Thursday, July 27, 2006

Environmentalism, it should be classed as a religion

Environmentalism seems to be converting what are legitimate concerns into some all-purpose cult like religion. It's fast becoming the supreme source and standard of all values in human day-to-day life. Humanity, does in fact, face a very real threat in the future, but, it's not from the melting polar ice-caps, or from too many hurricanes. The danger isn't from the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, nor is it from planetary levels of CO2, or global warming - the threat comes from environmentalism itself.

What are the fundamental goals of environmentalism? Is it a project to advance human health and life? Why has nature become valued above humanity, and why is the natural world worshipped like some kind of primitive religion? Environmentalists loathing of the industrial world, and of the technological and scientific revolutions, demonstrates perfectly their contempt for humanity. Otherwise, they would welcome and support the technological and scientific achievements that have eradicated pestilence, famine and diseases that had plagued humanity before the Industrial Revolution.

When environmentalists talk about 'sustainability', what exactly are they talking about? What does sustainability really mean? In reality, and in social terms, it actually means satsis, an abnormal state of inactivity, to sustain oneself you need to stand still, to not make great stride forwards, to not make progress - because, at the end of the day, what exactly is the ideal world for the environmentalist? It's certainly not 21st-century Western civilisation that's for sure - it's more like the Garden of Eden, or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Environmentalism is being forced down our throats like never before. According to one well known climatologist, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, a bishop in the Church of England, those who do not repent at his altar of global warming righteousness, are deemed not holy enough for his forgiveness. Indeed, the wrath of the mighty and holy church (of environmentalism) will be bought to bare against the sinners who have the termerity to go 'flying on holiday or buy a large car'. Imagine having the bare face cheek to go on holiday, or to buy a 4x4? Global warming is no longer even a scientific issue these days, as Rev Chartres argues, we "stand before God’s judgment on these matters."

7 Comments:

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Matt M said...

I've been meaning to do a post for my own blog on environmentalism for a while now - as its probably going to be ages before that happens I'll try and put my ideas into some sort of shape here.

The problems arise when the environment becomes some kind of fetish for people - normally they regard human beings as inherently wicked while nature is pure and good. The strength of this belief varies - in its extreme form I think its found in only a small number of people. However, a diluted version of it might be quite wide-spread. I've had long (admittedly often drink-fuelled) arguments with people who, despite being otherwise quite progressive, have criticised something as "unnatural" - for me the distinction is a shallow one as human beings are rooted in the natural world. Suggesting we're able to commit an unnatural act seeks to divorce us from nature somehow - a view which has its roots in the religious view of the world, in my opinion. A modern, progressive, humanistic view of the world rejects the natural / unnatural distinction and looks instead at what is harmful and what is beneficial. Its more than possible to "love" nature, but you have to accept it warts (or human beings) and all.

I think we also have to realise that just because something damages part of the natural world its not necessarily bad - you could use the anology of forest fires, which, despite causing immense damage, are essential for clearing away foliage and allowing the next generation of it to grow. Human actions are often like those fires: short-term damage can lead to something more positive in the long-term. However, again as with the fires, they can do more harm than good when allowed to get out of control.

Sustainable action is to be supported - as the alternative, unsustainable action, is the road to disaster. But sustainability doesn't mean things should stay the same. Building sustainable cities means radically changing the landscape - but in ways designed to ensure long-term quality of life.

Sorry: I realise I've just dumped down a series of quite rambling thoughts with, at best, a weak central thesis. What I'm trying to say, and hope to say better sometime soon, is that sustainability isn't the problem - in fact its vital - but it's when a concern for the environment (or its impact on us) becomes a fetish that we get problems.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Matt M said...

I see you're experimenting with the blog layout - watch out, it can become quite addictive when you get the hang of it. :-)

If you want any tips or have any questions feel free to email me. Bear in mind that I've only progressed to tinkering a little.

mattmurrell[at]googlemail[dot]com

 
At 8:35 PM, Blogger Matt M said...

I see you're experimenting with the blog layout - watch out, it can become quite addictive when you get the hang of it. :-)

If you want any tips or have any questions feel free to email me. Bear in mind that I've only progressed to tinkering a little.

mattmurrell[at]googlemail[dot]com

 
At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

Do you not care about the Environment and what we are doing to it and the propsects for future generations Courtney?

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

Sorry Courtney, this is completely off topic - but do you know where and when this 'book burning'(you mentioned it on my blog) is due to take place?

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Lucy,

Don't get me wrong here, I'm as concerned about the environment as anybody else, I don't want to walk around Old Street, up to my neck in dropped litter - but, if you ask me, much of our worst pollution problems have been solved. For example, Britain's waterway are cleaner now than they've ever been since the Industrial Revolution. The Thames River has more speicies of fish in it than ever before, even salmon have been spotted swimming in the Thames.

In many way's, we are making the environment better than it was before.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1638387.stm

As for 'the propsects for future generations', I truely belive that future generations will be in a far, far better position to deal and adapt with any environmental problems they might face. They will also be far, far richer than we are today, so they will be able to cope financially much better with any mpending ecological disaster that may come along - in the same way as we are far richer than past generations of even 50 years ago, let alone 100 year ago.

Matt,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments - like I said to you before, if my blog looks half as good as your by the end of the year I'd be a very happy man.

Haven't enough time right now to deal with some of the important points you made above, but I'll leave you with this quote:

""The recent environmental debate has been characterised [sic] by an obsession with two phrases: sustainable development and the precautionary principle. Wilfred Beckerman ("Small is Stupid", Duckworth Press, 1995) argues that sustainable development is not a functional concept: we do not know what people in the future will like, so we cannot make decisions for them. Sustainable development is completely amorphous and could be used to justify almost any policy. However, just as classical liberals have been forced to engage in the 'welfare' debate, it seems inevitable that we shall have to engage ourselves in the sustainability debate, because sustainable development seems to have captured the imagination of the intellectual class. The challenge, then, is to provide consequentialist [sic] arguments in favour [sic] of environmental protection being based on the principles of a free society"

http://www.westga.edu/~bquest/2004/development.htm

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

"The problems arise when the environment becomes some kind of fetish for people - normally they regard human beings as inherently wicked while nature is pure and good. The strength of this belief varies - in its extreme form I think its found in only a small number of people."

It's very difficult to describe how some people may feel about the ideas surrounding environmentalism. You, for example, talk of a 'kind of fetish' that some have adopted when discussing environmental issues. To a certain extent, this is true. For example, that well known climatologist, Rev Al Gore, talks about climate change in the most apocalyptic terms possible. He's even named his new major film 'An inconvenient truth', which in my mind takes this kind of ecological 'fetish' to new heights.

See: http://www.climatecrisis.net/

"In its extreme form I think its found in only a small number of people."

This is true again - but, I think that this group of people are becoming more and more influential throughout society. Witness Lucy's (above) near outrage at the thought that I might have some reservations about the project of environmentalism. It's as if your either a environmentalist, or your immoral, and in that moral trajectory, there's no room for reason or scientific enquiry.

Environmentalism is fast becoming more like a moral obligation, rather than the more traditional political affiliation that we know of parties, unions ect...

"I think we also have to realise that just because something damages part of the natural world its not necessarily bad"

This makes me think of fridges and air-conditioners - one of the greatest inventions of human history is being frowned upon by European environmentalists, all because they are electrical appliances that consume the most amount of energy in a home. The US, from Miami to LA would be inhabitable without such an invention - indeed, air-con might release more CO2 than any other electrical appliance, but, with tempertures well into 40C (100F) in California this past week, it's been saving hundreds of lives as we speak. With a population of some 33m people, 130 deaths due to the Californian heatwave proves that something that can damage the environment is not always a bad thing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5223172.stm#top

I remember having this debate with you, back in late 2004 (if my memory serves me right), about the conundrum of air-con v's climate change on openDemoracy. I argued, if air-con had been available to the people of France back in 2003, as it is the US, we would not have seen as many human fatalities as we did. I still believe to this day, that if the globe is warming, then we will have to make air-con universal.

"Sustainable action is to be supported - as the alternative, unsustainable action, is the road to disaster. But sustainability doesn't mean things should stay the same. Building sustainable cities means radically changing the landscape - but in ways designed to ensure long-term quality of life."

That all sounds pretty fair enough to me, but, in practice, it often means opposing all manner of development. From building new roads to ease conjeston, to the building of state-of-the-art hospitals, is often opposed precisely because it will radically change the immeadiate landscape. Take for instance a new campaign on Columbia Road in Shoreditch to oppose the building of a brand new 15 storey high hospital. We need that hospital, it should go without saying, but, why would anyone want to oppose a new hospital - maybe, it could be because it'll be a sky-scraper, and anything that looks like a giant glass and steel tower must be 'unsustainable'. It's not exactly being built on 'green belt land', it's being built on top of slum dwelling from what I could see. So why the opposition and hostility to building a new hospital?

I look forward to seeing a post from you on the subject, should be very interesting indeed - a defense of sustainablity, or, as one of my favourite development writers call it 'sustainababble'. Ok... I thought it was amusing at the time, many your defense might in fact persuade me to think otherwise.

On a different note - I should be thanking you for all the help you gave me in starting up this blog - I know what you mean about this blogging 'bug', it just seems that the potential for it to grow is unlimited - I think group blogs are most certainly the way forward. I think what your doing at Fisking Central is a great little contribution to the sea of media and blog outlets.

 

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