Tag Archives: environmentalism

Environmentalism as religion

A late but strong candidate for controversial discussion-point of the month appeared yesterday in the form of visionary physicist Freeman Dyson’s article for the New York Review of Books, in which he detours into a discussion of global warming skepticism.

There’s a lot of interesting points in there, and the replies and rebuttals are coming thick and fast, but what I wanted to focus on was Dyson’s portrayal of environmentalism as a secular religion, because it turned up in my feed reader at almost exactly the same time as another article which claims software-based research suggests religion is an inevitable consequence of evolution.

If that’s the case, one wonders if religion is merely a developmental phase that we’ll eventually grow out of? One thing’s for certain – Creationists probably won’t appreciate the irony of being told their faith is a by-product of a process they don’t believe in.

The Earth can take care of itself

Hungry African kidsDid you enjoy Earth Day?

Well, not everyone did. In fact, people in some equatorial countries are rioting over food shortages – a situation that even the slow-poke UN is worrying about.

One of the causes of spiralling food costs is the corn ethanol boondoggle. While it’s a good thing that we’re turning away from our dependence on oil derivatives, all the ethanol cars in the world will be of little comfort to hungry people … so we should probably be getting right behind the cellulosic ethanol researchers. And while we’re on the subject of cutting down on our oil diet, we could be making plastics from pig piss.

Perhaps you think I’m being a tree-hugger. If so, you’re missing the point. As happens so often, Jamais Cascio sums it up in the intro to an essay you should go and read:

The grand myth of environmentalism is that it’s all about saving the Earth.

It’s not. The Earth will be just fine. Environmentalism is all about saving ourselves.

[Supplementary links sourced from MetaFilter, Slashdot, BoingBoing and more; image by Felipe Moreira]

Depleted Cranium gives good advice on where Environmentalists could spend their time

Flaring is an unneccessary waste of resources that could quickly lower CO2 emissionsI think action is needed to prevent climate change and to mitigate against peak resources. However I don’t think we should go back to the stone age to do so. By pairing good governmental regulation with the invention and investment of smart business, important steps can be made without destroying either our livelihoods or the world.

Bad Science blog Depleted Cranium has some good posts on ten things Environmentalists rail against that is probably a waste of time and on what would be a more productive use of their protests. Things like Flaring, underground coal fires, Landfill gases and ship pollution are all things that could cut a huge chunk out of greenhouse gas emissions without denting our lives too much. Overall, we need to be encouraged to make everything we do more efficient, to give economic and social penalties to unneccessary waste. In many cases, this can often increase profits rather than losing them. There are some excellent posts on the Oil Drum related to this, especially those about Relocalization of Agriculture, The Limits of growth and an analysis of smaller cars and Jevons paradox – as cars get cheaper and more efficient, will the world just buy more and end up using just as much energy?

[via Charles Stross, image via Depleted Cranium]