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Why the Migrant Caravan Story Is a Climate Change Story


Why the Migrant Caravan Story Is a Climate Change Story

Todd Miller

Less than a mile south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Sasabe, Mexico, a Guatemalan man named Giovanni (whose first name is used to protect his undocumented status) propped up his feet while an EMT applied antibiotic ointment to his feet in the shade of a cottonwood. Giovanni left his home country because of a catastrophic drought and was attempting to unite with his brothers who were already in Dallas. After trying to cross the border into the Arizona desert, his feet were ravaged: discolored, covered in gashes and tender red blisters. One toenail had been ripped off.


“Central America is ground zero for climate change in the Americas.”

That isn’t well known and is something to be concerned about, especially with fascism on the rise in the US. The caravan could be just the beginning of how Trump uses this situation to gain support.


Climate change is definitely causing migrations, but this article and most others leave out bigger problems involved in the recent Central American crisis.
One huge problem is that abortion and sometimes even contraceptives are illegal in those countries. Women are often the victims of rape and incest, and forced to birth children against their will and are otherwise gestation slaves. The Catholic Church has a lot to do with this.
When people have children when they already live in an impoverished dangerous place, it makes things much worse.
If people are truly compassionate and want to defeat the root cause of migration and poverty, they’d push for free, safe, legal, easy access to abortions, contraceptives and vasectomies worldwide.


I had the epiphany at 6:07 am this morning. I was pondering WHY so many folks are streaming into the US. We know there is war, crime, and economic instability. Then it dawned on me that all three of those things are exacerbated by climate instability. And then I found the excellent Todd Miller article. Of course that’s a factor. And this is the future. There will be all kinds of migrations of people within the borders of the US as we all try to find a decent habitat to live in. I know that when people are displaced from horrific hurricanes, border states absorb costs. What happens when families have to resettle permanently? The government isn’t planning for the future welfare of the people. They plan for war, power, and profit. (Govt is synonymous with power wherever it emanates from). I am not aware of any planning for any native populations whose homes and livelihood are being lost to climate warming. The irony is that these folks migrating to the US looking for a better life could very well end up coaxing water out of the desert…


If by people you mean those in the global north, especially the USA since we are discussing the global south from this “American” continent, then we need to start paying attention as to just the enormous level of consumption by the US and the global north which is a huge driver of ecological collapse. Compassion will entail much more than what you describe and consider that it is often the way the North blames the South for this crisis when in fact it is the US interference in Latin America along with their “consumer society” that needs to shoulder the largest portion of the crisis.


There are clearly other things involved in a caravan that assembles fairly suddenly. This is clearly to be differentiated from a relatively steady stream of persons.

There has been a coup in Honduras in recent years and considerable violence following, and the area has been the persistent playground of US “intelligence,” as well as its partners among the narcotraficantes.

None of that makes climate issues less grave or a less pressing factor. It just means that there is a suspiciously large body of information about this that does not appear to be registering somehow.

As to the difficulties of climate, corn and beans and rice and many crops can be grown in current climatic conditions in Central America, though it is likely that in many cases the shifts of climate require changes of practice. The worst of problems come because with extra problems, the population cannot support its macroparasites: the plantation-owning and mostly foreign corporate entities that poison the land and denude it.

In non-desert tropical areas, soils are typically very thin because most fertility is carried in the life above the soil. The heat and moisture make biological chemistry happen fast. When people arrive from temperate climes and "clear the forest, " that means that they remove the fertility from the area just before they try to farm it. They typically then pour NPK chemical fertilizer onto it, along with fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, and so forth.

This destroys land quite quickly even in temperate climates. In the tropics, the destruction is almost immediate. It is in large part because corporate farming has extensively denuded Central America that it is so brittle in the face of drought.

Responding to this problem means taking the land back from the large companies. People imagine that because companies are “rich and powerful,” they could solve the problem. But they are not necessarily rich in understanding, and their social structure and usually their debt structure are poorly adapted to farming, where they destroy land by trying to adapt its rhythms and production to the arbitrary schedules of banks and payments.

Several classes of obstacle exist at once. Land needs to be returned to cultivation tailored to local subsistence, and the rich do not release their holdings voluntarily. But it also needs to be returned not to the plow, but to a sort of managed forest ecology adapted to production for humans. In many cases, recent generations have grown up with coffee plantations and the like, and have little experience even of recent traditions in farming for their own needs and well being.

It appears that there will be more and larger caravans and considerable tragedy before changes become basic and some norm might just possibly be reached–after the interruption of recent centuries of frenetic and malformed activity.

But better advised people will adapt better and sooner. Methods of production that enrich the land exist. We need to spread the knowledge between us.