Immigration and Climate Change

Published by DonDavidson on

People in this country and in Europe are very concerned about illegal immigration, and rightly so. What we don’t often hear about is that illegal immigration is closely connected with climate change—and that both are likely to get far worse in the future. But let’s come back to that in a moment.

In the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the authors recount a conversation Jesus had with some of His disciples about what would happen before His ultimate return “on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”[1] Jesus talks about a time of suffering worse than any the world has ever known[2]—tribulation so great that “unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved.”[3] However, Jesus also talks about what comes before that great tribulation—what He calls “birth pangs.”[4] In Matthew and Mark, these birth pangs include three elements: wars, famine, and earthquakes.[5] Luke adds a fourth: disease.[6]

War, famine, and disease are exactly what climate scientists predict are coming our way if we don’t get a handle on climate change—in fact, those things are already happening, and it’s only getting worse. (For more on this topic, please read Chapter 11 of my book, Beyond Blind Faith, entitled “Apocalypse Soon.” You can read it in its entirety for free here.)

But what about earthquakes? The literal New Testament Greek, seismos, means a “commotion.”[7] This word usually refers to an earthquake. However, in the context of Biblical prophecy the term can also refer to a political commotion or insurrection. Thus, we have the image of not only wars between nations, but of violent upheavals within nations, as people struggle to survive amidst growing hardship.

According to a recent article in Time Magazine,[8] a major cause of illegal immigration to Europe and the United States from countries to the south is climate change.

Droughts in East Africa caused by climate change are creating famines that kill one person every 36 seconds. Floods in Bangladesh regularly swamp 25% of the country. Droughts and war in Syria have driven over a million people to flee to Europe. And in our own hemisphere, droughts and violence in Central America are pushing people northward in unprecedented numbers.

According to the article in Time, last year’s U.S. National Intelligence Estimate identified 15 climate-related threats to U.S. interests that originate abroad, including 7 that “stem directly from countries in the Global South lacking the resources, capacity, and support to manage the realities of climate change.” Those threats include illegal immigration from Central America and the Caribbean that will eventually become a flood as people in those countries seek merely to survive.

This is another reason I believe we may be approaching fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about “birth pangs.” And we know what follows after that.

[1]. Matthew 24:30; see also Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:27.

[2]. Matthew 24:9-21; see also Mark 13:95-6, 13:9-19, and 13:21-22

[3]. Matthew 24:22; see also Mark 13:20.

[4]. Matthew 24:8; see also Mark 13:8.

[5]. Matthew 24:6-7 and Mark 13:7-8

[6]. Luke 21:10-11

[7]. Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.

[8]. “The Selfish Case for Climate Justice,” by Justin Worland, Time Magazine (Nov. 7 / Nov. 14, 2022).


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