About five years ago I wrote a long piece for the Citizens of Everywhere project and also published it on this blog [see ‘We are citizens of the world‘ on April 5th, 2017]. One theme of the essay was the way in which scientists and engineers work as part of a global community contributing to, and exploiting, a shared knowledge and understanding of natural and manufactured phenomena; and in this process, as global citizens, we are relatively unaware and uninfluenced by the national boundaries drawn and fought over by politicians and leaders. Engineers frequently draw boundaries to define a system for analysis [see ‘Drawing boundaries‘ on December 19th, 2012] but we understand that they do not exist in reality so energy and, sometimes, matter can flow across them. Similarly, national boundaries are man-made constructs, occasionally existing in physical reality such as the Berlin Wall, but usually only on a map. Most people would like to be able move freely around the world; however, we are often restricted from crossing borders by the location of our mother when she gave birth to us. Gaia Vince in her book, Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval, has suggested that assigning nationality based on your birthplace is arbitrary and instead we should have a universal UN citizenship with a national affiliation. This might be one small step towards achieving peaceful mass migrations from uninhabitable zones created by major changes in the Earth’s climate. There could be 1.5 billion environmental migrants by 2050 according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration – that’s one in five people!
As I have argued before [see ‘Planetary Emergency‘ on February 20th, 2019], our politicians need to stop arguing about borders and starting worrying about the whole planet not just at COP27 but in everything they do. We are all in this together and no man-made border will protect us from the impact of making the planet a hostile environment for life.
Source: Anjana Ahuja, Acclimatising to crisis, FT Weekend, 27 August/28 August 2022.