"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Environmentalism–The New Religion

I have been living in one of the most conservative regions of the country for the past few months, and I have become familiar with absolutism – the a priori acceptance of Biblical truth and the rejection of logical analysis.  There is no room in this belief system for anything but traditional marriage, faith in Jesus Christ, and Creation.  A majority of people do not believe in Evolution, look at the fossil record and dismiss it, and believe that it is the hand of God, not Man which is guiding history. Since religion is so important in people’s lives, and because logic plays no part in belief, then it is easy to slide into the illogic of  political absolutism

Washington and its liberal claque of materialists, say many - gays, feminists, atheists, and secular humanists – are out to destroy the rest of the country; and one by one secular issues are incorporated into a faith-based world view. Abortion is wrong because it violates injunctions against the taking of life.  Gay marriage because is a perversion of the Old Testament and its clear enunciation of a patriarchal hierarchy and patrilineage. It runs counter to God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply”, and to the very example of the Holy Family.

Obama socialism is designed to inhibit if not destroy the individual liberty necessary for the expression of religious belief, and the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution to allow citizens to defend themselves against the godless depredations of the minority.

The lines between political commitment and religious belief are easily crossed.  If a religious fundamentalist believes that his core values are being threatened on many fronts, then a holy alliance among NRA members, radical Pro-Life activists, political homophobes, and the Tea Party is an appropriate coalition.  All are fighting for a different cause; but all are fighting for the same principle – keeping an insidious, evil secular government at bay.

The environmental movement is no different.  It believes in the sanctity of Mother Earth which, was at the center of many ancient pagan religions.  Mother Earth is Gaya, a sensate organism with a life of its own.  She reacts to pain, to rape and mutilation and sheds the tears of Jesus Christ who asked in disbelief at the evil of Mankind,  “My God, my God.  Why have You forsaken me?”.  Environmentalism is not a secular movement, dealing only with atmospheric computer models, the delicate measurement of ultra-violet light penetrating the ever-thinning ozone layer, the build-up of toxic and nuclear waste, fracking, and clear-cutting.  It is a religious movement with a profoundly spiritual core.  It is no more fractured by the various issues confronting it or by its multiple enemies than religious fundamentalism.  Whether one joins the fight for clean water, clean air, toxic waste clean-up, alternative energy, or forest preservation, the fight is for Mother Earth, the preservation of her sanctity.

In a recent article in the New York Times (3.5.13),Joe Nocera writes about James Hansen, the Director of the Goddard Institute of NASA who has frequently and persistently sounded alarms about global environmental disaster:

What people hear from Hansen today is not so much his science but his broad, unscientific views on, say, the evils of oil companies. In 2008, he wrote a paper, the thesis of which was that runaway climate change would occur when carbon in the atmosphere reached 350 parts per million — a point it had already exceeded — unless it were quickly reduced. There are many climate change experts who disagree with this judgment — who believe that the 350 number is arbitrary and even meaningless. Yet an entire movement, 350.org, has been built around Hansen’s line in the sand.

Responding to a column of Nocera’s with which he disagreed, Hansen fired off an email to him which typically contained “apocalyptic pronouncements” such as “the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed.”

What concerns Nocera is the fact that a respected scientist has crossed the line between logical scientific inquiry and quasi-religious belief.  This is not surprising, and is indicative of how faith-based the environmental movement has become.  If one truly believes that global warming is not just a scientific phenomenon caused by combination of natural climate cycles and the intervention of Man, but an assault on holy Mother Earth, then distortion, hyperbole, and subjectivity can and should be employed to reach the objective of restoring Mother Earth to sanctity.

What is problematic about this phenomenon is that if belief rather than reason propels the environmental movement, and logic is lost, then each of the individual and legitimate fights may be badly corrupted, discredited, and derailed. The wild, animal howling about the XL Pipeline is certainly not called for when looking at the environmental-energy balance sheet; nor is fracking or the exploitation of oil shale or sands.  Clear-cutting may be a brutal assault on the environment for a hiker high up in the Crazies of Montana, but taken collectively, it does not represent a corporate raid on the entire American forest.

Worse is the co-opting of non-environmental issues within the environmental movement.  Wall Street is the demon orchestrating the rape of Mother Earth; and it is the cabal of Right Wing, fundamentalist, selfish individualists who are deflecting ‘progressive’ programs to harmonize and perfect the world.   Environmentalists get wackier and wackier the more they open their religious doors to all comers.  Environmentalism has lost its focus in the miasma of illogical belief.  The crazies are taking over, and crowds of demonstrators against a coal-burning power station might well include Occupy Wall Street activists, Pro-Choice campaigners, and anti-gun citizen lobbyists.

Those more reasonable environmentalists will argue that such passion and religious-type fervor is necessary to achieve laudable and important ends.  The ends justify the means, they say.  This is disingenuous and dangerous thinking. Illogic, unthinking and irrational fervor always lead to bad ends. It is bad enough that the majority of Americans reject Evolution and take the Bible as the word of God; but it is far worse to turn a legitimate secular cause into a wacko, fringe, movement of crazies.

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