Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Would You Do If You Were In Their Place?

Yesterday, we asked if there might not be Massive Population Migration Coming.

We mentioned that the ultimate source of the Amazon River -- a river which has a water flow greater than that of the 8 next-largest rivers' waterflows combined -- is in the Andean glaciers of Peru... and that those glaciers are expected to be gone, leaving the headwaters of the Amazon bone-dry, by somewhere in the time-frame of 2025 to 2050.

We stopped to point out that some of the US Military's finest minds have co-authored a report called National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.

While the report doesn't exactly come right out and say it as much, all of the support for the following statement is there:

By mid-century, probably no less than 100,000,000 people will be in flight from South America, which will have inevitably become the greatest ecological catastrophe since the origin of modern mankind.

We here in the USA have already been through a slight foretaste of this catastrophe, though few people now living remember this. Yet where memory may not serve, we can provide films...

Of the Dust Bowl.

By 2050, probably most of South America from Uraguay to Venezuela will be under conditions approximating, but probably worse than, conditions in the US during the Dust Bowl.

It won't be much better here.

Even in places like Colombia, there will be massive problems by that time, probably even by 2025. You might want to read the CNA "think thank" report, Impacts of Climate Change on Colombia's National and Regional Security.

Oddly enough, we note in passing, one of the first side-effects of Massive Andean Glacial Melt-Off will be the destruction of all habitats suitable for growing the Coca plant.

What billions of dollars of failed US "drug war" policies could not do, unstoppable climate change will surely cause: the extinction of all sources of, and trading in, Cocaine.

Now how will the insurgencies and drug-lords finance their operations?

Perhaps they'll turn to supplying the growing population of young American suburban Heroin addicts.

We noted that as bad as conditions might be in South America -- and probably Central America and Mexico as well -- conditions here won't be much better.

Even without the massive flood of refugees you would expect to result from the Desertification of the Amazon Basin, US population is on track to number one-half-billions of persons by 2050.

Adding in another hundred-million people won't be something easy to adapt to... especially as the Colorado Rockies Snowpack which provides water for most of the people along the Colorado River basin will also be exhausted by 2050.

Furthermore, the underground ocean of fresh water that provides almost all water for irrigation across the entire Midwest between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, the Ogallala Aquifer is being both polluted and depleted at a truly alarming rate.
The Ogallala Aquifer, whose total water storage is about equal to that of Lake Huron in the Midwest, is the single most important source of water in the High Plains region, providing nearly all the water for residential, industrial, and agricultural use. Because of widespread irrigation, farming accounts for 94 percent of the groundwater use. Irrigated agriculture forms the base of the regional economy. It supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the United States. Crops provide grains and hay for confined feeding of cattle and hogs and for dairies. The cattle feedlots support a large meatpacking industry. Without irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer, there would be a much smaller regional population and far less economic activity.

Because of the Ogallala, the High Plains is the leading irrigation area in the Western Hemisphere. Overall, 5.5 million hectares (nearly 13.6 million acres) are irrigated in the Ogallala region. The leading state irrigating from the Ogallala is Nebraska (46%), followed by Texas (30%) and Kansas (14%).

The Ogallala Aquifer is being both depleted and polluted. Irrigation withdraws much groundwater, yet little of it is replaced by recharge. Since large-scale irrigation began in the 1940s, water levels have declined more than 30 meters (100 feet) in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of groundwater mining , or overdraft, lessened, but still averaged approximately 82 centimeters (2.7 feet) per year.

By 2050 at the latest, widespread ecological devastation in South America, on the Indian Subcontinent, throughout Africa, will have resulted in massive population migrations, significant and sustained instability and conflicts up to and including systematic destruction of population centers, or the mere abandonment of such population centers due to uninhabitability resulting from unavailability of water for either sanitation or consumption.

There is nothing at all that can prevent this.

If every last car was destroyed, if every last factory was shut down, if every last tractor stopped working the fields, none of this would have any measurable effect at all within the timeframe from the modern day to about Year 2100.

It goes without saying that a lot of people will perish.

Even if the USA were able to seal the borders and eliminate all immigration (legal or otherwise), we will still see the loss of the Colorado Rockies Snowpack and the abandonment of most of the southwestern US from the Sangre de Christo Mountains to California's Central Valley, and along the Coast from Baja California to nearly San Francisco California.

Southern and Central California together comprise approximately one-tenth of all persons living in the US, and constitute the 11th-largest economy on the planet. California's southern ports are both major military assets and some of the largest trans-shipment facilities on the planet.

It may take many years of the wealth of that 11th-largest economy of the planet merely to relocate all of the people who will be forced to move due to the inavailability of water in the region by 2050. The economic disruptions merely from relocating central offices and headquarters of businesses may cause the present Great Recession to look like a summer vacation in paradise in comparison.

Imagine yourself to be a very well-educated career military officer in the intelligence services of some Andean nation.

If you are a dedicated patriot as well as a career officer, your primary concern is always for the defense and welfare of your compatriots.

Using the example of Bolivia, with a present population nearing 10-millions of people -- less than the number presently living in just New York City USA -- when the last of the Andean glaciers melt by no later than 2020, this dedicated patriot and career military officer in the intelligence system will have had to find or make a way to relocate no less than about 7-millions of compatriots to some other country.

In Peru, on a comparable time-frame, such an officer will have to relocate some 20-millions of people out of Peru by 2040... and they won't be able to go to Bolivia, because they have no water in Bolivia; their glaciers melted first. Indeed, Peru may have to move more than 20-millions. The 7 millions of Bolivian refugees may have migrated to and settled in Peru.

Where else would they go? Not to the east. It makes no sense to migrate down-river when the reason for the migration is that the river has gone dry.

In Brazil, at least in the northern parts where the Amazon is the life-blood of the continent, massive climate change will not create a situation conducive to accepting mass migrations of refugees.

Brazil has a population of about 200-millions, with almost 9 out of 10 Brazilians living in cities.

The nearly 12-millions in São Paulo will be some of the last affected. South America's largest city receives water from sources other than Andean glaciers, with significant rainfall year round. Yet the southeastern region of Brazil is already the home of one of the world's largest megalopoli, stretching from Rio de Janeiro south to São Paulo. It is already one of the most densely-populated and industrialized regions of the continent. It may be difficult for this region to absorb 20-million refugee Peruvians and 6-million refugee Bolivians, let alone 60-millions of Brazilians to be displaced by the Desertification of the Amazon consequent to Total Andean Glacial Melt-Off.

So, as the well-educated and dedicated patriot career intelligence officer of "a country to be deeply affected", and knowing that you have no more than 5 to 10 years to relocate millions of compatriots, how do you proceed?

First, you need to pick a destination where they will go... someplace that isn't in South America.

Because everyone else there will be thinking the same thing: how to relocate at least half of their national populations to someplace that isn't in South America.

More to come?