it wasn’t the rich who suffered. Within the walls of their stone palaces and ceramic villas, the ruling class was safe from the unrelenting flames. The blaze left two thirds of the city in ashes, dozens of ancient public monuments destroyed, and tens of thousands injured, homeless, or dead. All the while, Emperor Nero sat in his palace, fiddling away.

On the ashes of Republican Rome, he built a palace whose opulence and size exceeded most any before him. A hellish phoenix, brought back to life through a ritual of misery and subjugation.

When apocalypse comes, it rarely affects the rich. Those with money and power find walls to hide behind, and enlist armies to patrol them. It’s the rest of us who suffer. Not only the poor and marginalized, but all those beyond the palace walls. Alongside slum and shanty, Nero burned apartment and market stall.

If the media is correct, President Trump will pull out of the Paris Climate agreement sometime this week. Facing two degrees of global warming (mind you, the last ice age was just two degrees colder than the pre-industrial average), and a world power which is utterly unwilling to curb it, Rome is burning, and Trump is fiddling away.

13 of the 15 largest cities on earth are close enough to the coast that they will be at least partially flooded in the next 50 years. Should the earth warm by four degrees, 760 million people will be left homeless. Even if we managed to prevent a rise above two degrees, 13 million Americans will be forced from their homes by a rising sea.

Over the summers of 2012 and 2013, my home town was ravaged by wildfires. More than 800 homes were destroyed, and thousands of Coloradans were displaced. Many families who had opened their homes to those fleeing the blaze in 2012 found themselves searching for refuge one year later. As the fires burned, all were equals. Nature doesn’t discriminate between lawyers and plumbers. But society does. When the smoke cleared, the rich rebuilt, while the rest struggled to move forward.

Unless drastic change is accomplished, climate disasters will become only more common. More homes will burn, more cities will flood, more people will die. But the rich will remain untouched. In their billion dollar bunkers, they will survive, while the rest of us perish. They will fiddle, Rome will fall.

If we truly wish to stop climate change, and to prevent utter catastrophe, we cannot rely on the ultra wealthy to save us. Trump knows he has little to fear from a devastated planet. I imagine that he intends to build a palace of his own on the ashes of this world. We must stop him. All people who have no stone palace, nor concrete bunker, all those who practice empathy and compassion, all who believe in liberty and justice for all, must join together. We have no choice but to rise against the Nero of our time, and beat back the flames of subjugation.

In order to save the world, we must take our fate into our own hands. We must fight for our right to exist.

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The World We’ll Leave Behind

The World We’ll Leave Behind

By Matthew Barad, Sep 23, 2017

Pueblo ruins in Southern Colorado

The Ancestral Pueblo of the American Southwest are among the longest lived cultures known to exist. Dating back more than 3,000 years, this is a people who built cities in cliffs, farmed the deserts, and paved roads upon wastelands. Their world was ruled by matriarchs, and their peoples rooted in an ancient faith. Walking their ruins and hearing their stories awakens a somber reverence in me, a reverence for a rich culture and heritage of which precious little remains.

But it is not their towering halls nor technological innovations which have appeared in our western histories. Rather, this ancient people is remembered as savage, even inhumane. Among the hundreds of ruins which cover the American southwest, some have been found littered with gnawed bones and scraps of digested, human flesh. It is for their alleged cannibalism, still a subject of great debate, that the Ancestral Pueblo are known. Perhaps it is for this reason that they are more commonly called the Anasazi — the Navajo word for “ancient enemy.” In spite of their miraculous inventions and beautiful cityscapes, history judged them only by the bones of their past, and remembers them only for their flaws.

Enemies of the Future

As I walk the streets of Boston, or the mountains of Colorado Springs, I often wonder how future archeologists will paint our civilization. They may unearth the Washington Monument or uncover what remains of the archives, but I doubt these ruins will overshadow the mass graves of Syria, nor the desolation of the east.

Rather, they will build exhibits describing a hellscape — a world of broken promises; a world of broken men.

The bones of our people will tell this same story. Those who sort the refuse of our future will find the corpses of the obese alongside those of the malnourished. They will discover these remains belong to the same period, to the same world, and wonder what kind of civilization could permit such gross inequality. And even with the advantage of hindsight, I doubt they will know the true horrors of a nation which leaves hundreds of tons of food to rot, while millions of her children starve.

A new type of rock, formed from plastic, is appearing across the globe.

When they dig into our earth they will find seas of plastic and islands of styrofoam. They will excavate rocks made of petroleum and fossils filled with beads. They will find pockets of deadly radiation and pools of unlivable muck. They will discover rivers run dry and wells run sick. When faced with such cataclysm, how could they not see us with either pity or disgust? While the optimists among them may think us unfortunate sojourners in a filthy, polluted world, the pessimists will surely imagine a culture of greedy, self obsessed, and ultimately suicidal primates, who discarded their futures and condemned their children.

Now, it would be unfair to say that there is no beauty in our world, or in our species. Humanity has grown far from her roots and built a civilization beyond her brutish origin. However, those who come after will waste no time considering our beauty when faced with our most intimate failures.

The Statue of Liberty is meaningless when unearthed in a world of chains. No remnant of our iphones will overshadow the sickly corpses of the children enslaved to build them. And were any books to survive, Atlas Shrugged and Mein Kampf will surely be held above Gatsby or Smith as the manifestos of our kind.

For all our progress, I fear the future will treat us as an anasazi. A people so immoral, so unethical, so detestable that they slaughtered so many and fed so few. They won’t judge us for our achievements, nor for our intentions. They will judge us as we should be judged: for the world we leave behind.

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The Fight We Can’t Afford To Lose

The Fight We Can’t Afford To Lose

By Matthew Barad, Oct 10, 2017

Man watches a motel burn in Wine County, California.

Ten Californians burned alive this week. Their citizenship did nothing to prevent their deaths. Between desperate gasps, as they choked on ash, I wonder if they realized the injustice of their damnation. Without regard to the good they had done, nor the lives they had lead, they were doomed to a world of brimstone — doomed to hell on earth.

Climate change is too often discussed in terms of ice caps and atmospheres. The science, while convincing, will never inspire the radical action needed to save the earth. To the ten who died, climate change was more than carbon dioxide or dying reefs. It was a man made diety, whose vengeance was wrought in their painful and premature deaths.

And their fate should scare us all.

In my home state of Colorado, wells have run dry just as snowfall has begun to decrease. Our forests are dying of drought and infestation, and their remains will fuel the fires of apocalypse. I can only imagine the horror, the suffering, of those who live to see aquifers empty and mountains burn.

How many of my friends and neighbors, of my teachers and peers, of our brothers and sisters, of those we have hated and loved — how many will watch the world burn?

Climate change is climate disaster. It’s not a question of decades, nor parts per million, but of lives ruined, lives ended, every day.

It is not only the defining issue of our time, but of our species. If we fail, we won’t have to worry about the judgement of our children, because we will not live to face it. If we fail, we will choke on the ashes of our progress. If we fail, our legacy will be chaos.

Damnation is upon us, and we have demons to fight.

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Donald Trump and Climate Fascism

Donald Trump and Climate Fascism

Trump is using climate change as a weapon of genocide.

By Matthew Barad, Jan 10, 2018

Puerto Rican shanty towns were no match for Hurricane Maria

Earlier this week, when President Trump moved to open nearly all offshore waters to drilling, my immediate reaction was disgust at his idiocy. I could not see any logic behind further propping up fossil fuels amidst global climate disaster, a market which is rapidly shifting to renewables, and an international community which is unanimous in their condemnation.

Given time to reflect on this decision, however, I have concluded that the coming harm of Trump’s climate policies are not the product of ignorance, but intentionality.

At best, Donald Trump is a bigot. At worst, he is a fascist. And in a world where natural disasters disproportionately harm the poor and nonwhite, hastening climate change is more than an existential threat, it is a targeted weapon of genocide.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece on Hurricane Harvey, which highlighted the plight of the poor in natural disasters. In the time since, wildfires, typhoons, and more hurricanes have struck, once again leaving the struggling in shambles. These disasters are well understood to be exacerbated by climate change. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the increase in disasters is targeting the poor and vulnerable more than anyone else. While the homes of millionaires burn just the same, they alone have the money for new mansions and luxury bunkers.

In the past, I have compared Trump to Nero. His opulence and ignorance seemed reflective of Rome’s fall, and the insanity of his policies sounded to me like the strums of that infamous fiddle. Now, however, I hear a much more sinister tune.

Trump’s allies, from Richard Spencer to now-ousted Steve Bannon have an unmistakable Nazi streak. Spencer openly calls for a white ethno-state, and unapologetically blames ethnic diversity for the problems facing our world. Even Trump’s “respectable” Republican allies regularly blame the poor for their poverty, and have even refused to provide blameless children with healthcare and food. This hatred for the poor and the diverse manifests itself in revocation of TPS for immigrants fleeing natural disasters, neglect of American citizens without homes, hope, or power, and the passage of legislation which systematically steals from the poor for the sake of the rich.

Just as the Northeast is facing record low temperatures, homelessness has begun to rise for the first time in a decade. Just as floods and fires are destroying entire communities, poor Americans have less savings than ever to help rebuild. Just as swaths of the globe are becoming unlivable, America’s borders are becoming tighter. Trump, and those around him, are not only making climate change deadlier, they are ensuring that the “undesirables” are more vulnerable than ever before.

Japanese Internment, WW2

The trouble for 21st-century fascists is that the world is too keenly aware of the horrors they beget. In spite of their best efforts, we remember the unspeakable tragedies in Germany, Turkey, Rwanda, Cambodia, and many, many others. Americans know that Japanese citizens were interned. They recall the Trail of Tears — and many fled the Holocaust themselves. So the Nazis of today must seek alternative methods of extermination — and in climate change, they have found their final solution.

In the world of climate catastrophe, there is no need for death camps, nor internment. Simply build your walls, dig your wells, and burn, baby, burn. So long as the poor and nonwhite remain too vulnerable to protect themselves from tornadoes, or rebuild after wildfires; so long as we keep polluting, climate change will act as fascism’s invisible hand.

While the wealthy remain safe in their bunkers, while the nationalists hide behind their borders, the rest of humanity will be left to starve, wither, drown, and burn. This is the world of Donald Trump. This is the future of Climate Fascism.

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Alarmism isn’t alarmist anymore.

Alarmism isn’t alarmist anymore.

By Matthew Barad, June 26, 2018

On August 12th, the anniversary of the fascist attack in Charlottesville which killed Heather Heyer, Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer will hold another fascist rally in front of the White House. This year, eight fascists are openly running for office in the United States. All of them are running as Republicans. Last week, America finally awakened to the horror of American police separating families and putting children in cages. Last week, America discovered these plans were laid more than a year ago. This morning, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel ban on Muslim nations.

Facing such a gruesome reality, comparisons to Nazism have been rampant. In response, the same Republicans who once distanced themselves from Trump are distancing themselves from outspoken white supremacists. But if 2016 taught us anything, all it will take is the election of one such fascist, and conservatives will line up to offer their allegiance.

For the last year, I have warned about the rise of American fascism. Organizations like Turning Point USA speak openly about defending “white Christian America,” and even publish lists of suspected leftists online. My name has been published in one such list, and I have endured death threats as a result. Charlie Kirk’s tweets can be cataloged (as they are above) to check off the Holocaust Museum’s entire list of “warning signs of fascism.” And yet, in spite of it all, American media and the American people continue to treat these organizations as legitimate, and continue to defend their right to organize. Even in leftist circles, equating the “Alt-Right” with fascism is still decried as unfair and inaccurate. Cautioning against “alarmism,” many wish to protect the poignancy of the term Fascist.

Political cartoonist refers to immigrant children as trash.

In April, well before the news of family separations broke, Holocaust survivor Stephen A. Jacobs told Newsweek that “Trump’s America feels like Germany before Nazis took over.” Here is a man who has endured unspeakable horrors, and who has personal experience with fascism — and yet, his warning was largely ignored. America waited until families were ripped apart to speak out. And though the outcry has been great, I worry that our fear of alarmism will once against muzzle the voices of caution. If we wait for news coverage before fighting the tide of injustice, we will not stop fascism’s rise, but simply teach America’s Nazis to hide their aims until it is too late.

Facebook user refers to immigrants as “dogs” and advocates their genocide.

In my own home town, protests against family separation were met with arrests and death threats from “patriots” online. Indeed, all across the internet today, there are unabashed proponents of fascism. Even well known communities like r/The_Donald (a subreddit for the President’s supporters) are full of calls for violence against immigrants, the left, and anyone deemed “lesser.” And while Facebook and Reddit are quick to ban leftists for condemning rapists, they continue to defend the speech rights of those actively promoting genocide.

As many have noted, fascism is not new to the United States. Shrouded in white cloth and waving a confederate flags, America’s Nazis have escaped history’s condemnation. As they carried on this morning, the Supreme Court has a tradition of protecting unambiguously racist policies. Whether black families or native tribes, the American Empire has committed crimes that can never be forgiven. So my great fear is not that America will become fascist — in many ways, it has been cycling in and out of fascism since its induction. My fear is that we will learn nothing from that past, and allow these newest waves of white nationalism to erode whatever progress we have made.

America has struggled too long under the yokes of racism, theocracy, and fascism. Instead of allowing the poor to starve and the innocent to be caged, we must break these historical bonds and build a better world. Lead by the marginalized and unhindered by the timid, we must not surrender, we must not falter, and we must not fail.

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The Rising Tides of Climate Fascism

The Rising Tides of Climate Fascism

Climate change is too often imagined as religious rapture — instant, just, and painless. Though we understand that sea levels will rise, storms will become more intense, and forest fires more common, we rarely conceive of those tragedies in human terms. Some are brave enough to describe the death toll of climate disaster — but even those who do fail to communicate who will die, and how they will perish. Climate change is not a God. None of its victims will vanish painlessly. They will die painful deaths, and they will do so along racial and economic lines.

Some, perhaps most, will be killed by fascists.

Before his murderous spree, the Christchurch fascist terrorist made exactly such a promise:

The environment is being destroyed by over population, we Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the over population and by doing so save the environment.

Any moderately informed person could describe in detail why this screed is wrong — both in terms of ethics and basic science. There is no overpopulation crisis; our world is dying because of how our economy is structured, not because of how many people rely upon it. Compared to Americans and Europeans, the average Bengali has virtually no ecological footprint. Migrants are human beings, not invaders. But none of that matters, does it?

The fascists have already decided who they will blame for climate disaster, and they have already decided how to punish them. If climate apocalypse comes, the genocides will not only be committed by hurricanes in the Atlantic, nor by fires in California. They will also be committed by armed border police in El Paso and Hungary. When billions of men, women, and children are dislocated by climate change, they will flee to the imperial core. And they will be met with concentration camps.

It is not enough to fight climate change. It’s too late to stop its destabilizing effects even by the best estimates. As leftists — as decent human beings — we must recognize that radical change to national borders will be necessary to prevent genocide.

Ecosystems are already failing. ICE is already armed. The wall is already being built. If we are to reverse course and prevent the greatest tragedy in human history, we need to understand that fascism and climate change are inextricably linked. And we need to fight like hell.

It doesn’t require any high-level analysis to know the genocidal horrors that could follow the climate crisis. Taken as an example, the 2018 IPCC report on Central and South America outlines dozens of vulnerabilities, stressors, and near certain impacts that climate change will have on the region, not least of which include sea level rise, the loss of freshwater sources, and possibly the wholesale destruction of the Amazon. To quote the report directly:

Various models are projecting a risk of reduced rainfall and higher temperatures and water stress, which may lead to an abrupt and irreversible replacement of Amazon forests by savannalike vegetation, under a high emission scenario… The possible “savannization” or “die-back” of the Amazon region would potentially have large-scale impacts on climate, biodiversity, and people in the region. The possibility of this die-back scenario occurring, however, is still an open issue and the uncertainties are still very high (Rammig et al., 2010; Shiogama et al., 2011).

It is difficult to comprehend what changes on this scale would mean. Entire ecosystems, as well as the economies which rely on them, could collapse. Regions of South America could become outright uninhabitable — without a self-regulating rainforest climate much of South America’s agriculture would be disrupted at best and decimated at worst.

And though the global North has the resources for large scale desalination, genetic modification, sea walls, and all manner of temporary tech-fixes, the chronic and intentional underdevelopment of the global South will leave those governments without the tools to combat climate catastrophe. People will suffer, flee, and perish — and because nonwhite nations are systematically impoverished, the imperial core could commit racial genocides without building a single death camp. In the world of climate catastrophe, tomorrow’s Trumps need only build walls, close borders, and allow climate change to be the executioner.

This September, a series of delegates from across the Carribean petitioned Trump to address climate change in anticipation of exactly such a crisis. The President of Chile has expressed his concerns over Trump’s climate inaction repeatedly over the last two years. Half a dozen Carribean states have committed to reaching zero emissions by 2030. Without the advantages of imperial wealth, these states have no choice but to do what they can to lessen the crisis while begging the benefactors of climate change for help.

In keeping with Trump’s xenophobic attitude towards nonwhite nations, these petitions have fallen on deaf ears. The “shithole countries” Trump and his allies hate will be among the first to suffer climate apocalypse. Whether inspired by incompetence or malice, the material consequence of Trump’s inaction is the increasing likelihood of genocide and collapse.

However, I fear climate change itself will be only partially responsible for those genocides. The scale of displacement and migration that will be caused by climate change is unprecedented. One Cornell study placed its estimate at 2 billion climate refugees by 2100. Keeping population growth in mind, climate change will displace one out of every five human beings on Earth. By the end of the century, South America, Latin America, and the Caribean will have a combined population of ~1.3 billion. Climate change could force hundreds of millions to flee their homelands in that region alone. Millions of those would end up on America’s southern border. And if they find that border closed, refugee camps will form, and suffering will follow.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya shows that the international community is unwilling or unable to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees in a time of unprecedented prosperity. By the end of this century, unhindered climate change would throw even the wealthy north into disarray. The failures in past refugee crises would be nothing more than footnotes in the prelude of this century’s disasters.

Without international support, those encamped on the border would face disease, crime, hunger, and thirst. Mexico would lack the resources (and perhaps even the desire) to aid these camps alone, leaving cartels and traffickers to provide “services.” Some would attempt to enter the United States, legally or otherwise, and some would make it in.

ICE’s behavior today, in a time of low migration and relative stability, demonstrates how quickly they would further their fascism under worse circumstances. ICE already habitually destroys humanitarian supplies on the border, already prosecutes activists for attempting to feed refugees, and already runs concentration camps. Even under Obama’s liberal government, migrants were killed and buried in mass graves. Those climate migrants who do cross the border may be forced into labor camps, death camps, or even murdered by pogroms of American racists spurred into action by fascist claims of a migrant “invasion.”

It would seem that, whether governed by the center left or the far right, the current world order is incapable of treating refugees with dignity — and that is before climate apocalypse.

This fascist agenda will not only be felt outside the West’s borders, however. The humanitarian catastrophe following Katrina, for example, shows that the United States is far more concerned with protecting some lives than others. 93% of those who died in Katrina were black. 25% were suffering from chronic disease. 12% were disabled. A Seattle Times article published in September of 2005 describes the horrors of a climate refugee camp in the wealthiest country on Earth:

The Louisiana Superdome, once a mighty testament to architecture and ingenuity, became the biggest storm shelter in New Orleans the day before Katrina’s arrival Monday. About 16,000 people eventually settled in. Within two days, it had degenerated into unspeakable horror. A few hundred were evacuated from the arena yesterday, and buses will take away the remaining people today … Baby supplies are running low; one mother said she was given two diapers and told to scrape them off when they got dirty and use them again.

At least two people, including a child, have been raped as the arena darkened at night. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for.

These were not victims of a natural disaster, but of a system which forces already marginalized people into vulnerable areas — a system which prioritizes the safety of the white, wealthy, and able-bodied.

In Houston and Puerto Rico we saw the same story retold, with the impoverished being left to suffer, all while the wealthiest country in history sat idly by. As natural disasters become more frequent and more intense, this fascistic hierarchy-of-life will only expand. Natural disasters do not discriminate. Humans do. We need to understand inaction in the face of climate change and natural disaster as fascistic. Intentionality is beside the point. When flood, fire, or famine comes, minorities perish first.

Throughout this piece, I have chosen to use the word “genocide” when describing the mass deaths that climate-exacerbated natural disasters could cause. This is not done accidentally, or for the sake of emphasis. I call these disasters genocides because genocide is the most accurate term to use. We’ve known the consequences of inaction on climate change for at least a generation. We’ve known that minority populations will be the first to die in a climate apocalypse for just as long. The climate is no more of a murderer than a gun or knife. Billionaires, fascists, and complacent politicians actively wield climate change as a weapon of genocide.

Inaction is genocidal. Incompetence is genocidal. The prioritization of private property, national borders, and American hegemony above climate action is genocidal. In the world of climate change, antifascism requires radical climate action.

Though antifascist action against actual white nationalists is and will remain critical as temperatures rise, an equally dedicated antifascist movement must seek to soften the edge of climate change and disempower those using it as a weapon. In order to prevent climate genocide, we must pursue a radical agenda to reform our economy and our conception of borders. Though both of these causes are necessary and important in their own right, only their synthesis can successfully prevent the coming tragedy.

Much ink has been spilled on the subject of our oil-driven economy. It should go without saying in leftist circles that a rapid and just transition away from such an economy is necessary to halting climate change. What is less often confronted, however, is the reality that capitalism as an infinite growth system is incapable of preventing itself from killing a finite earth.

Since 1972, Danielle H. Meadows and her various teams of researchers have been constructing computational models to predict when our economy will “overshoot” Earth’s resources. Entitled Limits to Growth this series of more than a dozen reports has continuously shown that capitalism is unsustainable, and has pleaded with those in power to change course. To date, they’ve inspired very little action.

Meadows is just one of dozens of such researchers calling to pull the emergency break on economic growth. Climate change or no climate change, our current economic model has already irreversibly damaged fish stocksforests, and estuaries. Simply put, we are already consuming more than the globe can replenish — and our rate of consumption is only accelerating.

Returning to the topic at hand, there is little doubt which populations will feel the first shortages when they inevitably arrive. Even if climate change were not a factor, the poorest nations, and the poorest people would still be crushed by ecological collapse. Today, 9 million people starve to death every year even as we produce enough food to feed 10 billion. The vast majority of those who starve are nonwhite. In a world with global food shortages, once fisheries empty and well run dry, there is little doubt that the existing vulnerability of nonwhite groups will be exacerbated to the point of genocide.

Capitalism’s need for infinite growth, in combination with its inability to fairly distribute resources and its unjust prioritization of wealthy lives, means that its abolition is necessary to prevent genocide. Only a more democratic system which fairly distributes resources will have the desire and ability to protect all peoples. If we fail to build such a system before the climate apocalypse begins, we will fail to prevent genocide.

However, the impending threat of climate genocide cannot be fought through economic transition alone. As much as capitalism is a forcing factor of climate change, the more proximate cause for many climate deaths has been, and will be, national borders. As regions of our planet become uninhabitable, the free movement of people must be upheld universally. If our current system of national border enforcement continues, the inevitable result of climate instability will be the refugee camps and fascist migrant detention we discussed earlier.

Since 2014, nearly 15,000 refugees have died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. Without legal migration routes, those fleeing the Syrian civil war were forced to pay exorbitant fees to climb aboard shanty vessels owned by human traffickers. A 2016 report by Human Rights First described the Syrian refugee crisis as a “greenhouse for human trafficking.” The article details why refugees are so vulnerable, and the fates they frequently endure:

As vulnerabilities compound, certain individuals, such as those applying for short term or seasonal work, runaway or homeless youth, and communities in crisis, experience heightened susceptibility to modern day slavery. The TIP report includes refugees among these most vulnerable groups.

Once the implications and causes of this crisis are understood, it is impossible to deny Europe’s closed-border policy as anything less than nascent fascism. In Syria, people driven from their homes by a civil war were denied safe passage to Europe on account of their nationality, thus forcing them to risk death, and even face slavery. Put simply, the maintenance of national borders is killing and enslaving people on the basis of national origin.

However, the Syrian refugee crisis was not an unavoidable tragedy — growing evidence suggests it was exacerbated, or perhaps even caused, by regional shifts in climate. A 2015 study found that climate change was a significant causal factor in the food shortages and general unrest which precipitated the civil war. Syria relied on heavy food subsidies to maintain its popularity. These subsidies were effective because they ensured both the financial stability of rural agricultural communities, and kept the costs of living in urban centers low. Climate change disrupted that system.

This strategy — of lowering cost of living to stabilize your country — is not unique to Syria. One paper published by the Miami International Law Review argues that food subsidies are a primary strategy for maintaining order and economic prosperity in the global South. Central Asia and Africa are particularly reliant on such programs because of the relative uncertainty in crop yields — subsidies guarantee that farmers will not starve after a single bad harvest. This means that the global South is not only more vulnerable to the agricultural disruption caused by climate change, but indeed, that the regions facing the worst impacts of climate change will become more reliant on subsidies over time, and therefore, even more vulnerable to climate impacts in the long term.

Taking this together, the conflict in Syria seems to be little more than a prelude of things to come. The continued maintenance of international borders guarantees that the refugees who flee tomorrow’s civil wars will find themselves drowning in the Meditarranean, starving in the Sahara, or sold into slavery by human traffickers.

Liberals use a myriad of ideological arguments to defend the existence of national borders. Whether or not these ideals are valid in principle, however, is irrelevant. Their actual, material impact is genocidal. Be they liberal defenses of national self-determination or fascist calls for national purity, all defenses of borders in the world of climate cataclysm mean defending and allowing genocide. Only the abolition of borders and the guarantee of free movement will allow refugees to flee their demise. Anything less amounts to fascism.

Returning to the chilling words of the Christchurch terrorist, the current trajectory of climate-driven migration, slavery, and genocide is the fascist’s dream. Whether or not one believes in climate change, or calls themselves an “ecofascist,” continuing to emit greenhouse gasses, and refusing to open borders, will condemn masses of nonwhite, atypical, and differently abled people to death.

We saw this foreshadowed by the aftermaths of Katrina and Syria. We see it in the current rhetoric around refugees. We know that capitalism will cause ecosystems to collapse in majority nonwhite regions. We know that our current border system already actively condemns human beings to suffering on account of their nationality. We must recognize that the issues of climate change and rising fascism are inseparably linked, and we must strive to prevent them both.

Climate fascism is coming. Billions may die. And only a radical change to our economic system and the hegemony of borders can prevent that disaster.

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Environmental Issues + Potential Policies

While it seems simple to make personal life changes to help prevent deforestation, such as adapting a vegan diet, these changes need to be completed on a much larger scale as well. Actions taken by the government help prevent companies from abusing the land we live on for profits, which is why it is important to lobby for this legislation to be passed. Laws that help protect certain forests are essential to preserve biodiversity and wildlife, especially in places such as the Amazon where so many forests are destroyed. This will also assure that we do not deplete our resources, many being nonrenewable, in the name of mass consumption and production. In addition, we can push for policies that make it necessary for these private companies to finance the planting of a new forest after a season of harvest is finished. By doing so, we are ensuring that not only are new trees planted to help reduce air pollution, but that a new environment for animals to thrive in has been created. We can also pass laws to limit how much land each company that uses timber is allowed to purchase and use for production. Finally, our government can pass legislation requiring each state to finance volunteer programs that focus on protecting our land, water, and animals, which is all affected by deforestation.

Water Contamination
Events like Flint, Michigan’s water crisis can be prevented by proper legislation and fund allocation. More so, it can be prevented by closely following the law– this scandal has resulted in officials being indicted for their neglect and the results on the town. The most important thing the local government in a situation like this can do is to secure proper funding for their community. This way, officials will not cut corners with the town budget in order to pay for more “important” things. This funding can replace the lead-contaminated pipes that continue to affect the water supply- steps should be taken to make it mandatory that they are replaced in the next decade. Many have also suggested that the government subsidizes funds to help low-income families pay for their water. It is also essential that stricter penalties be put in place for government officials who neglect the repair of their town’s infrastructure. Considering part of the problem here was that the town is generally made up of lower-class Americans, acts to help ensure equal affordable healthcare for all these citizens can be passed as well- even in the form of federal subsidies.

Urban Sprawl
Though not much can be changed to prevent humans from building and expanding, some precautions can be taken to reduce its effect on our environment. For one, city’s building plans can be pushed into a smaller, closer-together area so that residents do not drive as much; this reduces air pollution and the use of fossil fuels. As mentioned in the first section, we can also require companies to finance replanting trees to counteract the deforestation they are perpetuating. In addition, public transportation funding can supply bikes as a form of rentable transport, employing companies like Citibike. This way, we reduce our pollution and fuel emission by providing substitutes to means of transportation like buses and cabs, which damage our air and land. Local municipalities can also place more recycling cans on the streets to reduce littering, which can kill animals and damage the land, and help save energy by reducing waste.

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