Saturday, 22 September 2018

Brexit's climate of change

Photo: Clive Simpson

SO FAR this year our natural world has delivered any number of examples of what future anthropogenic climate change might bring - and even now, in late September, we have recently witnessed two record-breaking hurricanes wreaking havoc on different sides of the globe.
                                   
Extremes are the story of our weather reporting and forecasting these days, yet mainstream media hardly dares make the connection that we are living through the first, potentially deadly consequences of climate change.

Global warming knocks urgently at everyone’s door but in the UK we look inward, consumed by a delusion born of self-interest. This is Brexit - and the UK’s impending annexation from Europe is the political equivalent of climate change.

To mention both climate change and Brexit in the same sentence is an interesting dichotomy in itself because it is rare to draw comparisons between such disparate things as political ideologies and what might loosely be described as a ‘force of nature’. One could argue, of course, that each is a self-inflicted catastrophe that is wholly, or at least partly, avoidable.

Another singular conclusion relating to each also encapsulates the point. Namely, it seems likely that the end results of both are going to be far worse than anyone is properly admitting, and the effects unless we change course - globally in the case of climate change - will be felt not for just a few years but for generations.

For the UK, Brexit is a fundamentally flawed exercise. It was never really about what was good for the country but what served the self-interests of vocal and fanatical political factions. At every turn, it seeks, without reason or rational argument, to undermine the values on which this country was built.

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” cried King Solomon at the beginning of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. History teaches us that it is vanity and individualism, as opposed to pursuing the greater or common good, that has mostly brought great countries to their knees and destroyed mighty civilisations.

We now know there was never to be a tangible Brexit dividend, and every day it seems clearer the country is being held ransom, not by scapegoat immigrants or even sound political thinking but by lies and untruths disguised as vacuous phrases and innocuous sound bites.

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree," wrote Lewis Carrol in Alice in Wonderland. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don't know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn't matter.”

But it does matter because without any kind or realistic, future-looking vision ‘the people perish’, to paraphrase a quotation from the book of Proverbs (29:18). 

The northern hemisphere heat extremes of summer 2018 maybe have already been largely forgotten as we go about our everyday business. We continue to ignore the big picture of climate change at our future peril. Likewise with Brexit.

Ultimately there is no third way and, despite the protestations of a prime minister and leader of the opposition both in dogmatic denial, the choice is simple - a hard, chaotic Brexit or remain a member of the EU.

Two years on from that awkward, ill-defined referendum we still wander indecisively, a country lost and disorientated in some crazy political paralysis. We do still have choices but time is running short.

As a people, a country, we can hold up the torch of enlightenment and hope - just as we once did. Or we can cower in the shadows, weakened by ignorance and fear, and retreat alone into the dark of night.

Over two long years, Theresa May and her government’s repeated attempts at 'negotiations' have utterly failed the nation. Her bid to offload responsibility to the EU is truly embarrassing, a vain effort to shift the blame for laying waste a country she purports to love.

Often in times of impasse, difficulty or strife we turn to literature for solace, advice or even prophetic wisdom. Maybe also to discover words of honesty and hope that politicians, so bound by their short-term profanity, are afraid to utter.

The great American poet Robert Frost might therefore be relied upon in this instance to sum things up nicely. My appropriately amended (with apologies) version of his poem ‘Fire and Ice’ somehow strikes a new resonance, covering as it does both natural and political boundaries in a few short lines:

“Some say our world will end in fire, some say ice. But from what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favour fire.

“But if I had to perish twice I think I know enough of hate to say that for destruction ‘Brexit’ is also great and will surely suffice."