The View From 1776
Sunday, December 10, 2006
As British historian Paul Johnson noted some while ago, among the Western educated classes Judeo-Christian values are being replaced by pagan worship of environmentalism and other forms of scientism.
Many people have been mis-educated to believe that any program called environmentalism must, by definition, be a good thing. A major shortcoming in this blind worship is that environmentalists seldom analyze the full array of costs entailed in their projects, many of which at first glance appear to be good ideas.
Ethanol production is an example. Without government subsidies to farmers and to ethanol producers, ethanol would be too expensive in this country to compete with petroleum-based fuels. Worse, the combined energy needed to raise the additional corn and to refine it actually increases the need for imported fuel, requiring approximately 1.7 gallons of gasoline to produce every gallon of ethanol. Even a socialistic source like Harvard Magazine in its November-December 2006 edition ran an article headlined The Ethanol Illusion: Can we move beyond an energy policy running on hype and hot air?
Two items highlight the all too frequent sanctimonious religiosity of environmentalism.
The first item is a letter from the Spectator.UK , which Tom Emerson emailed to me.
The second item, following the letter, is a representative article by New York Times columnist John Tierney. Mr. Tierney for some years wrote a column uncovering the looney aspects of liberalism in New York City. He was deservedly promoted to the Times’s Washington bureau, where he now authors one of the Times’s major op-ed columns.
The following letter was printed in this week’s Spectator.UK.
The green gospel
Sir: I read the article by Allister Heath (?It?s a wonderful world: richer, healthier and cleaner than ever?, 2 December) with interest. The author is correct to point out that the optimism of Indur Goklany?s book will be drowned out by the doom-mongering of the environmentalist lobby. I believe that the reason for this is simple.
Environmentalism is the new religion of the Western world. It has replaced the scientific secularism of Marxism/socialism, which itself replaced monotheism when this began to be discredited by Darwinism.
This Earth worship has all the hallmarks of Christianity, which is why it is so easily accepted by the non-church-attending masses. Just as the Roman empire discovered, when the masses have embraced a religion the state has to follow, and it is doing so with a vengeance.
Consider this: the ejection from Eden and original sin are replaced in environmentalism by the transformation of the largely agricultural economy by the Industrial Revolution into a polluting hell on earth. The Ten Commandments of this new faith are the injunctions to lead a greener lifestyle. We have Armageddon replaced by the cataclysm of global warming. True salvation is achieved by going green ? recycling wherever possible and driving an economical car. Sinners are the people who drive 4x4s, and the Second Coming becomes an age of total use of sustainable resources and de-industrialisation when we may return to the pastoral age we abandoned.
The religion has its own church and prophets, represented by unelected and unaccountable groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, whose words are accepted as gospel. It has its militants, who picket power stations and destroy farming and other businesses with which they do not agree. Their theology precludes all forms of industry as we understand it and results in the ignorant persecution of the innocent. We saw this with the Brent Spar affair, where the dumping of a redundant oil platform caused boycotts and demonstrations despite the fact that the environmental impact of the operation was minimal.
Of course, in this new age, what Allister Heath wrote will be seen as heresy. It remains to be seen how this new Church treats its heretics.
Paul T. Horgan
February 15, 2002
New York Times
Rethinking the Rites of Recycling
By JOHN TIERNEY
Environmentalists may not like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to suspend the recycling of cans and bottles. But it could be their best chance to save their reputations and do some good for the environment.
The recycling program was sold to New Yorkers nearly a decade ago with the promise that it would save money. It did not. If New York had instead shipped all those recyclables to out-of-state landfills, the city would have saved more than half a billion dollars, and that figure doesn’t even include the biggest costs, which are the labor and storage space that citizens are forced to donate to the cause.
Recycling newspapers makes a certain amount of sense, because used newsprint often has economic value and people often have special bins for their newspapers anyway. But why clutter the city with bins for stuff that’s less than worthless? The city pays extra to collect and dispose of the bottles and cans, and then 40 percent of the stuff ends up in landfills anyway.
....Recycling has become a sacrament of atonement for buying too much stuff ? for secretly loving stuff too much, as James B. Twitchell explains in “Lead Us Into Temptation,” a study of consumer passions. “While we claim to be wedded to responsible consumption,” he writes, “we spend a lot of our time philandering. Trash is lipstick on the collar, the telltale blond hair.” Recycling is our way of saying, “I’m sorry, honey.”
Sinners have every right to repent, but in this country religious sacraments are not supposed to be legally mandated or publicly subsidized. Recycling bottles and cans next year would cost taxpayers more than $50 million. Why don’t its devotees find another ritual of atonement that might help the environment and save the city money?
SUPPOSE that all the time and money spent exhorting children and adults to recycle were spent instead urging each New Yorker to pick up one piece of litter each day. Millions of pieces of trash would disappear; street-cleaning bills would plummet.