I know it seems strange, but it is fundamentally true — while it is said that no man is an island as we are all interconnected in the web of life, no island nation is alone either. The impacts on a small island state are impacts felt on every nation, every state. To be very specific, ignoring all of the ethical, moral, and cultural losses that the COMPLETE disappearance of an entire nation poses to the world, to each one of us, the prospect of millions of climate refugees from small island states, coastal nations, and coastal areas within a given country, poses an enormous threat to global stability and to world peace.
I look at all of the refugees around the world – displaced from their homes because of political, economic, religious or even development reasons – and it terrifies me to imagine the millions more displaced in the future, not only because of complete disappearance of islands but also because of transformation of ecological systems that will make it impossible to farm in the floodplains of the Ganges as it becomes a seasonal river when the Himalayan glaciers disappear.
Here in Delhi, where many seem to think that climate change will not impact their lives, I beg us to look at what India will look like when home to millions of Bangaldeshis displaced by the estimated half meter of sea level rise by the end of the century. This is a change that could occur in our lifetimes! Should your heart be hardened enough not to break at the prospect of millions being forced to leave their homes, their lives, their livelihoods, their stories, their culture and their heritage — think of yourself. Think of how many you would or could take into your home, your workplace, your urban network. Think of your nation and your nations resources. Equitably, these climate refugees would be sent to where the responsibility lies – to the United States and to the EU, where governments would be mandated to give them jobs, houses, and livelihoods, though never able to replace their lives or their cultures. But the world is not just, and the refugees from around Southeast Asia will be here.
We are all interconnected, and it is for this reason that we MUST stand together with the small island states and the coastal nations in their petition to the United Nations Security Council to address climate change as an urgent threat to international peace and security. Previous plans calling on the United Nations to address climate change as a part of the UN’s fundamental right to preserve nations’ existence have not been successful, and polluting nations are fighting against UN action and thus any agreement that the UN Security Council would mandate immediate action for the UN and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
No man is an island, and no island nation is either. Join together and sign the Avaaz petition now. It will be presented by the islands’ ambassadors at the UN next week. The more signatures we raise, the more urgently this call will ring out to protect our common future – the future not only of these nations but of the world.