Environmentalism as Doctrine
Environmentalism has new clothes. Whereas previous heroes of environmentalism were the likes of agrarian conservationists like Wendell Berry (who strangely today is a hero of the localist right) who advocated for small-scale action of taking care of your local environment. Nineties children remember when they used to be encouraged to pick up litter or recycle. All activities could be undertaken both individually and locally.
Today, environmentalism is almost solely and exclusively focused on climate change. A problem that is both global and totally beyond the field of influence of any one human.
This myopic focus on emissions has its doctrinal preachers. The first household name was Al Gore when the Inconvenient Truth was released. I was in High School at the time and in many subjects (from science and geography) the film was shown to us, students. The film warned that unless we cut our CO2 emissions we were heading for ecological catastrophe.
Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc: it is us. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It
Many of the claims made in the film haven’t come to fruition and others were outright debunked by the High Court in the UK that found that 9 scientific errors had been made by the film:
Mr Justice Barton yesterday said that while the film was "broadly accurate" in its presentation of climate change, he identified nine significant errors in the film, some of which, he said, had arisen in "the context of alarmism and exaggeration" to support the former US vice-president's views on climate change.
Today, the climate change doctrine has its Joan of Arc. It’s child saviour. In the form of teenager Greta Thunberg, which in many ways has a warning that is even direr than Al Gore.
I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is. Greta Thunberg at World Economic Forum, Davos, 24 January 2019,
Her message is also, self-confessedly, black and white. She insists there is no more room to debate about what action should be taken.
They keep saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all. And yet they just carry on like before. If the emissions have to stop then we must stop the emissions. To me, that is black or white…. Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ”solve the climate crisis”. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. Greta Thunberg at Extinction Rebellion Rally, London, October 31, 2018
Greta Thunberg in the quote above lays out exactly - and without euphemism - what the modern environmentalist narrative or ideology is: unless we cut all emissions immediately we will face mass catastrophe.
Notably, this speech was given to an institution - Extinction Rebellion - which provides that organisational structure that turns the climate change narrative preached by Al Gore and now Greta Thunberg into something that could fit the definition of religion.
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