"ENVIRONMENTALISM AS RELIGION" was an address given by science writer Michael Crichton in September 2003. Crichton has written many novels that are steeped in information garnered from his knowledge as a scientist. Anyone who would like a key insight into the mystique that has built up around climate science in novel form, yet with real climate science evidence built in, should read Crichton's State of Fear as a starter on the whole subject.
The thread of religion (i.e. fact and faith mix) that runs through the entire modern environmental movement has been commented on by a number of observers and writers. Here are just a few writers and quotes on the subject - complete with a link to the article it was taken from:
Michael Crichton, from 'Environmentalism as Religion' (link above):
"One of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists."
"Why do I say its a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. I f you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. "
"It seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom.
"We need to get environmentalism out of the sphere or religion."
Lord Nigel Lawson, former Lord Chancellor to Margaret Thatcher, from the conclusion to The Economics of Climate Change: An Appeal to Reason. (A lecture given to the Centre for Policy Studies, London on Nov. 1, 2006.)
"The new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than clerics of the established religions, and the new religion is eco-fundamentalism. But it is a distinction without much of a difference. And the old religions have not been slow to make common cause.
Does all this matter? Up to a point, no. Unbelievers should not be dismissive of the comfort that religion can bring. If people feel better when they buy a hybrid car and see a few windmills dotted about (although perhaps not in their own back yard), then so be it. And in a democracy, if greenery is what the people want, politicians will understandably provide it, dressed in the most high-flown rhetoric they can muster.
Indeed, if people are happy to pay a carbon tax, provided it is not at too high a level, and the proceeds are used to cut income tax, that would not be a disaster, either. It would have to be a consumer-based tax, however, since in the globalized world economy industry is highly mobile, whereas individuals are much less so. But the new religion of eco-fundamentalism does present dangers on at least three levels.
The first is that the governments of Europe, fired in many cases by anti-Americanism (never underestimate the extent to which distaste for President Bush has fuelled the anti-global warming movement), may get so carried away by their rhetoric as to impose measures which do serious harm to their economies. That is a particular danger at the present time in this country. No doubt, when the people come to suffer the results they will insist on a change of policy, or else vote the offending government out of office. But it would be better to avoid the damage in the first place.
The second, and more fundamental, danger is that the global salvationist movement is profoundly hostile to capitalism and the market economy. There are already increasing calls for green protectionism – for the imposition of trade restrictions against those countries which fail to agree to curb their carbon dioxide emissions. Given the fact that the only way in which the world’s poor
will ever be able to escape from their poverty is by embracing capitalism and the global market economy, this is not good news.
But the third danger is even more profound. Today we are very conscious of the threat we face from the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism. It could not be a worse time to abandon our own traditions of reason and tolerance, and to embrace instead the irrationality and intolerance of ecofundamentalism, where reasoned questioning of its mantras is regarded as a form of blasphemy. There is no greater threat to the people of this planet than the retreat from reason we see all around us today. "
JR Dunn, from A Necessary Apocalypse.
"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about 100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'" and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute. Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.