chapter  8
9 Pages

Climate of Fear: Environment, Migration and Security

ByDevyani Gupta

The politics of fear increasingly governs much of thought, discourse and action nowadays. Fear of the outsider has taken centre stage, whether it be visions of seemingly unending migrants threatening order in our societies, or concerns about the pressure that they will bring to our land, leading to ‘environmental suicide’ (McDougall, 2003). This fear is regularly recycled in visually arresting headlines and sensationalized with exaggerated if not fictitious claims. Panicinducing statements are commonplace: ‘Never have we seen immigration on this scale: we just can’t cope’; ‘Migrant workers importing crime, say police’; ‘Mass migration is becoming a danger to our environment’; and ‘Cost of water shortage: civil unrest, mass migration and economic collapse’ (Rowthorn, 2007)

It is this hysteria played out in the public eye that has helped to elevate climate change on the mainstream agenda in a way that scientific evidence and academic debates on their own had so far been unable to do. After all, until fairly recently, climate change occupied the minds of many policy-makers, lobbyists, scientists and academics; but the public generally viewed it as someone else’s problem. Unlike immigrants, this was not an immediate threat. It was far away both spatially and temporally and thus could be avoided.