Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Mass Migration is Biosphere Collapse

Mass migration is biosphere collapse
Refugees and economic migrants currently flowing into Europe and elsewhere globally are the direct result of over-population, ecosystem collapse, climate change, militarism and inequity. Mass migration has the potential to overrun entire societies and human civilization, and even threatens to collapse the biosphere. Migration must be controlled; and refugees and economic migrants assisted to return to productive, sustainable uses of land as close as possible to their place of origin.

“Crucially, small families, sustainable lifestyles, peace-making, and greater equity must be stressed globally… But for the grace of Gaia, anyone of us could become a migrant at any time.” – Dr. Glen Barry

First and foremost the mass exodus of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East into Europe is an ecological disaster. Entire regions have overshot the carrying capacity of their land and water; which has been exacerbated by abrupt climate change, and rising human populations with unlimited aspirations for consumption.
An estimated 60 million refugees were forced from their homes by conflict last year – 4 million alone from Syria. Nearly one billion people live on less than $1.50 a day, and many if not most would migrate in search of economic opportunity if given the chance. Today alone 12,000 migrants arrived in Munich, Germany.
It is a physical impossibility for Europe and America to house all of Africa, Middle East, and South America’s true refugees as well as hundreds of millions of poor people that want to migrate to a better life. Trying will lead to global ecological, social, and economic collapse.
For all intents and purposes Earth is fully occupied. Thus the nature of mass migration has changed since Europeans colonized the world. There no longer exist large intact ecosystems for refugees to flee to, murder the locals, and cut down natural ecosystems to produce illusory economic progress for a while before moving on repeatedly. We live in a different world that is threatened with global biosphere collapse and we need to adjust our expectations on migration accordingly.
Ecological science knows we have already exceeded numerous planetary boundaries in regard to sustaining a habitable Earth, one of which – as identified by myself in recently published peer reviewed science – is the need to maintain natural and agro-ecological ecosystems across 2/3 of the land, though 1/2 has already been lost. Natural and semi-natural ecosystems that remain are crucial to sustaining local and regional environmental sustainability, as well as the overall well-being of our one living biosphere that makes all life possible.
Earth’s remaining natural capital and thus a livable Earth are profoundly threatened by mass flows of migrants in so many ways. Newly arrived migrants quickly embrace Western style over-consumption (which dramatically reduces remaining natural ecosystems), refugee pathways are strewn with rubbish and nature trampled, and protected ecosystems are routinely violated. Ecosystem loss is thus both cause and effect of ecocidal mass migration.
Syria has faced a major climate-intensified drought which created conditions ripe for civil war. Many other countries in Africa and the Middle East are witnessing dramatic climate changes as population has grown exponentially and land fertility is in decline. In the flows of refugees to Europe we are witnessing the bioregional scale ecosystem collapse occurring in Africa and the Middle East as it expands its scope to become a global level ecological disturbance. There is no way the biosphere will be sustained with such large, poverty stricken populations on the move.
In many ecological systems it has been noted that when organisms are allowed to migrate at will across their full range, the entire system eventually collapses from overuse. Other more stable species segment their ranges so that while certain regions may see populations that surge and collapse, the population booms do not percolate throughout and destroy the entire ecosystem.
Migration and the overrunning of one culture by another is nothing new, it happened constantly in Europe historically, and the present international system is based upon Europe’s history of ecological colonialism. What are different are the scale, and our failure to correctly diagnose the ecological underpinning of the current mass migration, and that its solutions lie in going back to the land.
If massive hordes of poor people are allowed to traverse the Earth at will, overwhelming remaining natural ecosystems and societies that have shepherded their resources better, then global mass migration will tear down the biosphere.
This is merely stating the obvious, and does not mean we should not help those in need. But haphazard flows of refugees must not be tolerated, as the human family seeks to avert social, economic, and environmental collapse.
There is so much that can be done for those in need. As war rages, clearly Syrian refugees can’t be aided in place, but they and all would be refugees and migrants need to be assisted to achieve decent livelihoods from the land in their own bioregion. At some point they can be assisted to return to their homes.
At one time Europe, America, and the West were strong proponents of international law and cooperation. Murderous regimes waging genocide such as Assad and ISIS in Syria were to be confronted by United Nations forces and eliminated, not allowed to fester and spread destabilizing chaos. Advances in international law were abandoned after 911 and must be rehabilitated and enlarged.
Much of the Middle East is arid, marginal land for agricultural production (in ancient times it was more luxurious, though it has been impacted upon by millennium of poor management). It is virtually certain that climate change has made productive use of this land more difficult, as has soaring population rates. Population growth in the Middle East is unprecedented, growing 44% from 1990-2008. This addition of over 100,000,000 people in 18 years is far more than the land and water resources can support as climate chaos grows.
What we are witnessing with recent mass migration is ecological collapse resulting from over-population, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem loss. And the lure of an unsustainable lifestyle enjoyed by the few. It is well past time it is recognized as such.
The west must do more to bring equity and justice to displaced peoples, particularly as many of the societies and landscapes of developing countries have been ravaged by our insatiable appetite for resources. Simply, if affluent societies won’t share, they will be overrun. At its root, the current refugee crisis is yet more blowback for centuries of military adventurism to prop up our own over-consumption including an insatiable thirst for oil.
More must be done to extend the benefits of an economically secure and free existence to all of Earth’s inhabitants. Massive foreign aid to keep would be refugees as close to their places of origin as possible are necessary, and would cost a fraction of our current expenditures for waging permawar upon the Middle East. Systems of legal migration are essential to minimize disruption and ecological impact, while allowing true refugees fearing imminent persecution some relief.
Entire bioregions are collapsing ecologically, and their human populations must be brought into balance once again with the land. Family planning assistance will be essential. And hundreds of billions must be invested in ecological restoration, permaculture, organic farming, and other sustainable land uses. Sadly, if you destroy your land base, there no longer exists the ability to flee to another.
The focus long-term for the European refugee crisis must be upon international law and foreign aid to solve the refugee and mass migration crises at their source. In the short term, military and policing will be required to stop the flows as close as possible to their origin, and refugee camps setup as efforts commence to help migrants return to their homes as soon as possible.
If huge populations from Africa and South America continue to flee from collapsing bioregions, the small elitist bastions of Europe and United States cannot long stand (much less Australia, Japan and other overdeveloped nations). Some would argue this would be a good thing ecologically and socially. I disagree that society must descend into barbarity to achieve ecological sustainability and a just equitable world, there are other ways.
The land bases of the over-developed nations cannot hold the entire world and the last vestiges of civilization which may kindle a new sustainability paradigm must not be overrun. From the coming anarchy nothing will stand and human existence will plunge into a brutal competition just to survive, as seven billion super predators quite possibly clear every bit of nature, collapsing the biosphere, and ushering in the end of being.
It is vital that international policies for ecological sustainability are put into effect. Global environmental collapse will only be averted by ending fossil fuels, protecting and restoring large and connected natural ecosystems, embracing agro-ecology, and a whole host of other well-known green living innovations. This also includes the need to put in place controls to ensure orderly migration while helping migrants return to and restore the land in their own place of origins. Where this is not immediately possible, the rich must provide aid to shelter refugees as close as possible to their homes.
Crucially, small families, sustainable lifestyles, peace-making, and greater equity must be stressed globally.
We are well past the point where human populations can ravage local ecosystems and simply migrate to new virgin ecosystems to do the same. Allowing tens or even hundreds of millions of refugees and migrants to march across continents will take down the entire social and environmental system. Some would argue this is the path to rebalancing Earth ecologically. But there are other more humane pathways available to us based upon international cooperation, sharing, equity, and peace making.
The human family had best come together to meet all needs, protect ecosystems and end fossil fuels or we face biosphere collapse and the end of being. This means understanding and responding to the sheer terror and desperation felt by those that are suffering.
But for the grace of Gaia, anyone of us could become a migrant at any time.Yet their needs are best met in place as large scale migrations will finish off the natural world. This will require forcibly blocking mass migrations and providing massive aid locally.
Things could be so much better for all on a green, fair Earth. Basic human needs could be met for all while those that are smart and work hard still have more. But we have to change and embrace peace, justice, equity, and ecological sustainability as the meaning of life. Or the biosphere collapses and it is the end.
Internet mediated global self-awareness offers the human family its last best chance to redirect military and corporate welfare expenditures to ecological and social restoration necessary to achieving just and equitable global ecological sustainability. To start, we must recognize current mass migration for what it is, both a cause and symptom of biosphere collapse.


  1. Sadly, we, the human family, are not a family but are tribal clusters of economic and/or military barbarians who don’t know how to work together as a global family and save ourselves.
    Mass migrations are a fact of life — a short, as you have pointed out, life unless we actually become each others’ keepers. Unfortunately, that is unlikely.

  2. Your article concerning the reasons behind the massive illegal migration is a load of bullshit , and confirms that NGOs like your , not living in the region where these problems occur , know nothing and have hidden agendas .
    You know nothing of the EU and its people , and even less about the Arab nations and countries of Africa where these people come from , and have not understood that Arab and Asian nations have refused to accept illegal migrants , even Muslims .
    Traffickers and ISIL are behind the trade making millions of dollars , and the UN has done nothing but aggravate the instability and conflicts in the region .
    The regions where these people come from have been unstable for decades if not centuries as there is a permanent conflict between
    Sunni and Shia Muslims
    One other major problem is the third rate politicians that are in power in the EU , and their lack of accountability .
    I am pissed off with unaccountable NGOs of the world .

  3. Thanks.
    Regarding returning refugees to their homes – have you seen the Rodale Inst. paper on sequestering carbon through agriculture? They don’t even use permaculture but do math that would reduce CO2 beyond zero in a single year. All we need is the will.
    Governments and industries will never have the will.
    I’m sorry that I can’t donate.

  4. HUmans appear not to adapt to the ecosystems they invade, but instead, to modify those systems through eradicating indigenous animals and plants, and supplanting those organisms with introduced organisms.
    It may not matter that H.s. does this purposefully (in fact, neural bases of behavior more and more shows that we follow evolutionary agendas, and rationales invented by our imaginative symbolically verbal social minds are instead confabulations created AFTER the behaviors serving to increase the usual suspects: offspring survival), but we have not in modern European, Asian, or North American history, ever actually reduced either population or exploitation.
    This bodes ill for development of a future which reduces environmental exploitation, or even population reductin.
    The last is an issue so vital, that the only viable moral option is to focus on extreme reduction of reproduction.
    We see the usual benighted economic opinions that Germany, for instance, should welcome more humans. THere appears to be a gulf between understanding of economics, and hypotheses put into practice that run directly counter to ecological adaptation.
    Darwin deeply studied Thomas Malthus, and out of this developed differential reproductive success, leading to what we now understand as frequency changes in gene or allele We know a few simple principles:
    Ecosystems are protected from collapse through redundancy – different organisms can replace others in similar niches. Without redundancy, a system experiences trophic cascades, trophic downgrading, and/or collapse through starvation.
    Humans tend to simplify the systems into which they insert themselves in any significant number.
    However, nature consists of arrays of redundant organisms at every level, and if we remove the large long-established species, we quickly engage changes in smaller and microscopic organisms. We accelerate evolution throughselecting those that can increase in symbiosis with the largest populations of specioes that remain.
    So, you are now familiar with SARS, MERS-CoV, and a great number of resurgent microorganisms now resistant to the antibiotics of the short previous swuppression era.
    Polio is back in an organism that experiences unrelieved social stress. That stress leads to highly irrational decisionmaking with insufficient information: antivaxxers, in this case, desperately clinging to others who appear to be in similar social status, believing their cohorts rather than those more distant scientists.
    Without further exploring the cladistic development of beliefs here, I believe the illustration is sufficient.
    Humans have never, nor will ever act differently than the deep prompts that allowed the survival of small isolated populations; “mind”, as Gregory Bateson so aptly put it, cannot operate differently than nature.
    Dr. Barry has put enormous energy (and some courage) into speaking out about this subject, as has had to delve into philosophy in order to make it intelligible to a larger audience. The response I expect, will be moralization, and morals in our species are as liquid as every other temporary coalition occurring in creatures with those imaginative symbolic creative minds I hinted at.
    Because we have erroneously considered other brains of the other self-willed animals to be more determinate than our own, we fail to see that they have a utilitarian value in their mere existence; mas we wipe them out when we most need them to recover ecological resilience through them, we continue to simplify.
    Consider the autistic personality, which cannot comprehend the far greater sociality occurring around them: humans of highly exploitive cultures fail to respect those others as equals. I live where peoples of the Salmon, the Renewal Peoples of the North AMerican Pacific West, still conduct their deeply respectful and caring demonstrations of relationship with this ancient fish (perhaps 18 million years in anadromous form). They KNOW that the spawning slamon feed the eagle and the songbird, the great bear and the trees themselves, as their bodies are spread by the myriad creatures across the forest and streams and sea.
    Only when we return to such relationship beyond mere partial imaginary moralizations, but resonating intimately through our own bodies (of which neurons and their chemical transmitters are not separate), can we even imagine (once our strength, now our solipsistic enemy) the proper reverence for all other individuals that live, huge or microscopic. Should we achieve this, perhaps we might curb our desire for more social status through property “ownership” greater than others, that has led us into this blind solipsistic autistic state.

  5. Excellent. I will forward this one.
    Well done.
    Unfortunately no politician has the balls to discuss population numbers and what to about it. Nature will come up with its own solution.!!

  6. This discussion is important and here we must not lose sight of compassion, and we must not blame our fellow human beings who are forced to flee intolerable situations. I would be interested to see Dr Barry analyse how many refugees the UK could accept and over what timescale. And I would like to see further work on how one could finance letting people stay in the regions close to their point of origin.
    I think it needs an eco- army to introduce sustainable land management and how can that be acheived.
    If we lived in a more equitable world without the masive income disparities then we could tackle some of the problems at source.
    Lastly and most problematic is human fertility. How can we persuade ourselves to have fewer children? In my mind the most success has been acheived through female emancipation and increasing access of girls to education.
    Is there anyone able to bring coherent policies like these to bear on a wide enough front to make any difference?

  7. Overpopulation is the direct result of religions which allow – urge- men to treat women as vassals;
    Why else does the worst perpetrator force women to dress so strangley ?

  8. chi li fa scappare dai loro terreni sono i delinquenti ai poteri forti politici e dell alta finanza che agiscono in borsa e giocano con le multinazionali a derubare preziosi nel terzo mondo,amazzonia compresa ! MENTRE NELL AFRICA DEL NORD OCCIDENTALE E NEL MEDIO ORIENTE A FARLI SCAPPARE è LA GUERRA DEL CALIFFATO CHE PRETENDE L EGEMONIA E LA SUPREMAZIA DEL POTERE SU TUTTI GLI STATI ISLAMICI . SERVE UN PIANO ONU DI PACE NEL MEDIO ORIENTE, ALMENO LA RUSSIA SI MUOVE PER METTERE ORDINE E GIUSTIZIA PER SALVARE VITE UMANE ! VERGOGNA EUROPA ED U.S.A. !

  9. No mention of oil!, Golan Heights, sale by Israel. Genie Energy. Whole nations shifted and shafted by corporate greed!

  10. “What we are witnessing with recent mass migration is ecological collapse resulting from over-population, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem loss.”
    No, it is resulting from WAR. Stop bombing people and see how many millions try to flee their lands.

  11. I’m sorry, but this article on the current mass immigration of refugees into Europe, does NOT do jusitice to the problem. It only oversimplifies a complex crisis. Although I can go along with the underlying thought that destruction of local ecology leads to mass migration, the exit of Syrian refugees from their “own” region that we are confronted with now, is a FAR MORE COMPLICATED PROBLEM, which finds its main cause in a destructive war that has been going on for more than 4 years. The strong argument that refugees should stay (or even be kept!) in their own region, gives me very unpleasant shivers down my spine. ‘Keeping” people in their own region, in this crisis means leaving them to survive in poorly equipped, totally overrun refugee camps year in year out. THAT is the present and actual situation Syrian refugees have to deal with. And THAT is what European people and states heve to deal with right now. A problem aggrevated by the fact that European politicians – shamefully! – lack proper response and resolve. By the way, history is full of human mass migrations, of which the USA is an example par excellence. Irish and Italian immigrants who where starving in their own country, sought for a better future (and simply to survive!) in America in centuries past.
    The main focus now should be on providing a humane shelter to those who flee from war. Xenofoob reactions with the intent to ‘keep them in their own region’, and fears that ‘societies will be overrun by strange cultures’, do not help the discussion about this crisis. On the contrary, we already have enough of these bullshit discussions in several European countries. We Europeans have managed to shelter refugees in the past, and we will do so again…

  12. These comments are quite pertinent, and the situation is indeed quite worrying. However, this post does not really dig into the basic reasons for this dramatic situation, which are mainly captalistic profit and cultural aspects. The situation in the near-eastern countries is driven since the first World war by access to oil resources and by religious conflict between jews and arabs. The arab countries have been recently totally disorganized by the wars in Afghanistan, Irak, Syria an Libya, under the pretext of installing democracy, but in the interest of access to oil resources for the developped countries and the protection of Israel. Under the pretext of defending democracy in arab countries, Western politicians are simply acting under the influence of their true masters, the national industry and capitalistic establishments, with the hope of fostering also some additional growth for their countries. This is what may be called imperialism. Now it is the interest of musllm extremists to encourage mass migration towards Europe, in order to expand their faith and briing the whole world under Islam through invasion.
    In my view, there is no hope to improve this dramatic ecological situation as long as politicians are driven by the interest of capitalistic profit and growth, which means that first the people need to be convinced of the dangers of overpopulation and force politicians to take measures against it. China has been up to now the more rational countries in this field, because they succeeded in natality control. I could even add, for this reason, that China is probably the country who did the better job against climate change, which is basically driven by population growth and economic growth.

  13. Humanity on earts is a whole. You can bring people from this part to another part nothing has changed.
    Migration don’t help solving problem of overpopulation.

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