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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 

Have we found a use for Trident so soon?

Tony Blair compared the fight against climate change to the battle against fascism and the cold war today, as the government pledged to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 with the publication of the UK's first ever climate change bill.

Right, so when do we start bombing? Where do we bomb? Where do we point our independent nuclear deterrent? Do we start with Heathrow before moving on to Chelsea, or do we first commit acts of sabotage against Didcot power station? How about having the police storm houses where the negligent selfish bastards leave the TV on standby, with orders to shoot to kill in case there's Islamic fascists with bomb belts seeking refuge inside?

The Dear Leader's comparison isn't just lazy, it's utterly meaningless. Climate change cannot be an enemy unless we ourselves are the enemy; we've created it. It's not a battle that can be won either through military means or through the threat of military action. It can be argued that climate change does potentially pose a threat through forcing mass migration or creating natural disasters, but the worst ravages of climate change are only likely to be felt once the vast majority of us now alive are long dead, and that's if not enough is done now to tackle the problem at the source through reducing carbon emissions.

Blair does have something of a point in suggesting that different generations of politicians face different challenges, but he certainly isn't going to be around to deal with this supposed new challenge, unless there's something he hasn't told us. The other main problem is that Blair and others have already tried to build up an new bogeyman to take the place of the cold war in the threat posed by al-Qaida et al. At least this somewhat resembles what could be an existential threat, but it's one which has been heavily exaggerated for political purposes, and powerful ideology though it is, is not one which directly threatens the life of the nation, as it were. Add into this Blair's recent rhetoric about failed states and the continuing impasse over Iran's nuclear ambitions and this is the main realistic threat posed. Unfortunately for Blair and co, this doesn't in any way resemble or exude the same menace as the Soviet Union did, let alone Nazism, and it's doubtful that any amount of attempts to convince the wider public as a whole into believing this will wash, however much help friendly propagandists and others give.

I can only surmise that the real reasons every new "threat" is bigged up to being the end of life as we know it is that politicians believe that unless you're suitably dramatic and over-the-top no one will listen to you, which has some merit in the age when Al Gore claims that Current TV is going to change the world as we know it through user-generated content, the most successful pieces of which so far are Loose Change, the propaganda videos produced by jihadists, and whichever video is currently top of the YouTube charts. The second is that it seems to be every politician's deepest desire to be Churchill: leading the nation out of its darkest hour, bringing everyone together and coming out victorious. The by-product of the Churchill act is that it frightens people, which is always a good way of achieving acquiescence. Who cares if it just makes you look like an imbecile who can't think up a new way to address a new problem without conjuring up images of instantaneous doom? It'll at least go down well with someone. Probably.

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