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.