I’m not the world’s biggest outdoorsman. Unlike many of my friends while I was growing up, I never went on fishing or hunting trips, and these days I spend most of my time indoors. On the other hand, I was an Eagle Scout and have done a fair amount of “primitive” camping (is there really any other kind?) and backpacking. I’ve always considered myself a conservationist for both theological and economic reasons.
However, over the last month or two I have seen some stuff coming out of the environmentalist camp that frankly creeps me out. I’m not talking about things like the “cap and trade” proposal, which I believe is fundamentally flawed but can be debated in a more or less rational manner. I’m referring to articles like this one in the New York Times, which uses forthrightly religious (pantheistic) vocabulary to describe how people’s encounters with Yellowstone National Park should be framed. The spring issue of the Journal of Faith and the Academy carried a review of Robert Nelson’s The New Holy Wars, which describes in detail how environmentalism has essentially become a religion, the categorical claims of which have become a major consideration in policy debates.
Just this week there has a been a furor over a short film released (and quickly withdrawn) by something called the 10:10 project, an effort to get people to reduce their “carbon footprint” by 10% over a one-year period. The film, “No Pressure,” (warning: it’s gross) depicts various authority figures attempting to persuade their subordinates to reduce their carbon emissions by 10%, assuring them that there is “no pressure” to participate. When the students, employees, etc., who are not interested in the idea identify themselves, the authority presses a red button and blows them up, scattering their body parts all over the other people in the room. Apparently, the 10:10 people thought it was a really funny idea to depict murder in this way! However, after the video was released the public reaction was so negative that 10:10 quietly withdrew it. No doubt this will all be old news a week from now, and the environmentalist movement will quickly regain its momentum after this brief PR hiccup.
Consider for a moment what the reaction from the American cultural elite would have been if Jerry Falwell’s church had released a similar film in which evangelists reacted to someone’s rejection of the Gospel message by blowing them up. I assure you we would never hear the end of it. There would be calls for congressional hearings and lawsuits. Christians would be casually equated with terrorists and totalitarians–wait, actually, they already are.
My point is that we will not see environmentalists treated in this way, even if their anti-growth policy prescriptions would lead to the deaths of millions of people. Will Grigg has some analysis of this issue (and some scary quotes from environmentalists) at his blog.