North Americans and Europeans have created entire countries full of climate refugees and entire countries full of refugees from brutal colonial violence in South and Central America and the Middle East. We maintain the colonization and suppression of vast underclasses of Black Americans and First Nations people (and also often “immigrants,” by which we mean brown people). The only sound response, the only ethical response, is to open borders to those whose suffering we have, ourselves, created. And to engage in reconciliation and reparations to the internally colonized, including large transfers of land and power. The pressure and the brutality will not stop at our borders as climate crisis and late capitalism make it harder to sustain a middle class, and the first to suffer are always those who are already vulnerable. It would be a mistake to think it will end there. It’s not so complicated. This is not charity. This is our last best chance of us saving ourselves, or really anything about our societies worth saving.
Arguments about viability and limited resources are just code for “me first” in a moment of diminishing resources.
We are a lot like our leaders, in the end, I think: hoping to hang on to our own wealth and our own comfort, whatever we have of it, even if it is just routine and stability, jobs and homes and grocery stores and plastic bags for as long as we possibly can. I don’t blame us; the alternative is unpredictable and terrifying. I say we because it’s absolutely me, too. I can’t figure out just how to live a life of future sustainability in the present, or how to effect change in a system that operates at levels of money and power to which I have no access. I don’t even know how to set expectations and give encouragement to my children given the uncertainty that lies ahead. But I do know that we will all do terrible things, and fail to do the right things, so long as we remain most concerned about maintaining what we have.