Via Tobias Buckell, a reiteration of a question we’ve asked here before – if a tiny nation-state’s territories are wiped out by climate change, such as the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, what becomes of that nation-state as a political and social entity?
What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?
“We’re facing a set of issues unique in the history of the system of nation-states,” Dean Bialek, a New York-based adviser to the Republic of the Marshall Islands who is also in Cancun, told The Associated Press. “We’re confronting existential issues associated with climate impacts that are not adequately addressed in the international legal framework.”
This is probably the very thinnest thin end of the wedge, too. Sadly for the Marshallese and others like them, it won’t be until similar issues start hitting bigger nations that the legal framework will be looked at; until then, the transition from citizen to unrepresented and unprotected climate refugee will become increasingly ubiquitous, and noticed only by the majority – by us – as a steady increase of blank and desperate faces in the internment camps at the border.
We’ve made our bed, but we’re making the servants lie in it first.
7 thoughts on “The fate of the post-geographical nation-state”
Fortunately, it appears that the Marshall Islands may not actually be in danger from rising seas after all. See, for example:
You’ll forgive me Robert, I hope, for not putting a great deal of faith in an article published by the Executive Intelligence Review; their editorial stance takes a rather…. creative approach to explaining the problems besetting the world, shall we say.
For example – just one among many! – its founder Lyndon LaRouche is, I believe, on record as advancing the theory that Princess Di was murdered at the command of the royal family… which may not be quite such an obvious target for Occam’s Razor as an unprecedented and remarkably tenacious worldwide conspiracy on the part of an entire scientific discipline, but almost certainly belongs to the same family. 🙂
OK, I hadn’t noticed the LaRouche connection. Good catch. I should not have cited it, so please consider that reference withdrawn. FYI, I had found the link at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/12/027856.php, which has normally been a very reputable blog. I will send a complaint to them about this.
It’s possible that the destruction of some of these nation-states will be alleviated by the rise of virtual states on the internet, and that states like the Marshall Islands will be able to maintain some level of identity and cohesion by becoming virtual. I just hope they have better options for that than Facebook.
First, Lyndon LaRouche is one of the major nut case/sleaze/right wing jack asses/cult leaders to ever appear on the political scene in the US. He’s been around for decades.
More important, wait till large parts of Bangladesh get flooded.
“It’s possible that the destruction of some of these nation-states will be alleviated by the rise of virtual states on the internet, and that states like the Marshall Islands will be able to maintain some level of identity and cohesion by becoming virtual. I just hope they have better options for that than Facebook.”
I have lived in the Martial Islands and worked with the people there for a time and I can assure you the odds of surviving in a “virtual state” are not good for this amazing and already-struggling culture that once lived their lives, related to one another, defined themselves through journeys across the deep blue of the Pacific. The levels of irony of a grand master navigator carrying eons of deep-mind seafaring wisdom capable of finding, without instruments, tiny mote-like atolls in an area 1/3 of the Earth’s surface, to find himself living out his last days being spoonfed realtime directions to the nearest Australian Wal Mart by a GPS satellite while posting “lolz” comments on Facebook about Justin Beiber are just too heavy to handle.
Obviously I haven’t lived there long enough to remember to spell their name correctly DX
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