The Church of Green

NOTE: This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times today, and given it is generally left leaning, I’m surprised to see it printed there. I have posted an except and a link to the original below.

The Church of Green

A kind of irrational nature worship separates environmentalism from the more fair-minded approach of conservationism.
Biography  

Jonah Goldberg: May 20, 2008

I admit it: I’m no environmentalist. But I like to think I’m something of a conservationist.

No doubt for millions of Americans this is a distinction without a difference, as the two words are usually used interchangeably. But they’re different things, and the country would be better off if we sharpened the distinctions between both word and concept.

At its core, environmentalism is a kind of nature worship. It’s a holistic ideology, shot through with religious sentiment. “If you look carefully,” author Michael Crichton famously observed, “you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.”

Environmentalism’s most renewable resources are fear, guilt and moral bullying. Its worldview casts man as a sinful creature who, through the pursuit of forbidden knowledge, abandoned our Edenic past. John Muir, who laid the philosophical foundations of modern environmentalism, described humans as “selfish, conceited creatures.” Salvation comes from shedding our sins, rejecting our addictions (to oil, consumerism, etc.) and demonstrating through deeds an all-encompassing love of Mother Earth. Quoth Al Gore: “The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”

I heard Gore on NPR the other day. He was asked what he made of evangelical pastor Joseph Hagee’s absurd comment that Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath for New Orleans’ sexual depravity. Naturally, Gore chuckled at such backwardness. But then the Nobel laureate went on to blame Katrina on man’s energy sinfulness. It struck me that the two men were not so different. If only canoodling residents of the Big Easy had adhered to “The Greenpeace Guide to Environmentally Friendly Sex.

Environmentalists are keen to insist that their movement is a secular one. But using the word “secular” no more makes you secular than using the word “Christian” automatically means you behave like a Christian. Pioneering green lawyer Joseph Sax, for example, describes environmentalists as “secular prophets, preaching a message of secular salvation.” Gore too has often been dubbed a “prophet.” It’s no surprise that a green-themed California hotel provides Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” right next to the Bible and a Buddhist tome.

Whether it’s adopted the trappings of religion or not, my biggest beef with environmentalism is how comfortably irrational it is. It touts ritual over reality, symbolism over substance, while claiming to be so much more rational and scientific than those silly sky-God worshipers and deranged oil addicts.

Read the complete LA Times article at this link
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45 thoughts on “The Church of Green

  1. Amazing! A journalist with a brain!
    And I’m sure it appeared on the front page.
    Still you have to give them credit. Yesterday I commented on the budding climate change now taking hold IN THE MEDIA. Maybe I’m being premature. But maybe some jounalists are indeed waking up to the adverse side effects, the real harm, of this low carbon, hysteria-driven pipe dream, and are now pulling the emergency brake.

  2. Jonah is a syndicated columnist, and is the LAT’s token conservative. It certainly didn’t please the libs when they began to carry his columns, and we certainly cannot transfer anything he writes to the LAT itself. His recent book, Liberal Fascism, was a surprise best seller.

  3. Jonah is an awsome writer and a great true conservative. I throughly enjoyed “Liberal Facsism.” He’s also a contributing editor to Nation Review and frequently has his columns appear in Townhall. He’s certainly, as Basil said, no more than the token conservative at the LAT.

  4. Jonah is a conservative?
    I didn’t know that. The whole time I thought the LAT was changing tunes. How stupid of me! Yes, I should have known better.

  5. Anthony and all- As one of the many regular visitors who have discovered this site only in the last few months and (up until now) had silently soaked up both information and wisdom, I felt compelled to comment today after having read Jonah Goldberg’s editorial in the LAT this morning. Minutes later was delighted to see that you already had posted the column and link, and that a discussion was brewing. Well written, thoughtful editorials that speak truth about an issue many care about but few really understand go a long way toward making a reasonable person think twice about the basis for his or her beliefs. To that end Goldberg and others can help pave the way to sanity re: the truth about Earth’s climate and its issues. I can feel a tide of thought and reconsideration turning, a human PDO shift starting to take hold. I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the big AGW tv ad blitz has dramatically dropped off (at least in the LA media market). Have others noticed this?
    REPLY: Thanks for the kind words. I have noticed less TV ads on the History and Discovery Channel as of late. May be polar bear related.

  6. Check out the latest from Lubos:
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/05/31072-american-scientists-against-agw.html
    A little under the belt. But hey, goes with the territory.
    I didn’t know Robert Kennedy Jr. was so qualified in climate science. Wasn’t he an associate of Dr. Tim O’Leary or something?
    We could also add Sen. Ted Kennedy to the list, but given the current circumstances, I’ll show the decency and respect of refraining from such a dirty prank.
    Get well soon Senator. I mean it.

  7. P.S. I too am surprised this ran in the L.A. times. Their editorial department is so rabidly left wing you can nearly hear the spittle dripping off the page.

  8. These kinds of articles, much like this blog, when written well and supported appropriately without attempting to out-scream opponents will have a modifying effect on the alarmist claims. As much as the public seems to devour the doomsday scenarios, it really wants reassurance that everything will be all right. When fighting the zeitgeist, it’s important to be steady, calm, knowledgeable, and friendly. Being correct in your opinions seals the deal.

  9. Environmentalism is just a different group using a different mantra to control the rest of us. Every religion is that way no matter doctrine they subscribe to.

  10. I’ve always been interested in taking care of the land and water. People who have roots in farming and ranching always are. What chaps my butt are the “environmentalists” who don’t know diddly about an environment other than urban that needlessly cause wildlife habitat to be destroyed by opposing grazing, hunting, and forest management to include controlled burns and thinning of the underbrush.

  11. Pierre said: “Maybe I’m being premature. But maybe some jounalists are indeed waking up to the adverse side effects, the real harm, of this low carbon, hysteria-driven pipe dream, and are now pulling the emergency brake.”
    Not in your lifetime, Pierre! They’re simply waking up to the fact their already low credibility is about to take another plunge! Soon, they’ll have to look up to see bottom.
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  12. Unrelated to Jonah’s column … there are at least two factions amongst the AGWers. The CO2-only faction & the manifold-cause researchers. V. Ramanathan and Charlie Zender, for instance, agree with the CO2-only faction that CO2 will cause unprecedented warming. But their work on the heating effects of soot (tropospheric soot and dirty snow, respectively) are largely ignored by the IPCC CO2-centric faction.
    Case in point:
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/04/black-and-white-aerosols-show.html
    Climate Resistance interviews top-name AGWers V. Ramanathan (of INDOEX fame) and Greg Carmichael about the new-found total heating effects of aerosols (esp. soot, or black carbon)

    Q: So what is the empirical evidence that, 50 years ago, white aerosols were masking GW due to CO2?
    A: (VR): It’s pretty flimsy. The main information we have […] is our understanding of the SO2 emissions by coal combustion, and oil. But we need to know not so much how much SO2 we put out, but how much was converted to sulphates, how much was removed [etc]
    Q: So you don’t even know the life cycle of the SO2 and sulphates?
    A: (VR): No. All the information we have is from models… It could still be true [that white aerosols account for the post-war temperature slump]
    Q: But it could not be true?
    A: (VR): Yes. The picture is complicated. But this paper is not saying it is wrong […]
    Q: So we now have a better idea of what is happening aerosol-wise in the present, but what was going on in the 1950s/’60s is still elusive?
    A: (VR): Yes, There’s a lot of research needs to be done on that – what happened in the ’50s and ’60s, and then why the rapid ramp up [from the ’70s]. I’m not saying our current understanding is wrong, just that it is a more complicated picture. I would say it’s uncertain.

    This as opposed to Bob Ward’s letter condemning the “Great Global Warming Swindle:”

    “…[The Great Global Warming Swindle] misrepresented the current state of scientific knowledge by failing to mention that the cooling effects of aerosol need to be taken into account when considering the period of slight cooling between 1945 and 1975.”

    The evidence of a net heating effect against sooty brown clouds has been mounting since at least 2000:

    [Message received by email and posted with permission]
    Dear Sirs:
    This is not – repeat, not – news, but it has been ignored by the IPCC.
    My peer review for the most recent IPCC report (AR4) included the following comment on both drafts;
    “Page 1-25 Chapter 1 Section 1.5.11 Line 30
    For accuracy and completeness, after “… burning of fossil fuels” add “Additionally, it has been found that increases to sulphate aerosols combined with soot particles have a strong warming effect (0.55 Wm-2) greater than that of methane (0.48 Wm-2), and these combined particles are also linked with the burning of fossil fuels (ref. Jacobson MZ, Nature, vol. 409, 695-697 (2000)).””
    But the published IPCC report was not amended in the light of my review comment.
    Richard S Courtney

  13. And I am embarrassed.
    No need to be. Sometimes a seed can grow. Look at Tierney. He might be the one to swing the NY Times over on global warming.
    The elites who read these papers are not going to be too eager to “eat less” because of misplaced environmental concerns.

  14. I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the big AGW tv ad blitz has dramatically dropped off (at least in the LA media market). Have others noticed this?
    I want you to go to your window and shout, “I’m as cold as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

  15. I’m an environmentalist, most definitely, and I agree with the following from the article: “John Muir… described humans as “selfish, conceited creatures.” ”
    That being said, I still like hanging around with you guys… 🙂

  16. The religous aspect goes beyond the unthinking, irrationalism that pervades the Green movement. It is deeply tied in with the belief that the United Nations is the font of all that is good and wise in the world. The parallel being with Rome in the medieval church. Portrayed as the source of all that was wise and true, it was in fact a cesspool of vice.
    The whole AGW bandwagon didn’t get rolling until the UN got in on the act. To challenge AGW is to challenged the authority of the UN, which is the real heresy in the eyes of the true believers.

  17. swampie (15:53:13): What chaps my butt are the “environmentalists” who don’t know diddly about an environment other than urban that needlessly cause wildlife habitat to be destroyed by opposing grazing, hunting, and forest management to include controlled burns and thinning of the underbrush.
    Back off, swampie; we own the intellectual property rights to that stuff in Australia.

  18. Philip B wrote: “The whole AGW bandwagon didn’t get rolling until the UN got in on the act. To challenge AGW is to challenged the authority of the UN, which is the real heresy in the eyes of the true believers.”
    Although the time line is a bit fuzzy, it appears Teller started the AGW agenda with anti fossil fuel campaign in order to promote his not-so-hidden pro-nuclear agenda.
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com
    REPLY: Jack that’s true. Teller was on the Atomic Energy Commission and they started to demonize coal back then to push nuclear power plants. One of the tools used was a national magazine ad campaign that had a lump of coal with a statement like “coal is dirty, nuclear energy is clean” along with CO2 and soot being described as the dirty products of coal produced power.

  19. Philip B wrote: “The whole AGW bandwagon didn’t get rolling until the UN got in on the act. To challenge AGW is to challenged the authority of the UN, which is the real heresy in the eyes of the true believers.”
    Actually Phillip, the UN’s involvement didn’t come until several other events took place. Although the time line is a bit fuzzy, it appears Teller started the AGW agenda with anti fossil fuel campaign in order to promote his not-so-hidden pro-nuclear agenda.
    But it wasn’t until Lady Thatcher came along (under Crispin Tickell’s guidance) and used the issue to catapulted herself to the world stage. From there, the UN saw it as a source of power, control, and MONEY, all of which could enhance their goal of world governance.
    Then along came the EU who jumped on the “bandwagon” with glee. These wonderful folks saw it as a way to fill the treasuries (MONEY) of its member states, who were (and are) facing massive rebellions and anarchy because of their inability to pay out benefits as their “baby boomers” begin retiring.
    The enviros saw it as a way to promote their whacky agendas and in the process, gain MOINEY, power and prestige.
    The media saw it as a way to generate controversy and in the process, sell more of their rags. The more rags sold, the greater the ad revenue, the more MONEY in their coffers. Additionally, the media apparently thought they could raise their sagging profile and prestige, but miscalculated and saw their sales slip even further. In the process, they also saw their reputations fall lower than whale poop.
    Politicians saw it as a MONEY machine and a source of greater power, using the issue to create a persona of “higher intelligence” for themselves. Unfortunately for them, they now look like greater jackasses than they ever did before. The politicians have also been using the issue to generate campaign contributions from fringe groups and corporations, the latter intent on capitalizing on the pervasive fear mongering sweeping the world. Campaign contributions are a neat way of accepting “pay off” MONEY for pork barrel legislation.
    Finally, corporations, such as General Electric, saw it as a great way to fleece the public and enhance their sagging bottom lines with unnecessary and questionable products advertised to mitigate AGW.
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  20. Around here (Western Massachusetts), we are being strongly encouraged to use “reusable” bags at the grocery store, preferably ones that the store sells, but also people bring their own with them. I just accept the plastic bags, because I use them at home. So I just have one question.
    What do they line their wastebaskets with?
    If I didn’t have a cabinet full of plastic shopping bags, I guess I’d have to *purchase* wastebasket liners. Which is worse???

  21. McGrats:
    Europe also saw it as a way of “taxing” the USA. which is much more dependent on fossil fuels than them.
    The way you described it sounds like the perfect storm. Don’t disagree.

  22. MorahLaura wrote: “..If I didn’t have a cabinet full of plastic shopping bags, I guess I’d have to *purchase* wastebasket liners. Which is worse???”
    We use the old plastic bags for picking up after our dogs. If that nonsense hits Illinois (which it probably will), we’ll have to buy plastic bags for that task. So now we’ll still use plastic bags of one sort or another, plus add to the landfills with paper bags.
    Way to go, legislators… you pack of idiots!
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  23. MorahLaura, I have used the plastic grocery bags for wastebasket liners for something in excess of 20 years…for the kitchen basket also.
    You’ve drawn me out. This is the first time in all these years I’ve admitted publicly what a cheapskate I am.

  24. Mike from Canmore wrote: “The way you described it sounds like the perfect storm.”
    I couldn’t use a better term myself.
    By the way, I forgot one other thing: the pseudo scientists use AGW to advance their pathetic careers and gain MONEY (from funding) in the process. And it’s your money and my money they’re plundering with their phoney “science.”
    As you probably noted from the above postings, it appears I repeated my post. Actually, the second post is simply far clearer than the first (I had just climed out of bed and wasn’t thinking too clearly).
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  25. Julie,
    There’s nothing at all wrong with being selfish and conceited creatures. In fact rational self-interest is the hallmark of humanity and is the force that has created almost all of the comforts and productivity which we enjoy today. And one can be selfish, and at the same time quite benevolent and even valuable to our fellow man, to the environment and to the other life on the planet. Are not environmentalist careers also selfish and conceited pursuits as well?
    Humanity should not have a bad name for our rational self-pursuits any more than other animals should have a bad name for their instinctual predatory behavior. It is all simply the nature of being.
    We should be good stewards of our resources simply because that provides us a greater benefit and a clean home.
    But I absolutely refuse to submit to any guilt for the state of man, nor feel any remorse for simply being and acting human.

  26. McGrats (07:46:54), You’ve hit each nail squarely on the head. None of the groups you mentioned are going to give up on their agendas easily. Simply having contrary evidence will not be good enough to fight the propaganda machines at work.

  27. Joe S said: “McGrats, You’ve hit each nail squarely on the head. None of the groups you mentioned are going to give up on their agendas easily. Simply having contrary evidence will not be good enough to fight the propaganda machines at work.”
    You’re right Joe. But that’s where you, I, and all the others concerned with this nonsense come into play. We must continue keeping abreast of things by logging into this and other informative sources on a daily basis. Then take that knowledge and start firing back at the parasites.
    I know from the thousands of emails I receive from “The Mysterious Climate Project” members, that at least 23 professors are using the TMCP information in their classrooms; that at least 7 climatologists are reprinting TMCP information and passing it out at lectures, and that we’re well over 100,000 subscribers within the first year.
    Each of us has to continue forging ahead in our own way. Your future, my future, and the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on what each of us do in combating the AGW garbage.
    And I will say in all sincerity, the WattsUpWithThat.com blog is simply the finest place to gather that information in toto, or as a launching pad with its thousands of links! The information is tops, the contributors incredible, and the feedback enlightening.
    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  28. I think the idea of “Liberal Fascism,” Goldberg’s hobbyhorse, is utter gibberish, and I find most of his writing detestable, but I agree with THIS column of his. Gore’s book is basically a religious screed; McKibben’s End of Nature is a howl of pain at being cast out of Eden, and so on.
    I’m not sure his distinction of “conservationism” from “environmentalism” is the right one, but I agree that irrationalism is tainting the “movement,” whatever you call it. People can’t deal with risk, uncertainty, details – better to just have a simple answer.
    Personally, I feel that the root issues are moral – ethical – ones. That is, we must decide how much we are willing to change our planet, knowing that our descendants will get what we give them. Deforestration, soil contamination, the flooding of valleys, habitat destruction and extinction – these are real changes even if warming turns out to be, heh, heh, a flast in the pan.

  29. McGrath:
    And one more thing. And financial corporations such as Enron saw it as an enormous opportunity to get paid to shuffle paper.

  30. Throw this into the plastic bag scene, despite their waste drawbacks _
    They are made from petroleum products that would otherwise not be used. You can get millions of them into a single transport container so they have a lower footprint. They aren’t produced in Asian sweatshops as much of the jute etc replacements are.
    And finally they are actually a distraction from the real issues – in the sum of things they are not that important, beyond being some kind of symbol.

  31. Lucianne Goldberg of Lucianne.com once replied to someone who linked to one of Jonah’s articles complaining of nepotism that “It ain’t nepotism if it’s your Nep.”
    The Nep done good with this one.

  32. Personally, I feel that the root issues are moral – ethical – ones. That is, we must decide how much we are willing to change our planet, knowing that our descendants will get what we give them. Deforestration, soil contamination, the flooding of valleys, habitat destruction and extinction – these are real changes even if warming turns out to be, heh, heh, a flast in the pan.

    Well, an Ice Age will cause more of all of the above than AGW ever could.

  33. Worship of Nature and consciousness about the effect of human activity on the web of life is neither fanatical nor unreasonable, especially when compared with the megalomaniacal monotheopolys that drive most of the world’s population.
    What is it that bothers you about the idea that so many are taking an interest in ameliorating the harm technology may be inflicting on the balance of climate?
    The real fanatics, in my mind, are those who jump like jackals on any crumb that promotes the unsupportable premise that fossil fuel consumption is not affecting the atmosphere.
    The atmosphere is being affected, although there may be a question as to the extent, and the problem is likelier to worsen if the course is not changed. You can quibble with the science, but in the end, I wonder why the green-hating crowd is so defensive and triumphant.
    After all, we do all live here. I imagine some of you folks care more about housing association regulations than anything that might put an end to smog and acid rain.
    Or are those a hoax, too?

  34. Jeff Alberts:
    Well, an Ice Age will cause more of all of the above than AGW ever could.
    Perhaps so, but what’s your point? Humanly induced climate change is not high on my worry list.

  35. What is it that bothers you about the idea that so many are taking an interest in ameliorating the harm technology may be inflicting on the balance of climate?
    What bothers me about it is that, as a direct result of policies resulting from said interest, severe hardships are being imposed on the world’s poor and the effect on the world’s climate is little to none.
    It amounts to human sacrifice en masse.
    That is a sacrifice I am not willing to make.
    And in the case of biofuels (to add insult to injury) more atmospheric carbon is being released as a result, when one takes into account the land use involved.
    I also never fail to be surprised that so few in the environmental movement seem able to perceive that we are going though a critical economic expansion that will ultimately result in a far more affluent and therefore FAR cleaner and environmentally secure world. There appears to be no conception whatever that a richer, and therefore more technologically powerful world will have a much increased ability to solve genuine environmental concerns.
    No, I do not think that to “stop the engine of the world”, in Rand’s quaint idiom, is going to solve anything, much less help the environment in any way. Quite the opposite. Every affluent country protects its environment. No undeveloped country does or has ever done so sufficiently.

  36. Flow, that was quite an irrational rant you gave, which had absolutely nothing to do with the article. Did you even read it? There’s a huge difference between being a good steward of the earth and worshipping it, but you, like [many enviros] want to blur that distinction. Environmentalism has become a religion which actually has very little to do with real issues such as pollution and other environmental degradation, and more to do with making its adherents feel good about themselves.

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