The Corner

Environmentalism as Religion

There’s nothing very new about the idea that environmentalism (in at least some of its forms) is evolving into a form of religion. After all, it’s over ten years since Harvey Mansfield described it as ‘school prayer for liberals’. Following that logic, a blind faith in the direst consequences of global warming fits nicely into the apocalyptic traditions of many religions. Ragnarok? The Last Judgment? An Inconvenient Truth? Take your pick.

It may, alas, be necessary to pay some lip service to this new religion, but lip service is all it should be. Dealing with the real problems that there are (or may be) will require something else, the adoption of an environmentalism of doubt, questioning, skeptical and incrementalist. Above all, there must be a willingness to shove back against the worst of the nonsense that’s now being preached.

Here, via the Daily Telegraph is Nigel Lawson, Mrs. Thatcher’s legendary finance minister, doing just that:

“One useful thing Lord Lawson does is to examine what the IPCC is actually saying in the small print of its latest report, as compared with the wilder exaggerations favoured by the Stern Review and Al Gore. “If you look at the IPCC’s detailed predictions, on such issues as food and water shortages, sea-level rise and health, they paint nothing like the catastrophe we are made familiar with by the media. A maximum sea-level rise of 23in over 100 years hardly compares with the 20ft predicted by Mr Gore’s film.”Indeed, from the IPCC’s predictions,” he says, “we can calculate that the upshot of this great disaster facing the world might be that our great-grandchildren, instead of being slightly more than 4.8 times as well off as we are, would be only 4.7 times as well off.’…He goes on to contrast some of the crazier predictions on such matters as the melting of polar ice or the shifting of the Gulf Stream with the much less alarmist views of genuine experts in these fields – showing how the “threat from which the planet must be saved” has been almost laughably exaggerated.

So what then should we do about it? Lord Lawson discusses the familiar implausibility of reaching any worldwide agreement on massive cuts in CO2, when developing countries such as China and India cannot see why they should be denied the hope of emulating the living standards of the West.He similarly dismisses the futility of most of the techniques being proposed to “mitigate” those emissions, from “cap-and-trade” schemes to reliance on biofuels, which “even the most zealous environmentalists now realise do far more environmental damage than anything they might seek to cure”.

As for “such feelgood measures as driving a hybrid car or not leaving our television sets on standby, in this context they are trivial to the point of irrelevance”.”Our politicians,” he says, “need to be honest with the people. If they believe that we need to cut back drastically on carbon dioxide emissions today, at considerable cost and disruption to our way of life, because there is a remote risk of major disaster some time in the distant future, they should make the case explicitly in those terms.

“Lord Lawson closes on a note that others of us have struck in trying to puzzle out the deeper reasons for this great climate panic. He recognises that in many ways the global warming ideology has filled the vacuum left by the collapse of Marxism: “Green is the new red.”He sees parallels with the apocalyptic visions held out by certain religious movements in the past. He is alarmed by the fanatical intolerance shown by many believers in global warming to any heretic who dares question their certainties.

He ends by describing “the new religion of global warming” as “the Da Vinci Code of environmentalism. It is a great story and a best-seller. It contains a grain of truth and a mountain of nonsense.”We have entered,” he says, “a new age of unreason, which threatens to be as economically harmful as it is disquieting. It is from this, above all, that we really do need to save the planet.”

And when it comes to mountains of nonsense, bishops, like Marxists, are rarely far from the peak. Here right on cue is the Rt. Rev. Gordon Mursell, the Anglican Bishop of Stafford, busy comparing those who refuse to “face the truth about climate change” with Josef Fritzl, the monstrous Austrian who has recently been so much in the news.

Oh dear.


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