Way back in 1982 American sociologist Robert Nisbet remarked that environmentalism has become the third great redemptive movement in human history, following Christianity and Marxism. Indeed it already has its notions of sin, guilt and redemption, its sacred texts and venerated leaders. And like all false religions, radical environmentalism has its share of zealots.
This in part is what Nisbet said about environmentalism in his book Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary: “‘From the Gospel of Capitalist Efficiency to the Gospel of Utopianism’ would serve very well as subtitle here. It is entirely possible that when the history of the twentieth century is finally written, the single most important social movement of the period will be judged to be environmentalism. Beginning early in the century as an effort by a few far-seeing individuals in America to bring about the prudent use of natural resources in the interest of extending economic growth as far into the future as possible, the environmentalist cause has become today almost a mass movement, its present objective little less than the transformation of government, economy, and society in the interest of what can only be properly called the liberation of nature from human exploitation.
“Environmentalism is now well on its way to becoming the third great wave of redemptive struggle in Western history, the first being Christianity, the second modern socialism. In its way, the dream of a perfect physical environment has all the revolutionary potential that lay both in the Christian vision of mankind redeemed by Christ and in the socialist, chiefly Marxian, prophecy of mankind freed from social injustice.”
Now, thirty years on, this is even far more true. Radical environmentalism has become a pseudo-religion, and this has wide-ranging consequences. Consider three recent news items which clearly speak to this. The first has to do with how “climate change” has become an article of religious belief, and facts and evidence need not get in the way of devotion to the cause.
One news article covers the story as follows: “A global lobby group has distributed a ‘spin sheet’ encouraging its 300 member organisations to emphasise the link between climate change and extreme weather events, despite uncertainties acknowledged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. An ‘action pack’ distributed by Global Campaign for Climate Action said members ‘shouldn’t be afraid to make the connection’, despite the sometimes low level of confidence in the official documents of the IPCC.
“The action pack, which was produced to coincide with the release of the latest full IPCC report into the link between climate change and extreme weather events, rekindled claims that overstating the case damaged the credibility of the science. ‘What this leaked document shows is again we have groups out there promoting more extreme situations than the report actually warrants because the latest report shows there are degrees of uncertainty,’ said Institute of Public Affairs climate spokesman Tim Wilson. ‘When the claims don’t correlate it undermines the confidence that people can actually have in climate science’.”
Of course this is not the first time the climate alarmists have been caught out playing fast and loose with the truth. And if there is one thing the true believers cannot stand, it is the existence of doubters. Anyone who dares to question the claims of the alarmists is seen as public enemy number one.
But don’t take my word for it. Consider this very frightening report: “Comparing skepticism of man-made global warming to racist beliefs, an Oregon-based professor of sociology and environmental studies has labeled doubts about anthropogenic climate change a ‘sickness’ for which individuals need to be ‘treated’.
“Professor Kari Norgaard, who is currently appearing at the ‘Planet Under Pressure’ conference in London, has presented a paper in which she argues that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting the premise that humans are responsible for climate change ‘must be recognized and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behavior.
“Norgaard equates scepticism of climate change alarmists – whose data is continually proven to be politicized, agenda driven and downright inaccurate – with racism, noting that overcoming such viewpoints poses a similar challenge ‘to racism or slavery in the U.S. South’.”
Wow, talk about radicals who see all sceptics as enemies to be harshly dealt with. But this is not just all theoretical. When the radical activists get their way and get into power, we all can suffer in very practical ways. Those who fall victim to the green totalitarianism pay a very big price indeed.
Consider this story which has just come out of the UK. It demonstrates quite clearly that when green hysteria takes on religious proportions, it means ordinary men and women will suffer big time. An article in the English press begins this way:
“An elderly woman was ordered to find a new GP because the ‘carbon footprint’ of her two-mile round trips to the surgery where she had been treated for 30 years was too large. Avril Mulcahy, 83, was told to address the ‘green travelling issues’ over her journeys from her home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, to the West Road Surgery. The surgery wrote to Mrs Mulcahy, telling her to register with a new GP within 28 days.
“The letter said: ‘Our greatest concern is for your health and convenience but also taking into consideration green travelling issues. Re: Carbon footprints and winter weather conditions, we feel it would be advisable for patients to register at surgeries nearer to where they live. We would be very grateful if you could make the necessary arrangements to re-register at another practice.’
“Mrs Mulcahy, a grandmother, believes the decision was made because she complained about a doctor. ‘When I read through the letter, I found it absolutely ridiculous they were saying the reason was to decrease their carbon footprint,’ she said. ‘I have been a patient at the practice for 30 years now, and there has never been any problem. To be treated like this, just because I live too far away or for what I feel is a reaction to my complaint, is disgraceful. It feels like they are just coming up with an excuse to get rid of me’.”
The green jackboots are out, stomping on anyone who will not comply with the tenets of the new green religion – even 83-year-old grandmothers. This is but one example of how radical green ideology is resulting in a new tyranny and the smothering of human freedom.
Environmental concern is always a good thing, if not taken to extremes and turned into a humanistic religion. But sadly we are now seeing that happen all over the Western world. As Nisbet warned three decades ago, this will only result in ugly coercive utopianism – all in the name of saving the planet of course.