In many countries when you look at nationalist parties you’ll see that most of them are not especially concerned with climate change or they are outright denying it. I believe that there is a very clear reason for this. It has nothing to do with the actual data and scientific facts and everything to do with ideology.
Nationalists are always advocating for solutions based on protectionism, closed borders, as well as the “us vs them” mentality. Climate change is an issue that doesn’t fit in that narrative whatsoever.
The climate doesn’t care about borders
If you look at this video of NASA that shows how Earth is a living breathing organism you can see how carbon emissions from the northern hemisphere are not constrained to the countries where they are being produced and how carbon monoxide emission from the fires raging in the Republic of Congo and the Amazon are not limited to these regions. You’ll see that as vast as our planet is, all these ecosystems are interconnected into a global biosphere. What you’ll also notice is that there are no borders on the map and if there were this would only help to illustrate the fact that they are irrelevant to these global environmental issues.
Global problems – Global solutions
The very concept of global issues is really scary to nationalists, because global problems imply global solutions. And when we talk about global solutions, we speak of globalism, which is a dirty word in these circles. We won’t talk about global trade in this article, which is what most people think about when they hear about globalism. Rather, we’ll focus on globalism as a pure environmental reality. Since we live in a global ecological system we have to adopt global solutions to the ecological challenges. We already have some examples of global solutions that have saved humanity (so far) from extinction. A good example is the Montreal treaty on the protection of the ozone layer. All countries came together and took swift action the CFC gases that were rapidly obliterating the shield of our atmosphere. If this agreement didn’t take place, we would probably all be having skin cancer by now. Another good example of vital international cooperation was the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. We still have way too many nuclear weapons, but the fact that we haven’t blown ourselves out of the face of the Earth is a really positive development that can certainly be attributed to serious international cooperation.
Everybody HAS TO cooperate
Climate change also requires the cooperation of all countries. Because even if most countries decide to take action, a few bad actors could negate all the positive accomplishments by the rest of the countries. If a major country decided to ignore the Montreal accord and keep on producing CFCs on a mass scale, all countries would suffer (there is evidence that this is actually happening , and that this is slowing the recovery of the ozone layer). If one of the nuclear powers decided to sell nuclear weapons to any country that has the money to pay them, all countries would be threatened. In the same way, if just a couple of big polluters like the US, China, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia or Russia decide to keep on polluting and destroying their their forests, the efforts of other nations will be negated and everybody’s future will be jeopardized.
Sovereignty under attack?
All these solutions sound like a threat to national sovereignty. In one case a treaty prohibits the country from producing a certain type of gas, the other treaty imposes restrictions on the trade of weapons and climate treaties would impose limitations on the types of economic developments that a country can pursue. But contrary to what nationalists like to say, these types of agreements are not a danger to sovereignty and freedom, but an expression of it.
The sovereignty of a nation or an institution gives implies that it has the power to cede a part of its competences to other institutions. Banning CFCs is not really a limitation on freedom, because there would be no concept of freedom on Earth, if the ozone layer would be destroyed. There is no freedom in a nuclear winter either.
In the same way, the notion of freedom would be severely crippled in a rapidly warming planet that undermines the foundations of organized human life. When countries come together to create binding agreements on things like over-fishing, plastic pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation etc. they give away some of their freedom, but in exchange they gain the freedom to avoid agricultural collapse, mass flooding of their major coastal cities, mass migration of hundreds of millions of people, as well as wars for the dwindling natural resources.
Call me a globalist, but I don’t believe that individual nations could ever solve climate change on their own. Cooperation between countries on environmental issues needs to become stronger and tighter, and this is fundamentally a treat to the ideals and principals of most nationalists.
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