Home Adaptation Brexit: Yes, it Matters to Us

Brexit: Yes, it Matters to Us


A Brave New Britain

As my colleague John Pennington noted, Britain has chosen to exit the European Union. He rightly pointed out that the voting was close, both sides could claim foul for various reasons, it rained, and, in short, there will be a whole host of reasons why it's very likely that the issue will be in the hands of lawyers and courts for years to come.

On the surface, this might seem like a simple choice based on economics, or national pride, or other fairly innocuous reasons for choosing A over B. But this vote underlies a much more deadly and dangerous circumstance that's worthy of more thorough evaluation.

Here goes--the question at the heart of the matter: So why does this have anything to do with us, anyway?

Cause and Effect

We've explored the intricate relationships between cause and effect before. Here are some of the examples:

The essence of these presentations is that it's fairly easy to to understand the first-level of cause and effect. It's more difficult to understand second-level effects. By the time one gets to third-level effects, there are likely to be so many system impacts in play that it may be completely impossible to firmly tag an effect to a cause.


The pawns in this often tragic game of chess are the refugees. We've discussed refugee issues before as well:

Here, the discussion involves a cause and effect circumstance as it plays out. This is simplified, but it goes something like this:

  1. Climate change, groundwater depletion, and desertification have destroyed the ability of large swaths of the Middle East to support their populations.
  2. The conflict over resources escalates to war. These wars are pretty much always attributed to a cause other than the real one: they're blamed on religion, race, politics, oil, etc. But that's not accurate -- all of these wars are wars over water.
  3. The losers in these wars become refugees. They run to save their families and way of life. When they do, they run headlong into established societies that are also seeking to protect their families and way of life.
  4. The established societies push back.

Refugees, by country

  • In France, they insist that refugees become 'French' -- and they've made the effort to ban the hijab and other features of Middle Eastern dress that define the contributing culture. This insistence makes France and some other European countries targets of terrorists. Important note: The refugees are not the terrorists.
  • In the US, we threaten to build mighty walls to keep out the refugees--all in all, a pretty unAmerican thing to do, given that our greatness was founded on immigration.
  • And in Britain, they vote for Brexit. Brexit is a protectionist movement to keep out refugees by escaping from EU regulations, pure and simple. It's driven, as are all of these examples, by two things: fear of change; and our overall ineffective response as a people to climate change.

Choices and more choices

As with all complex issues that affect society, there are choices to be made. Brexit should inspire us to consider two in particular:

  1. Will we remain the open society that made us great? Or will we retreat into a protectionist posture that ultimately will damage our ability to adapt to the brave new world that we face?
  2. Will we finally cast aside climate change denial and acknowledge that it is the driving force in emergencies and disasters worldwide, including here at home--and finally gather together with the political will to do something about it before it's too late?

Up to us. I hope we choose well.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.