What Does Brexit Mean for the Environment? It's Not Pretty

AP

Britain is leaving the European Union, and that's terrible news for the environment — as well as anyone who cares about protecting it.

The powers-to-be in the U.K. have turned the nation's exit into a platform you might as well call "make environmental destruction for monetary gain great again."

In May, George Eustice, Britain's pro-Brexit farming minister, criticized U.K. green directives that protect endangered species and undo damage to Union beaches. 

Conservationists might call these directives common-sense guidelines to guard against the loss of vulnerable ecosystems. Eustice called them "spirit crushing."

Eustice said he'd shutter the birds and habitats directives protecting flora and fauna. Instead, "if we had more flexibility, we could focus our scientists' energies on coming up with new, interesting ways to protect the environment, rather than just producing voluminous documents from Brussels," he said.

What's Eustice's alternative idea? A "government-backed insurance scheme" to "incentivize farmers to do positive things for the environment." Details are notably lacking.

Farming Minister George EusticeSource: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Farming Minister George Eustice  Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A liberated Britain would probably omit the European Union's more successful planet-protecting initiatives like the cleaning of British beaches. It'd leave the kingdom open to "new, interesting ways" to neglect everything between the Earth and the atmosphere. Even the bees are at risk thanks to easier, cheaper farming methods.

Ignoring pressing environmental issues is certainly a "new, interesting way" to protect the environment. It's just not a good one.

Scientific research is at risk: Without the support of the EU, scientific funding and collaboration may face serious roadblocks.

"The U.K. does fantastic science," Jonathan Pritchard, a senior lecturer in astrostatistics at Imperial College London, told the Verge. "But it does it through collaboration. ... Brexit throws up walls to that collaboration while doing nothing to support U.K. science."

Even worse: The former mayor of London, pro-Brexit Boris Johnson, is in the running to be the U.K.'s next prime minister. Johnson seems to be of the belief that climate change is false.

And it doesn't help matters that America's walking Brexit, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, seems jazzed over the U.K.'s vote to leave. Trump, as we know, thinks climate change is "bullshit.

While it will take months and likely years for the effects of the Brexit to show up in environmental reports, it's scary that as the globe enters a veritable environmental red zone, one nation has quickly found a way to get out from under strict regulation. That's to the detriment of not only the U.K., but everyone else too.

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