As we can see, such rapid climate change is not only hard on species of animals adapting to new ecosystems, but it is also hard on our human sisters and brothers - especially those who live near
rising seas or expanding deserts. The UN Panel on Climate Change says that anywhere between 50 and 200 million people could be displaced from their homes and work environments. Those
who have already experienced flooding include our own Mississippi River system - but millions of Pakistanis who were hit not only with flooding, but a great earthquake last decade.
Bolivia has seen the melting of glaciers and snow pack cripple their fresh water system. Thousands of Americans haven't been able to return to their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane
Katrina, and the same is true to a lesser extent in the north east after Hurricane Sandy - leading to gentrification in these areas. FEMA provided $1.4 billion to 182,000 survivors of Sandy
We in California are in our third year of significant drought where whole towns have discussed closing down due to lack of water. As fresh water becomes more scarce in the Colorado River and the Sierras, there is a recognition that our produce and farming sector could be significantly distressed, which could increase food prices nationwide. We know that the Gobi desert is growing exponentially in China and the Sahara desert continues to force people to move to more urban areas with less and less resources.
If we don't make significant changes – as a whole human race – a significant number of us are going to be internally displaced within our own countries, or externally displaced people looking for a livable place with the resources for life.
The International Red Cross estimates that there are more environmental refugees today than political refugees fleeing from wars and other conflicts (yes, even with the civil war in Syria sending many to surrounding countries). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 36 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2009, the last year such a report was taken. We also know that some countries are starting to build fences and walls to impede the movement of those seeking a better life elsewhere. Israel is building a fence on its southern border after 10,000s of ecological refugees have moved north from Eritrea and Ethiopia. Boats overloaded with people arrive in Italy and Southern Europe daily from Northern Africa. And India is building a fence on their border with Bangladesh, recognizing that as may as 25 million Bangladeshis could be displaced with the rising sea.
If we don't act now, as a church and a society, are we prepared to take care of the massive disaster response that we will be called upon to serve? As a member of my Presbytery said, we need to do much more than just divest from these companies. We should be putting solar panels and charging stations at each of our congregations if we are going to be able to address this in any meaningful way.