Displaced by Acts of Nature

Climate Refugees, a documentary directed by Michael Nash, was screened at Bush Auditorium on Sunday, Sept. 26, the last day of the Global Peace Film Festival. This is the festival’s fifth year in partnership with Rollins College. One of the last films shown during this year’s festival, Climate Refugees, was shown to a packed theatre. The documentary has been nominated for an Oscar.

The film began with the awe-inspiring question: how long is man going to survive on this beautiful planet? It went on to describe the new phenomenon known as “climate refugees.” When the planet experienced natural disasters and climate change in the past, the world’s population was much smaller, and nation-states with preset borders did not exist. The issue is no longer about whether human beings caused global warming and climate change, but about what to do with all of the people who are losing their homes and their livelihoods to such disasters.

A climate refugee is a person displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters, such as droughts, rising sea levels, hurricanes, cyclones, fires and tornadoes. The United States had a small glimpse of such natural disasters with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Across the world, people have faced these kinds of issues every day. For instance, 85 percent of the people of Indonesia live on the coast. If the sea levels continue to rise, 300 million people will be displaced. The same is happening (or about to happen) in Bangladesh, as well as countless island countries that are disappearing off of the map. For the first time, the Pentagon has characterized climate change and potential climate war as national security risks. Food and water shortages will soon affect the entire world if nothing is done.

The film went on to describe the horrific damage done to our planet and how little time we have left to change anything. In August 2008, the prediction was made that the world had less than 100 months until the climate change was irreversible. The fight is no longer about saving the planet but about saving civilization.

The United Nations states that currently there are more than 25 million climate refugees. Experts have projected that number to be 50 million by 2011. Climate Refugees included a memorable quote from former Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “An era of procrastination… is coming to its close; in its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

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