Reflections on Earth Day and Environmentalism as Religion

As we approach another “Earth Day” our thoughts turn to “The Environment,” not “our environment” but “The Environment.” Such emphasis implies to me that “The Environment” has taken on a religious quality: we must do right by “The Environment.”

Do you know the difference between right and wrong? How do you know? Upon what principles do you base your judgment? In this age of politically-correct, moral relativism, many of us think that many others don’t know the difference, or, at the very least, are operating on a different system of moral justification. Does the end justify the means, and is the end itself justifiable? Let’s review, very briefly, the theories of what is right.

There are four general theories used to justify the rules for civil society, one religious and three secular.

All religions, aside from their various creeds and rituals, have two common characteristics. They attempt to explain the origin of the world and man, and they attempt to provide justification for a system of ethics and social mores. The first characteristic has provided many interesting stories; the second has often led to trouble and intolerance. Religious doctrine has been used to justify the “divine right of kings” and to support systems which give little respect to or cognizance of individual rights.

The first of the secular systems, Natural Law theory, supposes that there are certain principles “discovered,” not “invented” by all societies, practical principles which work. In Western civilization, these principles derive from Greek and Roman law; especially the latter, since the Romans had to adjudicate cases in many cultures, and they noticed that disparate societies had some principles in common. Our founding fathers embraced Natural Law theory in the Declaration of Independence, when they wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ….” Natural Law confers rights to the individual, and individuals form a society with a social contract based on those rights.

Natural Law theory has always had two problems, however. How can you identify a “natural” law? And, how do you make it work in society? The observations of the Romans answered the first: find the common principles which work in a variety of cultures. Our founding fathers found a solution to the second: the U.S. Constitution.

The second secular system, called the “Organic Theory” or “Historicism,” was a rejection of natural law. It was a reaction among European thinkers who thought that events such as the French revolution and breakdown of monarchies were getting too messy. Organic theory attempted to find a unifying doctrine that could conform all of society to some static model of perfection. This theory sought to identify a “collective will” manifested by majority rule, but it essentially ignored individual rights. Organic theory evolved into National Socialism in Germany, and into Communism. The Green Party platform is also a derivative of this philosophy.

The third secular theory is Utilitarianism. This, too, is a product of 18th century Europe and a rejection of natural law. Utilitarians think they can design a system of government to maximize the happiness of the citizens based on scientifically determined principles of governance. They attempt to show how a citizen’s self-interest can be reconciled with social responsibility without resorting to any lofty metaphysical assumptions. To reach this happy state, Utilitarians are loath to compare the values of one person with another. They think that goals, and means toward those goals, are so obvious to the enlightened, that they need not be justified with actual evidence. This theory has led to welfare economics and moral relativism.

In my view, environmentalism is somewhere between a religion and Utilitarianism. More specifically, the anthropogenic theory of global warming is becoming a religious crusade.

This was noted by Dr. Walter E. Williams when he wrote several years ago: “Manmade global warming, for many, is an Earth-worshiping religion. The essential feature of any religion is that its pronouncements are to be accepted on the basis of faith as opposed to hard evidence. Questioning those pronouncements makes one a sinner.”

More recently, Dr. W.A. Beatty, writing at American Thinker, has this to say about global warming as religion:

It is no coincidence that man-made global warming, or climate change, or whatever it’s called this week, got very popular as an issue just as the Soviet Union fell. It is the top-down centralized government’s last best hope of controlling the masses. And like other forms of socialist totalitarian worldviews, it is a religion as well.

 Man-made global warming is an earth-worshiping religion. The essential feature of any religion is that its pronouncements are to be accepted on faith, as opposed to hard evidence. And as with most religions, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance, and deceit.

 Global warmists have an unshakable faith that man-made carbon emissions will produce a hotter climate, causing natural disasters. Their insistence that we can be absolutely certain that this will come to pass is based not on science, but on faith.

 All the trappings of religion are here:

• Original sin: Mankind is responsible for the prophesied disasters, especially those of us who live in suburbs and drive our SUVs to strip malls and chain restaurants.

 • The need for atonement and repentance: We must impose a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, which will raise the cost of everything and stunt economic growth.

• Rituals: We must observe Earth Day, and we must recycle.

• Indulgences: Private jet-fliers like Al Gore and sitcom heiress Laurie David can buy carbon offsets to compensate for their carbon-emitting sins.

• Prophecy and faith in things unseen: Advocates say we must act now before it is too late.

Read the rest of the article here.

So, as we observe the celebration of Earth Day, remember all is not completely warm and fuzzy; it has its more sinister side too engendered in all the regulations and policies designed to control us.

See also:

Earth Day predictions

Advertisements

32 comments

  1. Let me get this straight: you, the denialist, are not toting the line of any particular ideology, while everyone else, the people who actually accept overwhelming hard evidence, are being “religious.”

    1. Please tell me what that “overwhelming hard evidence” is. I can’t find it. And don’t confuse the issue by giving evidence merely of warming, I don’t deny that we have warming and cooling cycles.  The AGW religion states that our carbon dioxide emissions are the major cause of warming.  What is the “overwhelming” physical evidence for that?

      1. Maybe it would be helpful to let your readers know what definition of the word “evidence” you are using. Just so we are all talking about the same thing. JP

      2. I said physical (or empirical) evidence, i.e., what is the basis of your belief based on observations or experiments not theory.

      3. Jon, ‘evidence’ is: “The available body of facts or information indicating whether or not a belief or proposition is true or valid”. That’s why your statements that there is no evidence seem ridiculous. There are reams of evidence. You just don’t believe that evidence. That’s very different than it not existing. JP

    1. The ‘Star’ article you link to and Jon’s post seem to have taken a metaphor too literally. By their example my brother is a member of the Church of the NFL. JP

  2. Religion is a concern over what exists beyond the visible world. The environment IS the visible world. Religion is concerned with the supernatural world. The environment IS the natural world.

    If your point is that some folks accept things on faith, then sure. But you won’t find them around here much. At least not for long. JP

    1. John, many religious people would greatly disagree with your first sentence.
      Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.Henry David Thoreau

      1. They wouldn’t be disagreeing with me Jon. That’s a quote from Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

        Ironic that you would use a quote from a man many consider America’s first environmentalist. And, as a pantheist, his religion was literally environmentalism.

        Scientists have used his very detailed description of the ecology of the Concord area of New York to show that the native plant species flower about ten days earlier than 150 years ago. Further evidence of a warming climate. JP

  3. A recent column in Forbes by Steve Zwick provides an example of Global warming as religion,  the column says:

    “We know who the active denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies.  Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay.  Let’s let their houses burn.  Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands.  Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.”
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevezwick/2012/04/19/a-tennessee-firemans-solution-to-climate-change/ 

    Such hate speech is a symptom of religious zealotry. 

    The Zwick diatribe is rebutted in another Forbes column by Warren Meyer:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/04/19/a-vivid-reminder-of-how-the-climate-debate-is-broken/

    1. As usual, you are trying to muddy the waters. In this case, conflating folks who agree that human CO2 emissions may disrupt Earth’s climate, with religious zealots. 

      So dear reader, if you think that AWG is a valid theory, you are a hate filled person. 

      You know where the waters are real muddy Jon? In the gutter.

      Happy Earth Day. JP

  4. Utilitarianism opposes moral relativism and without further information on the implications doesn’t take any particular stances on welfare: this is all I care to say here.

  5. Global warming is evidence based.
    Religion is faith in something when there is no evidence.

    Jon Duhamel has no faith in overwhelming evidence.

    When you totally refuse to believe the evidence, then you create a total alternative reality. Religion has more foundation in evidence than pure denial.

    Roy Spencer does not deny AGW even though you quote him often. So in a sense even you Jon Duhamel disagree with ROy Spencer. You are just that extreme. Roy knows co2 vibrates at infrared frequencies.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/10-indicators-of-a-human-fingerprint-on-climate-change.html

    Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (CDIAC). Of course, it could be coincidence that CO2 levels are rising so sharply at the same time so let’s look at more evidence that we’re responsible for the rise in CO2 levels.
     
    When we measure the type of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere, we observe more of the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Manning 2006).
     
    This is corroborated by measurements of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen levels are falling in line with the amount of carbon dioxide rising, just as you’d expect from fossil fuel burning which takes oxygen out of the air to create carbon dioxide (Manning 2006).
     
    Further independent evidence that humans are raising CO2 levels comes from measurements of carbon found in coral records going back several centuries. These find a recent sharp rise in the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Pelejero 2005).
     
    So we know humans are raising CO2 levels. What’s the effect? Satellites measure less heat escaping out to space, at the particular wavelengths that CO2 absorbs heat, thus finding “direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth’s greenhouse effect”. (Harries 2001, Griggs 2004, Chen 2007).
     
    If less heat is escaping to space, where is it going? Back to the Earth’s surface. Surface measurements confirm this, observing more downward infrared radiation (Philipona 2004, Wang 2009). A closer look at the downward radiation finds more heat returning at CO2 wavelengths, leading to the conclusion that “this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.” (Evans 2006).
     
    If an increased greenhouse effect is causing global warming, we should see certain patterns in the warming. For example, the planet should warm faster at night than during the day. This is indeed being observed (Braganza 2004, Alexander 2006).
     
    Another distinctive pattern of greenhouse warming is cooling in the upper atmosphere, otherwise known as the stratosphere. This is exactly what’s happening (Jones 2003).
     
    With the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) warming and the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) cooling, another consequence is the boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, otherwise known as the tropopause, should rise as a consequence of greenhouse warming. This has been observed (Santer 2003).
     
    An even higher layer of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, is expected to cool and contract in response to greenhouse warming. This has been observed by satellites (Laštovi?ka 2006).

    1. The Harries et al. experiment was touted as providing direct experimental evidence of an enhanced greenhouse effect which was attributed to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  The researchers compared outgoing radiation from two satellite records separated by a 27-year time span.  The more recent satellite data showed slightly less outgoing radiation.  That was interpreted as evidence of a stronger greenhouse effect  However, the difference was very small and well within the range of instrumental error.  Furthermore, the results were obtained only on a small cloud-free portion of the Pacific.  Data collected over cloudy areas showed a strong negative feedback that completely negated theoretical rise in temperature attributed to greenhouse gases.

      1. Lindzen, R.S., Chou, M.-D. and Hou, A.Y.  2001.  Does the earth have an adaptive infrared iris?  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 82: 417-432.

      2. That’s what I thought. Your readers won’t have to go far to see how Lindzen and Chou 2001 worked out. Or the followup papers for that matter. This is the notorious “iris” hypothesis. Not long after the paper was published, NASA responded to it here:

        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Iris/iris2.php

        For those who think there is a cabal at NASA, you can check out Judith Curry’s take on Lindzen and Chou at her blog.

        Just curious Jon, where has this ‘iris effect’ been for the last thirty years? JP

  6. http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    This is the GISS data set
    1880 to 2012

    Trend: 0.59 ±0.07 °C/century (2σ)

    1980 to 2012

    Trend: 1.59 ±0.51 °C/century (2σ)

    This is the Hadcrut 3 data set

    1840 to 2012

    Trend: 0.45 ±0.07 °C/century (2σ)

    1980 to 2012

    Trend: 1.49 ±0.50 °C/century (2σ)

    UAH data set

    1980 to present

    Trend: 1.37 ±0.78 °C/century (2σ)

    ##############################

    This is hard data. I’d say its a very fair comparison GISS to hadcrut3 data sets. You can go see for yourself. If you think this is biased you can also go to wood for trees.

    HadCrut is biased cool because it does not cover the artic very well which has the greatest warming trend on earth. Even a cool biased data set is showing warming.

    This really shouldn’t be about what you wish the earth to be.

    The question to ask is “What is the earth really doing”

    I don’t think excited emotional political blogs have the correct answers on this. Our conservative brethern have got a big group think denial going on. And it is one that cannot be taken lightly. At what oint are you going to start listening, rather than looking to create fights about this.

  7. The problem with this article is not with its critique of “The Environment”. The problem with this article is its critique of religion. The author and several others releasing articles of the same sort, coincidentally, today present people who “believe” in The Environment as having replaced God with something found in the physical world. These are the unfoirtunate remarks of someone who has not found God yet. God is everywhere. Man did not create the trees, nor the oceans, nor the sand, nor the water. Man is only ever able to manipulate those things in our world. Man did not create, soemone who claims an Environmentalism is taking the place of that is putting the cart before the horse for their own agenda, not for matters relating to faith and God.

    When Muir discusses his “Hierophany”, his “flower induced epiphany”, that he found in the forest. He is not discussing the Forest as a replacement for God. He is discussing the Forest for bringing him closer to God. People who have no religion are very quickly able to consider this or that as being a “religion” for others. They are quick to put words in the mouths of those with faith. They are willing to present themselves as God’s to the unwitting. These are people who lack faith.

    A walk in a forest may do you some good sir. It may bring you closer to the creator, closer to God, but for me the comparison you make here today is the specious and political argument of someone with an agenda, not the words of someone who has faith or is able to speak with “authority” on matters relating to faith and God. God created the world. When we honor the world, we honor God. You should have some reverence for that in your arguments lest you become what you claim to oppose so fervently.

  8. I call B.S. The right has decided to go with the “environmentalism is religion” meme today in order to convince Christians they’re under attack from some foreign force. It’s a big lie.

    Environmentalism is science. It’s not religion. Anyone who thinks you can significantly impact the environment without blowback — that’s religion. This is the opposite.

    So go crawl back into your hole and tell the Koch Brothers you failed. Nobody’s buying your malarkey any more. 

  9. Our family goes through Manlius to go visit relatives. Let me add that farming organizations are conservative. They are not environmentalists at heart by a long shot. Now I like to eat like everybody else and need the farmer producing the best he or she can. This slow to change group gets it.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/20/467780/corn-growers-climate-change-is-grave-threat-to-rural-livelihoods-and-quality-of-life/

    Corn farmers concerned about the impact of climate change are speaking out, calling the problem “a grave threat” to the nation’s agricultural sector.

    Responding to the increase in severe weather — and the prospects for a “quantum jump” in such devastating events — a group of corn farmers is renewing calls for policies to help cut global warming pollution.

    The American Corn Growers Association is highlighting statements made by its former president, saying that farmers are “at the front lines of global warming”:

    Bolin, who farms near Manlius, Illinois, and who served as president of American Corn Growers Association from 2004 – 2012, said he felt there was no doubt that the weather has become more extreme, with high rainfall and severe droughts more prevalent today. He expressed concern for the ability of farmers to deal with and adapt to the changing environment. Bolin urges public policy to further develop alternative renewable energy resources, along with efforts to educate and inform agricultural producers to prepare for and adapt to the changing environment, to ensure adequate food and energy production.

    “There’s simply no substitute for good soil and a stable climate for growing crops,” Bolin said. “That puts farmers at the front lines of global warming — it’s a grave threat to rural livelihoods and quality of life. That’s why I support EPA policies to cut global warming pollution from automobiles and power plants.”

    Corn farmers concerned about the impact of climate change are speaking out, calling the problem “a grave threat” to the nation’s agricultural sector.
    Responding to the increase in severe weather — and the prospects for a “quantum jump” in such devastating events — a group of corn farmers is renewing calls for policies to help cut global warming pollution.
    The American Corn Growers Association is highlighting statements made by its former president, saying that farmers are “at the front lines of global warming”:
    Bolin, who farms near Manlius, Illinois, and who served as president of American Corn Growers Association from 2004 – 2012, said he felt there was no doubt that the weather has become more extreme, with high rainfall and severe droughts more prevalent today. He expressed concern for the ability of farmers to deal with and adapt to the changing environment. Bolin urges public policy to further develop alternative renewable energy resources, along with efforts to educate and inform agricultural producers to prepare for and adapt to the changing environment, to ensure adequate food and energy production.“There’s simply no substitute for good soil and a stable climate for growing crops,” Bolin said. “That puts farmers at the front lines of global warming — it’s a grave threat to rural livelihoods and quality of life. That’s why I support EPA policies to cut global warming pollution from automobiles and power plants.”

    1. There has been no increasing trend in extreme weather see:

      http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryheat/2012/03/01/weather-extremes-not-increasing-with-warming/ 

      Even the IPCC can’t see any increase:
      http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryheat/2012/03/30/ipcc-says-they-dont-know-if-the-climate-is-becoming-more-extreme/

      The specter more extreme weather with warming is really the opposite of what should happen.  Global warming is said to increase polar temperatures faster than equatorial temperatures.  That means there is a smaller temperature contrast leading to fewer extreme events.  That is what we have seen as the planet warmed from the “Little Ice Age.”  You AGW guys have it backwards, but the scary fairy tales make headlines.

      1. Higher temperatures bring on higher water vapor in the atmosphere. The water vapor carries with it the latent heat flowing into weather adding more energy and higher rain content to them.

        Maybe, just maybe this conservative farmer is an AGW guy also? The American Corn Growers Association. Farmers are on the front lines of global warming. My farming uncle shakes dice every year on the weather and climate coming through for him. Last year he had record high corn crops.

        Here’s hoping that climate will be kind to our crops.

  10. Jon’s hubris is rivaled only by his sophistry. His description of what drives extreme weather is vastly oversimplified to such a degree that it’s simply wrong. Latitudinal temperature gradients have a significant effect on a few types of extreme weather events, but do little or nothing to effect the most important ones. Extreme high temperatures, longer or more severe droughts, sea level rise and extreme precipitation events do not fit Jon’s simple model. 

    Rather than looking at flawed, old WryHeat posts for information on what the IPCC says about extreme weather; go to the source here:  http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/ 

    The “AGW guys”, also known as the finest climate scientists in the world, “have it backwards”. Say what you will about Jon, you can’t claim he lacks self-esteem.   JP

    1. I think it would be more accurate to say: 
      John’s hubris is rivaled only by his sophistry.

      So much for name-calling.

      1. Calling the conclusions of some of the worlds best scientists “backwards” is an act of hubris.

        Proposing a ridiculously oversimplified model is an act of sophistry. 

        That’s not name calling.   JP

  11. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-19/climate-change-has-nothing-to-do-with-al-gore

    Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore.

    How did so much of the Republican Party enter perpetual denial? We’ve turned climate science into a bizarre litmus test for conservatism. To pretend that heat-trapping gases can be waved away with a nod and a smirk is political fairytale. No harm. No foul. Keep drilling.

    I’m a Christian and ultimately come to Christ through faith. With climate change no faith is required. There is a large and growing body of evidence. The way nature works applies the same to Republican and Democrat, Christian and Muslim, animal, tree and stone. Why do people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes? Luke 16:2 says “Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship.”

    ###############

    Written by a Republican.

  12. http://climatecrocks.com/2012/04/19/heat-frost-complete-wipeout-of-michigan-grapes-deniers-they-need-more-co2/

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2071

    Back to record SST in the Gulf of mexico, a jet stream that slows down from east to west from warmer artic temperatures. There are a lot of dots out there that have a connection to AGW. 10,000 acres of grapes were wiped out from the combo of early record warmth in March, and now a freeze in April. Michigan farmers have lost 20,000,000 dollars in grapes alone from this warm frost combo. We have had our own extreme weather right here in the United States.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Summary-of-Hansen-Nov-2011.html

    Combine that with Hansen’s paper of quantifying extreme heat events. Compared to the 1950 to 1980 baseline we have experienced about 50 to 100 times more extreme heat events over the last ten years than during that baseline. What use to be quite rare is now much more frequent. Many people were exclaiming during March isn’t this odd weather. Taking into account the whole world, we are getting more than the past.

  13. John, you seem to be unaware that your treasured climate models predict amplified Arctic warming during a warming phase.  That makes the contrast between the Arctic and Equator smaller which leads to fewer intense storms because of that smaller contrast.  Therefore, the hype about more extreme weather in a warming world is the opposite of what the models predict.  That’s why I said AGW guys have it backwards.

    Of course, the models could be wrong.

Comments are closed.