JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Why The West’s Elites Prefer The Climate Change Gnat To The Great Migration Camel
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[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

Above, the border between Poland and Belarus. (And a camel.)

This week's text is from the Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 23, Verse 24

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Jesus really nailed it there. That's our ruling class and their media lackeys to a "t" … actually, I guess, since the Savior was speaking Aramaic, to a taw. They make a great fuss, a great show of struggle and passion, trying to swallow a gnat; but the camel goes down with one smooth gulp.

  • Huge black junkie hoodlum dies of an O.D. while under restraint by small white cop? Nationwide struggle, passion, writhing, straining.

    Black cop shoots unarmed white female veteran trespasser with no warning? [Crickets.]

  • Republican president's National Security Adviser makes courtesy calls to Russian ambassador? Top-level investigations, endless prosecutions, years of struggle and straining.

    Democratic vice-president's son's laptop reveals multi-million-dollar influence-peddling deals with Chinese and Ukrainian entities? [Crickets.]

  • Citizens protesting a rigged election get into the Capitol building, break a couple of windows, take selfies? Insurrection! Just like 9/11, says Nancy Pelosi. No, like Pearl Harbor, says Steve Cohen. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War, says Joe Biden. Rage, passion, a Congressional Select Committeestraining.

    Anarchist mobs loot, burn, and kill in cities all over. Dozens of deaths, billions in property damage. [Crickets.]

For the last few years, our news has been all like that. If you look closely at the big headline issues, the ones generating all the heat and noise in the mainstream media, there is nothing much there—just a gnat.

If you want to know what really matters, what is really nation-changing, you may, if you're lucky, catch a glimpse of it from item number eleven in your evening TV news, or on page 23 of your broadsheet newspaper, or in fringe internet outlets like, well,

Thus on November 12th, the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, wound up in Glasgow, Scotland, after two weeks of presentations, discussions, partying, and celebrity schmoozing. The Great and the Good came from far and wide to express their concern for what is, according to them, an existential challenge to the human race.

Is it, though? The Earth's overall mean temperature has risen by one-seventh of a degree Fahrenheit per decade since 1880. So in my lifetime our planet got one point one degrees warmer. I suppose I should be ashamed to say it; but honestly, listener, I didn't even notice.

How much hotter will the planet be at the end of this century? That of course depends on whether we go on doing just what we're doing, or do something different.

If we go on doing what we're doing, estimates go all the way up to 8.6 degrees, although—I'm quoting here from Discover magazine: "some climate researchers caution that it's more of an upper bound possibility and is unlikely to occur" [How Hot Will Climate Change Make the Earth By the Year 2100?, by Nathaniel Scharping, February 15, 2021].

Probably I would notice that, if I were around to notice it.

We're not going to go on doing what we're doing for the next eighty years, though, any more than we're doing today what we were doing in 1940. Even without nagging from the climate alarmists, even if we don't all start eating beetles and traveling by rickshaw, technology changes of its own accord, generally in a cleaner, more efficient direction.

Population changes, too: World population has more than tripled since 1940; it's extremely unlikely to triple again by 2100. In the biggest energy-consuming nations of today, it will actually have declined, unless someone figures out how to encourage people in these countries to make more babies, which so far no one has.

All things considered, my bet would be on a world-wide temperature rise, absent lifestyle upheavals like beetle-eating and rickshaws, in the range 3½ to 5½ degrees—three to five times what I have failed to notice in my own lifetime. Existential crisis? Nah, we'll adjust.

But Derb (I hear you cry) what about rising sea levels?

The numbers come out similarly nonexistential. Global mean sea level has risen about seven inches in my lifetime, again without my noticing. The IPCC thinks a one to three feet further rise will happen if we go on doing what we're doing, but the same arguments apply.

Again I end up guessing that, even if we ignore the nagging from British royals, Swedish goblins, and Hollywood airheads, the actual rise will be three to five times what I've failed to notice in my own lifetime. Meh.

Yes, there'll be localized issues, some of them locally existential. The world's lowest-lying country is the Maldives, an archipelago in the ocean south of India, average natural elevation five feet above sea level. If that dwindles to three feet, the Maldiveans are in a pickle. There are only half a million of them, though, and I'm sure India will take them in if no other solution can be found (world's first floating nation?).

Humanity always has problems to face, and we've successfully faced far bigger ones than global warming. All right, it's bigger than a gnat—a housefly, perhaps. For sure it doesn't justify the hyperbole, hysteria, and celebrity virtue-signaling we've gotten this last two weeks from Glasgow.

The camel, in this extended analogy I'm running, is demography: more precisely, the Great Migration of people from poop-hole countries with high fertility to civilized countries with low fertility.

Three recent items from the non-headline news:

  • First item:The EU, the European Union, is being challenged by floods of migrants, most from the Middle East, trying to break into Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, which are all EU members, from Belarus, which isn't.

    The migrants are being flown into Belarus deliberately by that country's President-for-Life Alexander Lukashenko. He then sends them to the borders with those aforementioned EU members as revenge for EU sanctions against him. The degree to which this is Lukashenko's brainchild, as opposed to Vladimir Putin's, with Lukashenko just Putin's cat's paw, is unclear [Poland border: West condemns Belarus at UN over stranded migrants, BBC, November 13, 2021].

  • Second item: Britain's no longer in the EU, but that hasn't spared the Brits from illegal immigration woes. So far this year more than 22,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in boats, crossing the Channel from France [Migrant crossings reach 22,000: At least 100 crossed the Channel overnight to arrive in the UK today after 695 made dangerous journey yesterday, by Jack Wright, Daily Mail, November 11, 2021].

    The British government has made clucking noises but no real effort to stop the flow. The illegals are still officially referred to as "asylum seekers," although no one in government has explained what's wrong with France as an asylum destination.

  • Third item: A huge caravan of illegals from Central America is on its way north through Mexico. It should arrive at our southern border later this month.

    The caravan has a vanguard of young, violent aggressive men in the front [Migrant Caravan Approaching the Border Appears Increasingly Violent, by  Wyatt Goolsby, KTRH, November 8, 2021]. Mexican police barricades have been no match for them.

    The Biden administration has so far expressed no concern, or taken any action.

This is a huge and growing crisis, far more pressing than climate change and with few signs of world elites—including American elites—having any clue what to do about it.

Such hopeful signs as there are come from Europe—especially from Eastern Europe, from countries that only thirty years ago regained their sovereignty after decades under the Soviet heel.

Poland is responding sturdily to Lukashenko's attempt to flood them with illegals. They now have multilayer barriers of barbed-wire coils the entire length of the border, and Poland's parliament has authorized the building of a wall [Poland to build Belarus border wall to block migrant influx, BBC, October 29,2021]. Lithuania and Latvia are showing similar resolution.

And the EU itself seems to be waking up. The Union's political leadership, in its plodding way, has begun the process of helping fund border walls:

European officials and EU diplomats said that a number of governments were still reluctant to directly fund border walls because it is politically controversial, but several noted that a majority is tilting in favor of the demands by frontier states.

That marks a profound shift from a near-decade long reluctance to pay for barriers…

[Europe Weighs Border Walls as Migrants Mass in Belarus at Poland’s Frontier, by Drew Hinshaw and Bojan Pancevski, Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2021]

(The subhead is The European Union is adopting a tougher stance toward migration in response to what officials see as a hybrid attack from a close Russian ally, as if tens of thousands of Muslims illegals only become a problem when Putin is involved.)

Given the speed at which things move in EU executive politics, Fortress Europe is some years away yet. It looks like it may happen, though.

Fortress Britain and Fortress America are nowhere in sight. The Brits are totally cucked. The most common statements from the government there about the Channel boats are concern for the safety of the invaders, as if that was anyone's business but the invaders' own.

As well as being cursed with spineless politicians and a defeated, apathetic public, Britain is further blighted by exceptionally wide-ranging so-called "Human Rights" laws and a large and vigorous establishment of "Human Rights" lawyers working them.

These "Human Rights" seem to apply only to foreigners, especially illegal aliens. Just this week the British government tried to deport 37 illegal-alien criminals to their native Jamaica, but the plane took off with only four people on board [Jamaica deportation flight leaves with just four people on board, by Adina Campbell & Doug Faulkner, BBC,  November 11, 2021]. "Human Rights" lawyers had blocked the rest through legal action.

And the British government I'm talking about here is in the hands of the Conservative Party! If Britain's more progressive party was in charge, they'd be chartering luxury cruise ships to bring the invaders in.

Readers are I'm sure familiar with the U.S. situation, especially since last month's fiasco with the Haitians and the ongoing seeding of red states with Afghans.

Given that no one ever supposed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were conservatives, though, we are at least less crazy than the Brits. What is more important for a Conservative Party to conserve than the country's borders?

So that's my thesis. Peering forward through the coming decades, there are lesser things to worry about, and then there are much, much greater things. There are gnats and there are camels.

Climate change is a gnat: mass migration of peoples from crappy places to nice places, is a camel. Our elites fuss and shout and strain over the gnat, but swallow the camel in silence.

The one thing has an influence on the other, of course, as my example of the Maldives shows.

That's a trivial example, though. Let's suppose you live in the West African country of Niger, where the Total Fertility Rate is 6.9 children per woman. And let's suppose that at some point between now and year 2100, climate change makes agriculture in Niger, which is today only very difficult, absolutely impossible.

Then you, or your 6.9 children, or your 47.61 grandchildren, will likely be wanting to move to somewhere more salubrious.

Note please that even without climate change, Niger's current population of 23.6 million will by century's end have increased to several hundred million—more than the current population of the entire EU. Note also that Niger is only one of the 28 countries with Total Fertility Rate greater than four, all but one of them in sub-Saharan Africa. (What is the one? Afghanistan.)

So yes: looking forward at the decades to come, humanity faces at least one colossal problem, and it's not climate change.

So why, then, are the Great and the Good—royals, movie stars, pop singers, progressive politicians—jetting around the world for solemn conferences about climate change, when this greater and far more intractable problem is looming in plain sight?

Why aren't the Beautiful People congregating in Glasgow to discuss the defense of the civilized world against swelling hordes of desperate migrants?

Part of it, I think, is just fashion. Once a critical mass of jet-setters have embraced a cause, others will naturally be attracted.

Another part is the opportunities for status display. Even the humblest climate cultist can drive an electric car. If you are a royal, you can heat the palace with solar panels. If you're a politician, you can promote world-saving legislation.

All right; but why is climate change the gnat, mass migration the camel? After all, there are opportunities for status display in mass migration, too, as witness the trend of elite women adopting Third World infants.

Is it race? Is it because the inevitable—it really does look inevitable—the inevitable course of events leads to the civilized nations of the world, twenty or thirty years from now, defending their borders with major force against great hordes of desperate migrants, most of them black?

I doubt that. The Great and the Good are too innumerate to grasp the inevitability there; and all respectable people in the Western world have trained themselves never to think about black people in any other than uplifting terms.

Part of the answer I think is in humanity's religious instinct. Climate change is easy to work up into a cult. You can feel yourself and your fellow cultists to be righteous, waging war against sin. You can display emblems of your righteousness: your solar panels, your electric car. And there is, as with Marxism, a New Jerusalem to look forward to—a world without sin, the world in which the climate has been stabilized.

The coming mass-migration crisis, by contrast, doesn't lend itself to that kind of cultification. What would it mean to be righteous about it? "Let 'em all in!" might work, and there are a few enthusiasts—some of the crazier kind of economists like Bryan Caplan (author of  Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration) for instance—but it doesn't have much market share.

I suspect, though, that most of the answer is political suppression. The progressive regime doesn't mind people babbling about climate change. It doesn't interfere with anything they want to accomplish; and as a side benefit, it gives them opportunities to look busy and virtuous without actually breaking a sweat.

Mass migration, though, is a key part of their agenda—their secret agenda. Why do you think they are flying migrants into Red States at three o'clock in the morning? [ ‘Send them to Delaware’: DeSantis threatens action over secret migrant flights , by Haley Brown, NY Post, November 10, 2021]

This is something they want to keep going: to feed their donors with cheap labor, and to replace the obnoxious, uppity, spoiled, lazy legacy population with a more submissive kind of serfs.

To keep it going, though, they have to keep it quiet. Chatter all you like about climate change; but if you chatter about mass migration, the Regime will frown, close your PayPal and Facebook accounts, cancel your conferences, intimidate your lawyers and accountants.

Gnats may be strained at as noisily as you please. Camels must be swallowed in silence.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

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