The Environmentalist Gospel

View of the Moss Landing Power Plant in California, May 5, 2008 (Dawn Ellner)

View of the Moss Landing Power Plant in California, May 5, 2008 (Dawn Ellner)

A new, thoroughly twenty-first century threat to domestic harmony is emerging, reports The Independent. “In some relationships, it is said to be causing as much discord as those age-old battlegrounds, sex and money. The problem is environmental incompatibility.”

Therapists across America are reporting a sharp increase in what they call “green disputes”. Couples are finding it increasingly difficult to agree about how much their little unit should contribute to that great cause of our age, the saving of the planet.

Independent‘s Terence Blacker, fortunately, provides a little common sense as we shake our heads and wonder what has gotten into people. “The high priests and priestesses should, for the sake of their case, give the rest of us a break,” he writes. “All this scolding, bossiness and moral superiority is not only bad for relationships, but it does more harm than good to the planet. Spreading guilt is never a good way to convert souls, even to the great secular faith of our times.”

An interesting choice of words on Blacker’s part for environmentalism is increasingly becoming a dogma uncontested in media and academics.

As early as 1995, in Acton Institute’s Religion & Liberty (Volume 5, Number 2), Robert H. Nelson, a professor of environmental policy, warned against what he called “The Ecological Gospel“. Infuriated with Christian sentiment, environmentalists in the United States more than ten years ago preached against the progress of the modern age already, which, according to them, “has not meant the advance of mankind, but has instead plunged human beings into evil ways,” as Nelson put it. They denounce our modern day consumer society and like to think of human beings as a “cancer” on the planet. Our “addiction to growth,” they insist, “will destroy us all.”

Apocalypse hasn’t quite unfolded yet though 2012 Scare is a recent example of popular fright that environmental collapse is imminent nonetheless. That belief is only enforced by opinion- and policymakers the world over who threaten that life as we know it will come to an end unless we do something, now. The end is nigh, they cry, and we better repent for our environmentalist sins. Back in the 1990s, Nelson knew that “the wide fears of recent years about global warming […] have more to do with religion than science.”

The heating of the earth, global warming alarmists tell us, will melt the polar ice caps, raise the seas, and thereby cause widespread flooding. Higher temperatures will parch the land, creating famine. Global warming will alter the normal weather patterns of the earth, bringing on drought. Perhaps it will encourage insects and bacteria, spreading disease. Flooding, famine, drought, pestilence, all are the traditional instruments of a wrathful God imposing a just punishment on a world of many sinners.

“In environmental theology, the traditional Judeo-Christian categories of good and evil have been replaced by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’,” a phenomena that is all the more powerful today as companies “go green” while more and more “eco-friendly” products turn up in our shopping carts. It would appear that many have forgotten that it were chemicals, synthetics and the exploitation of the Earth that allowed us to reach our current state of civilization and luxury in the first place.

Denouncing industry and the progress that it has brought man is not the way to overcome climate change. Yet, as Nelson dreaded, “environmental policies often are not shaped by pragmatic concerns of how to improve human welfare. Instead, [they] follow a logic grounded in an environmental theology” which loves everything “natural” and abhors all that is anti-nature. Thus windmills, for instance, though hardly economical, are subsidized with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars while lawmakers try to ban everything that pollutes. Increasingly, the state acts as a protector, not of its citizenry, but of nature, making life more difficult for the common man in the process.

The majority of the people, “who simply want a clean and attractive environment,” according to Nelson, “are paying a high price — many tens of billions of dollars — for their current willingness to leave much of environmental policy making to those people who see it as a religious crusade.”

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