On the day when David Cameron has tried to banish forever the notion that he is engaging in “Project Fear” (appropriately lampooned by John Crace here in the Guardian), here are a number of parallels between the climate wars and the current Brexit skirmishes that I have noticed and found interesting. Make of these what you will:
1. There’s the stereotyping. Those in the “Out” camp are often viewed in the media as right-wing Little Englanders – except they’re not. George Galloway, anyone? Likewise, those in the climate sceptic camp here in the UK are often viewed in the media as right-wing Little Englanders – except they’re not. Piers Corbyn, right wing?
2. Somewhat illogically, there’s also a perception in the media that the Brexit gang are a diverse and divisive rag-tag alliance (Nigel Farage and George Galloway on the same platform). The same could also generally be said about climate sceptics. I think this is actually not far from the truth, and it might indeed be a strength rather than a weakness, as not everyone can then be tarred with the same stereotypical brush.
3. There’s a bit of overlap between EU and CAGW scepticism – if these were circles in a Venn diagram, we would find UK politicians Owen Paterson and Graham Stringer (Conservative and Labour, respectively) in the area where they intersected (and they would probably be joined by lots of non-politicians, too).
4. There are also the big battalions lined up against both the Brexiteers and the climate sceptics. Against the “Out” camp are ranged a giant army of big business concerns, environment agencies, world leaders, the EU itself, Emma Thompson and President Obama. Against the CAGW sceptics are ranged a giant army of big business concerns, environment agencies, world leaders, the EU itself, Emma Thompson and President Obama. And the Pope. The power of authority! (Or the power of deeply vested interests, looked at in another way.)
5. And, of course, there’s Project Fear. Both Britain leaving the EU and “inaction on climate” will lead to Bad Things happening. Very Bad Things. I don’t need to spell these out, really. On climate change, Project Fear has actually been going for decades, although when they periodically realise people aren’t all that scared, something akin to Cameron’s “Project Fact” then gets proposed (just as long as the purported facts are frightening facts, mind). That doesn’t work, either, and so they go back to the Fear.
Anyway, why are there apparent close similarities between these two conflicts? I don’t have the definitive answer to this but suspect that something they have in common, very broadly speaking, is the age-old antagonism between Freedom and Authority.