Monday, February 12, 2007

Save Our Souls

David Warren had some thoughts Saturday on the theme of environmentalism as bad religion raised in our previous post by Charles. Warren begins by quoting Alvara Vargas Llosa:
“For half a century, Western guilt made the lives of the poor even worse by propping up despots and corrupt bureaucracies through foreign aid. A new form of Western guilt, environmental fundamentalism, is making the lives of the poor even worse in Mexico after triggering a huge rise in the price of corn -- the chief component of the tortilla -- thanks to a government-induced increase in the demand for ethanol in the United States.”
Warren adds:
Ethanol was, and is likely to remain, one of those cosmetic products, that masks our abject dependency on hydrocarbons, by creating an illusory association with lush fields.
The screwing of the world's poor, as the (dare we say, unintended) consequence of the environmental movement is something many Canadians, in all their evil niceness, like to forget. What, for example, do we think the world's poor will do if their nations trade away their carbon credits under some Kyoto-like emission reduction plan? In many cases, they will return from cities or hopes of joining the modern world to the destructive slash and burn agriculture and the chimney-less miserable hovels that Dag often talks about.

In any case, misanthropic human-blamed global warming fears are either over-stated (as we noted here) or they are going to turn us into a bunch of millenarian hysterics who can't think straight and adapt to the climate change that has always been a part of our planet's natural history.

For example, David Suzuki thinks it's "wonderful" that, according to a pollster, 72 percent of British Columbians "believe life as we know it will end in another two or three generations unless drastic and immediate action is taken to curb global warming." Why is this wonderful news to Suzuki? Because it allows him to "[urge] individual Canadians to "start screaming at our politicians" to effect the changes we need to stop climate change, both federally and provincially..."If 72 per cent of British Columbians are alarmed about this, then that is a huge kick in the ass for politicians," Suzuki said."

But there is nothing wonderful about mass depression and apocalyptic screaming. Does anyone really think that people who think our way of life is doomed, that we must make radical changes, make for the kind of people with whom we can reasonably adapt to any climate changes without destroying the social and economic order, the consumer society, that has evolved historically to keep us from continually being at war with each other? Is it human or societal self-hatred, or respect, that is necessary for people to come together and forge new covenants, to take control of their lives and change in tandem with others? To my mind, what Suzuki thinks wonderful is a sign of people who have given their sovereign authority to rule themselves to the guilt mongering of gnostic demagogues who know that to garner attention for one's own career and celebrity as world saviour in the postmodern age, it is necessary to play a victimary game, to claim the centre of attention in the name of a victim; and there is no victim greater than Mother Earth. By the way, Suzuki has recently been promoted within the Order of Canada, showing that those in charge of the nation's highest honours think his work is wonderful, or at least they recognize it is in the interests of their elite bureaucratic class to pretend to do so, for they, not the producing and consuming and exchanging and gifting masses, not shopping, not God, are the real saviours in the secular "expert", study-writing, logic of our times.

Expanding the theme of environmentalism as mass murder, Warren moves on to Rachel Carson and her campaign to ban DDT:
The claims made in Carson’s book proved laughably false -- though few people today realize this, and Carson herself remains a canonized saint of the environmental movement.
Much of that book may even have been knowingly false. Not that Carson herself would have intended any evil: for she was sincerely convinced DDT was the secular equivalent of “the work of the devil”. Her faith in that idea could therefore justify any “pious fraud”. Her love of nature, so articulately communicated, was perfectly sincere. Yet in a sense one could say that, “Rachel Carson killed millions.”

Over the years after, quite literally, tens of millions of people died, all over the underdeveloped world, from epidemics that could easily have been prevented by DDT spraying. It is a shocking fact that to this day, the environmental movement has not acknowledged that reality, let alone accepted responsibility for it. It is a faith-based movement, a kind of religion, and much of its power comes from its ability not merely to deny, but to ignore, the rational consequences of the actions it advocates.

I say, “a kind of religion”, because genuine religions are much more responsible, and more inclined to learn from their own mistakes over time. In Christianity, especially, reason has always been granted an exalted place -- and on theological, not empirical grounds. The environmentalist credo is a crass parody of the Christian cosmological scheme. It postulates a primitive Eden that never existed (our tribal ancestors were in fact violent and immensely destructive of ecology), the sinful works of industrial man, and a return to grace through environmental action. It demonizes its apostates. The parody is more elaborate than that, but I sketch these chief points to make clear that we are dealing with an outlook on life that is based on faith, and excludes reason. I am hardly the first writer to notice it.

We are in the earlier stages today of a worldwide population crash, that was largely triggered by environmentalist fears about “overpopulation”. By mastering the arts of propaganda, and using the leveraged power of United Nations agencies, incalculable damage was done not only to the planet’s demographic order, but to the moral structure of family life in country after country. All on the basis of the Malthusian faith encapsulated in Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 tract, The Population Bomb. A book that predicted inevitable planetary famine in the 1970s and ’80s, thanks to rising population and falling food supplies. A crackpot book, but nevertheless, another of the founding scriptural texts of today’s environmentalist religion.

I have limited space: we could go on and on. But in light of environmentalist demands that we take precipitate, gargantuan steps to “solve” the “problem” of “climate change”, it is important to remember just how much carnage the movement has already wreaked. Far more than the most fanatical Muslim ever dreamed.
And then, in an article yesterday, Warren continues his march with an attack on the global-warming high priests and propagandists of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and on the credulous journalistic profession that, in most cases, has lost the means critically to analyze what "the scientists" are saying, what they really know and don't know. (Well here is one journalist who sees through the IPCC's corruption of science, even as he believes in man-made global warming, to some degree.) Warren concludes with a similar analysis of today's scientific profession:
So far as I can make out, there has been similar “progress” in the scientific world. The academic researcher, like the broadsheet beat reporter, was once a rather grey man who feared overstatement, but could give you a straight answer to a straight question, even if it was, “I don’t know.” The best were (in both cases), broadly grounded. That is, a researcher in some arcane area of, say, climatology, would have a good general science background, including the history required to contextualize his own work. He was therefore not naive.

The decay of standards is not subtle. The academic science world, persisting on tax money, has been intellectually flatlining. It becomes increasingly a closed camp of ideologues whose job security depends on their avoidance of apostasy. In a word, science is being swamped by an almost religious scientism. Whereas serious, open-minded research has retreated almost entirely into the corporate research labs, where a different ethos prevails.

This is the environmental scare that should worry us. That we are becoming, increasingly, the prey of sensationalism in the service of scientism.
I agree. The only way we are going to save ourselves and our potential victims around the world from the evils of our often misapplied sense of guilt is to renew the humanistic and covenantal disciplines that can provide the mix of reason and faith that our times demand of us. I am not a Christian; but as I was telling my Covenant Zone colleagues at our meeting last week, the present Pope impresses me for the way he mixes reason and faith, keeping the doors open to the endless new possibilities of the future, even within a religious fold premised on an eventual apocalypse and a return of Christ whose message, regarding our nature and violent sins, many would presume already to know, having read the Book of Revelation, David Suzuki, or some such. Human cultural and environmental change is unending; shouldn't that mean our theology, or its secular substitutes, must remain open-ended, non-millennial too?

No comments: