Christian witness
April 13, 2021
Fostering happiness
April 13, 2021

Climate migration – time to act!

By Darrion M Narine, Programme Coordinator, CCSJ,

Imagine you lived in a country for 50 years of your life and then it disappears under rising sea levels. This is the reality for many people living in the Pacific region and across the globe.

It is no longer a problem of tomorrow, but rather it is becoming part of our everyday reality. One of the major results of this is the  climate migration crisis. In his preface to Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People (POCDP), Pope Francis says the new booklet “urges us to see the tragedy of prolonged uprootedness that causes our brothers and sisters to cry out, year after year… it invites us to become aware of the indifference of societies and governments to this tragedy. It asks us to see, and to care.”

The climate crisis has been unfolding since the Industrial Revolution, and one of the failures of humanity has been our lack of preparation. What is even more unjust is the fact that those who contributed the least towards global warming and climate change, are the ones who are experiencing the brunt of its impact.

The Earth’s average temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, causing “profound alterations to human and natural systems, including increases in droughts, floods, and some other types of extreme weather; sea-level rise; and biodiversity loss” (POCDP, 2021).

These “alterations to human and natural systems” have also caused cultural changes throughout societies across the globe. Many individuals have left their hometowns and have been forced to leave behind their cultural practices and ideologies.

The loss of culture is worrisome because it impacts one’s sense of identity. This can have a ripple effect with regards to mental health and building the common good.

It is also important that those who invite and welcome climate displaced people to their countries do not engage in the practice of forced cultural erasure. Cultural preservation is of the utmost importance since our traditions help us to learn from the past and build the future.

Developing a brighter future requires us to learn from climate displaced people. They often have a deeper appreciation for the earth since their homes would have been lost to natural disasters due to climate change. There are also indigenous communities who can teach us to connect with nature.

“There is a growing sense of the need for a renewed and sound relationship between humanity and creation, and the conviction that only an authentic and integral vision of humanity will permit us to take better care of our planet for the benefit of present and future generations” (POCDP).


What should our call-to-action entail?

As Pope Francis suggests, we must commence an immediate education and training campaign around ecology, climate change and climate migration. We must develop the public’s awareness of the causes and effects of climate change and motivate countries that are the worst offenders to take appropriate action to combat it and promote sustainable development.

The Pope also states that we must hold our political leaders accountable. We must urge them to create policies that protect and help to mitigate the looming impact of climate change. We must ensure that climate displaced people are met with policies and regulations that help them to easily integrate into their new societies and countries.

Additionally, we must engage in innovation. The world is depending on us to find innovative ways to save our planet and assist climate displaced people. Young persons must lead the advocacy of change since we are the ones who will feel the effects of climate change the most.

Lastly, Pope Francis encourages us to begin preparing for climate displacement. Whether it be for the victims or those who assist the people affected, we must overcome this hurdle by maintaining our faith and love of God.

Countries that are most at risk must begin preparing emergency plans to respond to the possibility of climate displacement. Moreover, countries that have significant resources should help those that will be affected and prepare to receive climate displaced people. We cannot ignore the reality and we must be prepared.

I encourage the people of the Caribbean to do more to fight climate change and to lead the movement. We cannot take God’s creation for granted. The future of our world depends on what we do today.

You don’t have to hug a tree (unless that’s your thing), but you can at least plant one. May the love of God guide you as we continue to battle the social ills of the world. Let’s save our planet!