A Civilizational Threat? Hurricanes, Ideologies and PREVENT


On the 25th of August, Hurricane Harvey struck areas in and around the US leaving 71 confirmed deaths and an estimated economic loss approaching $180 billion dollars – eclipsing Katrina – in its wake. Five days later a tropical cyclone developed into the category 5 “Hurricane Irma”, hitting the Atlantic basin and unleashing destruction.  With Irma now weakening as I write, its carnage has taken at least 24 lives, with a further five people perishing in the US.  Major cities including Jacksonville, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina have been flooded, leaving millions without power.

The Human Factor

Interestingly, however, much of the discussion around two apocalyptic hurricanes occurring in such a small timeframe has rendered peripheral an increasingly pressing issue: the human contribution to natural disasters thanks to blind progressivism, industrialisation and modernity. Writing on Hurricane Harvey, Professor Michael E. Mann wrote,

“Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage and a larger storm surge.

Former NASA scientist Dr James Hansen further told Democracy Now! that there were “very clear links” between climate change and stronger hurricanes.

Despite this, there is an ideological struggle waged against those advocating policies to reduce the impact on the climate.  They also happen to advocate structurally violent pre-emptive policies when it comes to Muslims.

These sceptics can be found within corporatist, neoconservative circles that promote perpetual warfare whilst scrambling for control of oil reserves.  For neoconservatives, the war on climate change is like their war on Islam and Muslims: economic and ideological.


The journalist Nafeez Ahmed, commenting on the neocon propaganda project that is the UK arm of Breitbart and its intersection with xenophobia and climate denial, wrote that Breitbart represented a disturbing logic of how “Anglo-American neoconservative ideology is attempting to influence public and politics by harnessing anti-science discourse and rehabilitating the extreme right”.  The neocon hate-financed Henry Jackson Society postures a more sophisticated version of this toxic confluence:  promotion of demonisation rhetoric targeting Muslims in the UK and advocating Arab world fossil fuel hegemony through its political risk consultancy arm Strategic Analysis.

The ideological element is particularly pertinent. Notorious climate sceptic and writer for the xenophobic spread The Spectator, James Delingpole, published a shocking blog titled “Only the Tea Party can save us now”. In it, he explained his motive for opposing the “global warming scam”:

“It’s because I understand that “Environmentalism” is but one strategically significant theatre in a much greater ideological war being waged across the world. It’s the same one Toby Young is fighting over education; the same one the likes of Rod Liddle, Andrew Gilligan, Nick Cohen and Mark Steyn are fighting over political Islam; the same one Melanie Phillips is fighting over Israel; the same one Douglas Murray is fighting on pretty much everything.

The anti-Muslim neocon Michael Gove helped normalise the Islamophobic trope of “Trojan Horse” into mainstream political discourse and drove through the “British values” public surveillance programme on a conspiracy-theory-based, fabricated pretext.  Ed Davey, saw Theresa May’s appointment of Gove to oversee the Department of the Environment as a “threat to the British fight against climate change”.  He added,

“When I was energy and climate change secretary I sat around a cabinet table with Gove, and he couldn’t help playing to the Tory climate-sceptic audience.

This ideological bent exposes a deep-rooted hypocrisy in the context of dealing with large-scale, global threats.

Precautionary Principle

Neocons promote pre-crime, pre-emptive action and also flirt with climate scepticism.  What is the link between the two ostensibly distinctive behavioural themes? The link is a conceptual one but exemplifies the typical neocon trademark of double-standards.

Through the War on Terror, neoconservatives have massively accelerated the growth of pre-crime uncertainty within the social and criminal justice spheres of Western countries.  Its fundamental basis – pre-emption – is used to perpetuate injustices in the West and destroy countries abroad.

Pre-crime’s second fundamental substrate is known as the “precautionary principle”. Pre-emption and precaution, though similar, are distinguished in their objectives: pre-emption seeks to coerce “normalisation” by intervening early; precaution “preserves the current order”. With precaution “the object is scientifically uncertain, but the form, the specific actuality the threat will take, is known; moreover, it is understood that if left unchecked, the effects could be catastrophic”.[1]  Incidentally, there are some interesting points which result from understanding the precautionary logic in relation to PREVENT, CVE and other community-drive responses to terrorism.  Most pertinent of all is that the precautionary logic produces the understanding of radicalisation as a linear, teleological process.  This flatly contradicts proclamations propagandised by paid PREVENT proponents (such as Will Baldet) which seek to disprove PREVENT’s linearity.

A Danger to the World

Returning to the context of this article, the origin of the precautionary principle is particularly interesting. It was developed during the 1970s specifically in response to arguably the greatest threat to humanity: climate change. The globally catastrophic outcome rests on things that are known, such as rising temperatures and water levels, and those that are not.  As an example of the latter, in 2005 the sea surface in the tropical Atlantic Ocean became exceptionally warm in an unprecedented fashion, spawning Hurricane Katrina and droughts in previously hyper-wet areas of the Amazon.

The neoconservatives, quick to violently apply pre-emptive and precautionary logics to Muslims in an ideologically subjective, repressive fashion, have yet to wage a war to “prevent” what is a considerably deadlier threat.  There is no Global War on Global Warming. There are no counter-extremism measures to shut-down those who play down the threat. There are no restrictions placed on powerful military/oil corporatists and liberal states that exploit both people and the world we live in to the detriment of both. There are no measures to “deradicalize” ideological fanatics that prefer to blind-eye a world in peril than to help it purely in the name of right-wing philosophy. Furthermore, there are no “reform” efforts which seek to eviscerate a modernity that has separated intrinsic value from nature thereby rendering it as simply an object of exploitation. Nor do such programmes target the core principles of capitalism and neoliberalism which continue to resultantly destroy the natural habitat.

Instead, the attitude is one which hypes up the threat of terrorism, feeds the oil industry, but inhibits environmental activism and suppresses the threat of climate change.

In 2004, a secret report produced by the Pentagon concluded that the “threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism”. This report was suppressed by US defence chiefs amongst whom at that time was the notorious neocon and advocate of the doctrine of pre-emption in the terrorism sphere, Paul Wolfowitz. Also present during that period was the US vice president and CEO of oil field services corporation Halliburton, Dick Cheney. He lobbied for the US to leave the Kyoto protocol, an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. Today, Trump’s cabinet is dominated by climate deniers.  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has proffered his support to warmongering neocons, failed to rule out a “Muslim registry” and believes in dealing with the threat of terrorism by pre-emptively “getting into the mosque, getting into the majlis”, is a former CEO of ExxonMobil. In December 2016, it was reported that the corporation consistently lobbied against climate change proposals and was under investigation for misleading investors on the risks of climate change.  Here in Britain, CAGE recently exposed the existence of Counter Terrorism Local Profiles – a document that identifies “extremist ideologies and threats”. Among its profiles it included anti-fracking protestors. This is consistent with the Canary’s 2016 findings that demonstrated a trend in the implementation of PREVENT which constructed anti-fracking protestors as potential terrorists. Given the ideological, vested interests, the flaccidity of the word “extremist”, and how the term is current enough for the population to use it in the discourse of climate change (see poll here, p.49), were the concerns of people regarding human contributions to climate change strong enough to spur activism and organised protest, it would only be a matter of time before the repressive framework of PREVENT would regard those associating with such activism as vulnerable to terrorism.

Concluding Remarks

In light of the neocon penchant for deception, perpetual war and climate denialism, how can one not conclude that neoconservatives remain a danger not only to the security of the state, but the very world we live in today? There is a considerable need – now more than ever – to move beyond the infantile politics of greed, division and derision fermented in the name of defending “Judeo-Christian/Western civilisation” and re-prioritise the healing of a planet that is home to human civilisation.

“Surely, in the creation of heavens and earth, and the alternation of night and day, and the ships that sail in the sea, carrying that which benefits men, and in the water Allah sent down from the sky, then revived with it the earth after it was dead, and in every creature He has scattered on it, and in turning of winds, and in the clouds employed to serve between heaven and earth, there are signs for those who have sense. (Qur’an, 2:164)

“We established you on earth, and created in it means of living for you. Little do you appreciate.(Qur’an, 7:10)

“Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of the people have earned, so that He (Allah) makes them taste some of what they did, in order that they may return (to the right way). (Qur’an, 30:41)

“Do not cause corruption on the earth after it has been set in order. Supplicate Him in fear and hope. Surely, the mercy of Allah is close to those who are good in their deeds. (7:56)


[1] Martin T., (2014) “Governing an unknowable future: the politics of Britain’s Prevent policy”, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 7:1, 62-78, DOI: 10.1080/17539153.2014.881200

One thought on “A Civilizational Threat? Hurricanes, Ideologies and PREVENT

  1. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “In light of the neocon penchant for deception, perpetual war and climate denialism, how can one not conclude that neoconservatives remain a danger not only to the security of the state, but the very world we live in today? There is a considerable need – now more than ever – to move beyond the infantile politics of greed, division and derision fermented in the name of defending “Judeo-Christian/Western civilisation” and re-prioritise the healing of a planet that is home to human civilisation.”

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