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Thread: The Church of Green

  1. #1
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    The Church of Green

    Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times

    A kind of irrational nature worship separates environmentalism from the more fair-minded approach of conservationism.
    May 20, 2008

    I admit it: I'm no environmentalist. But I like to think I'm something of a conservationist.

    No doubt for millions of Americans this is a distinction without a difference, as the two words are usually used interchangeably. But they're different things, and the country would be better off if we sharpened the distinctions between both word and concept.

    At its core, environmentalism is a kind of nature worship. It's a holistic ideology, shot through with religious sentiment. "If you look carefully," author Michael Crichton famously observed, "you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths."

    Environmentalism's most renewable resources are fear, guilt and moral bullying. Its worldview casts man as a sinful creature who, through the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, abandoned our Edenic past. John Muir, who laid the philosophical foundations of modern environmentalism, described humans as "selfish, conceited creatures." Salvation comes from shedding our sins, rejecting our addictions (to oil, consumerism, etc.) and demonstrating through deeds an all-encompassing love of Mother Earth. Quoth Al Gore: "The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

    I heard Gore on NPR the other day. He was asked what he made of evangelical pastor Joseph Hagee's absurd comment that Hurricane Katrina was God's wrath for New Orleans' sexual depravity. Naturally, Gore chuckled at such backwardness. But then the Nobel laureate went on to blame Katrina on man's energy sinfulness. It struck me that the two men were not so different. If only canoodling residents of the Big Easy had adhered to "The Greenpeace Guide to Environmentally Friendly Sex."

    Environmentalists are keen to insist that their movement is a secular one. But using the word "secular" no more makes you secular than using the word "Christian" automatically means you behave like a Christian. Pioneering green lawyer Joseph Sax, for example, describes environmentalists as "secular prophets, preaching a message of secular salvation." Gore too has often been dubbed a "prophet." It's no surprise that a green-themed California hotel provides Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" right next to the Bible and a Buddhist tome.

    Whether it's adopted the trappings of religion or not, my biggest beef with environmentalism is how comfortably irrational it is. It touts ritual over reality, symbolism over substance, while claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts.

    It often seems that displaying faith in the green cause is more important than advancing the green cause. The U.S. government just put polar bears on the threatened species list because climate change is shrinking the Arctic ice where they live. Never mind that polar bears are in fact thriving -- their numbers have quadrupled in the last 50 years. Never mind that full implementation of the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gases would save exactly one polar bear, according to Danish social scientist Bjorn Lomborg, author of the 2007 book "Cool It!"

    Yet about 300 to 500 polar bears could be saved every year, starting right now, Lomborg says, if there were a ban on hunting them in Canada. What's cheaper, trillions to trim carbon emissions or paying off the Canadians to stop killing polar bears?

    Plastic grocery bags are being banned all over the place, even though they require less energy to make or recycle than paper ones. The whole country is being forced to subscribe to a modern version of transubstantiation, whereby corn is miraculously transformed into sinless energy even as it does worse damage than oil.

    Conservation, which shares roots and meaning with conservatism, stands athwart this mass hysteria. Yes, conservationism can have a religious element to it as well, but that element stems from the biblical injunction to be a good steward of the Earth, rather than a worshiper of it. But stewardship involves economics, not mysticism.

    Economics is the study of choosing between competing goods. Environmentalists view economics as the enemy because cost-benefit analysis is thoroughly unromantic. Lomborg is a heretic because he treats natural-world challenges like economic ones, seeking to spend money where it will maximize good, not just good feelings among environmentalists.

    Many self-described environmentalists are in fact conservationists. But the environmental movement wins battles by blurring this distinction, arguing that all lovers of nature must follow their lead. At the same time, many people open to conservationist arguments, like hunters, are turned off by even reasonable efforts because they do not want to give aid and comfort to "wackos."

    In the broadest sense, the environmental movement has won. Americans are "green" in that they are willing to spend a lot to keep their country ecologically healthy, which it is. But now it's time to save the environment from the environmentalists.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldberg
    I admit it: I'm no environmentalist. But I like to think I'm something of a conservationist.
    He isn't. He's a water carrier for capitalist exploitation, and favors policies that lead to environmental degradation for profit.

    When he's done "conserving" the Boundary Waters, for example, it will be a drain field for heavy metal mining operations.
    Quote Originally Posted by godlberg
    Conservation, which shares roots and meaning with conservatism, stands athwart this mass hysteria. Yes, conservationism can have a religious element to it as well, but that element stems from the biblical injunction to be a good steward of the Earth, rather than a worshiper of it. But stewardship involves economics, not mysticism.
    As Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson and John Muir and a good many other have pointed out, "economics" that cannot include as a cost the destruction of what people are willing to expend great effort and pay good money to have and enjoy is a poor basis for decision.

    And stewardship, as any Christian can tell you, involves "mysticism" rather than economics - in Goldberg's false dichotomy and pejorative labeling.

  3. #3
    Except that nature is proven to exist, and the absense of nature means our doom. I also prefer plastic bags because they can be reused more often and recycled, and it doesn't involve clear cutting of forests.

    Americans are "green" in that they are willing to spend a lot to keep their country ecologically healthy, which it is.
    No it's not. Modern industrial civilization is not sustainable or ecologically healthy.

  4. #4
    IYO sustainable is...Slash and burn agriculture? Travel by stage-coach? burning peat?

    Healthy is giardia, malaria? By all means let us emulate the superb ecological health of sub-saharan Africa. More later...I have to go run some bison off a cliff now to feed my kids.
    Last edited by tomahawk56; 06-04-08 at 01:00 PM. Reason: didn't finish

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk
    IYO sustainable is...Slash and burn agriculture? Travel by stage-coach? burning peat?

    Healthy is giardia, malaria? By all means let us emulate the superb ecological health of sub-saharan Africa.
    Sustainable is sustainable - slash and burn is not, by and large, at current levels - it is a recent innovation that will do itself in shortly in most places. Travel by stagecoach probably is. Burning peat depends on rate and climate.

    Regardless of our difficulty in imagining alternatives, we will be turning to some - what we're doing now is unsustainable, and that's what "unsustainable" means: you have to do something else eventually.

  6. #6
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    It just amazes me how many people swallow this hysterical nonsense of catastrophic collapse of the ecosystem. Are they deaf, dumb, and blind? Or just plain ignorant of even basic science? There is much to be said for conservation and care in daily life, but elevating the environment to the status of deity is obscene. Gore and his ilk know full well that what they are peddling is bunk. But there is an immense amount of money to be made by stampeding the sheep. And beyond the money is the end goal of seizing absolute control of everyone's life. You think not? Control who can make what, where he can make it, and tax him to death for doing so, and you have your hand in every citizens pocket. Cap and trade? More power grabbing BS the entire multi trillion dollar cost of which will come ONLY from the pockets of common citizens because all such taxes will merely be passed along to the end user as they always have been. So when you hear "tax the oil companies", for example, what you need to understand is that what is meant is "direct and regulate your life by means of confiscatory taxes"

  7. #7
    Registered Senior Member Cazzo's Avatar
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    Heil Gore ! (and the "human caused" Global Warming modern enviro-Nazi movment)


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    Except that nature is proven to exist, and the absense of nature means our doom.

    The absence of nature cannot destroy us, because death is a force greater than nature.

  9. #9
    That makes no sense.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    That makes no sense.

    That's laughable, considering you were the guy who said "we were never born, so we can never die."


    Are you indulging in solipsism at our expense?

    Nature did not create itself, and, therefore, cannot be the cause of our deaths.

  11. #11
    Nature did create itself.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    Nature did create itself.

    If nature created itself, why does it die?

  13. #13
    It will go on without us, but it's not immune from environmental disasters, extinction, and collapse of ecosystems. The only reason life still exists here is that deep underground, there are bacteria that are isolated from any major catastrophe that has happened on the surface.

  14. #14
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    The greatest environmentalists will NOT be protesters from greenpeace.

    They will be engineers sweating it out in labs trying to develop better batteries.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by J. Goldberg
    Economics is the study of choosing between competing goods. Environmentalists view economics as the enemy because cost-benefit analysis is thoroughly unromantic.
    Economics is also the poorly-defined science of exploitation of resources. Economists view environmentalism as the enemy, because the almost total lack of accounting for the environmental costs of resource exploitation reveals Economics as a thoroughly unbalanced point of view, or "science". It's not all that romantic either.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    It will go on without us, but it's not immune from environmental disasters, extinction, and collapse of ecosystems.

    But nature will die, albeit slowly, over a very long period of time. Unlike our deaths as individuals, which are an abrupt transition from consciousness into nonexistence.

  17. #17
    Over a long period of time? One hopes so, but this is by no means guaranteed.

  18. #18
    Ever notice how quickly a "greenie" will leave facts and criticism aside and attack you for asking a question or pointing out a weakness in an argument ? The ad hominem attacks become a substitute for discussion, a way out of the impasse of having to face the truth of their irrationality.

    How anyone can believe that the Earth System, nature if you will, can be facing disaster because of humans ? This is silly IMO. Nature extinguishes some 25 species every day as I have been told. This "climate crisis" fear will be forgotten in a few years just as acid rain, the ozone hole, planet ice age and population disaster fears were in the last 25 years.

  19. #19
    Many civilizations have died out due to environmental disaster, it's not irrational to be concerned about this, especially considering how shitty we treat nature. We are in the midst of a mass extinction event brought about by humans, the evidence is overwhelming.

  20. #20
    Valued Senior Member Simon Anders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    Except that nature is proven to exist, and the absense of nature means our doom. I also prefer plastic bags because they can be reused more often and recycled, and it doesn't involve clear cutting of forests.
    .
    Cloth bags last for years.

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