Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Materialism of Environmentalism

There is no understanding environmentalism without also understanding the function of religion as a means of infusing spirituality into the material. The politicization of consumerism is an attempt to mimic the religious dimension of life without a guiding deity.

Environmentalism provides the believer with the grandiosity of a human centered existence, in which the actions of individuals can lead to massive catastrophes, floods, extinctions and hurricanes. It's the old biblical epic of Noah set in what pretends to be a rational scientific universe, but actually borrows the religious significance of human ethics placed at the center of life.

Sin and the Lord will bring a flood, says the Bible. Drive to work and the icebergs will melt and bring a flood, say the environmentalists. The only difference between the two narratives is that the latter has taken G-d out of the equation and replaced Him with a couple of think tanks.

Environmentalism rationalizes the "flood" as a purely scientific phenomenon and elevates it to dogma, driving out the heretics with stones and namecalling. The sin is no longer disobedience of G-d, but disobedience of the left. The new sinners are industrialists, SUV owners and large families. But the true nature of the sin is not in deed, but in faith. They who believe may fly jet planes around the world and be exempt. They may enter into cap and trade schemes to pass on their sinful pollution on to others because it is the dogma that matters, more than any supposed climatic effects. If you believe then you may ride in as many limos as you like.

Adding an ethical dimension to consumerism is meant to be a secular religion, substituting moral labels for moral precepts. But whose revelations is it following? The politicization of consumerism comes from the anti-capitalist left, which has an innate dogmatic opposition to middle-class prosperity. Its science comes from a field that had always been overlooked when it came to funding and whose PhD's had a weakness for sandals and hikes. The thing they had in common was a dislike of industry and a need for a cause.

The fusion of science and politics gave the left what it had always been lacking. An apocalypse. Marx had warned that the specter of class warfare was haunting Europe. But the revolution he had been predicting never came. Instead the Burghers and their bureaucracy successfully stole his thunder to create comfortable welfare states funded by industry that even the left had trouble objecting to.

Human apocalypses, wars and revolutions, had been the left's stock in trade. It predicted them and than rallied its followers to come to power so it could ward them off. Environmentalism gave it its own apocalypse. Its old arguments against capitalism depended on the oppressed rising up. Its new argument was that capitalism would destroy the world.

The old left had borrowed social justice from religion, while discarding everything but the moral imperative. The new left combined it with the grandiose spectacle of apocalypses while replacing the deity with the mechanics of consumerism as a vehicle of climate change. What the left created was an irreligious religion with a moral imperative encompassing every aspect of life.

The left's economics had been based on a pseudo-science. Its flood was equally pseudo-science. Pseudo-science was its substitute for miracles and its own thinkers were the new prophets. Their god was the mechanics of their pseudo-sciences which made things happen through the inevitable force of their own constructs. Once Marx or Gore posited the inevitability of an event, then it was bound to happen. Their constructs had become massive towering idols of dogma to which everyone bowed.

The problem of the idol-makers was that their gods had clay feet. Their predicted apocalypses had not happened and their ideological solution states were revealed to be horrifying societies. But their real problem was that their challenges to materialism were not based on any meaningful values.

The old left had the nub of a legitimate argument when it came to the treatment of the working class, but their solution was to replace a hierarchy and oligarchy with a much more repressive hierarchy and oligarchy. The solution was appealing only to fools and those who hoped to be at the top of the new system. And when the oligarchies and hierarchies were done with their internal purges, they proved to be even bigger fools.

Their societies did not elevate materialism by making its distribution more just, they rationed it for the benefit of their own hierarchy, and ran the output through an inefficient industrial system, creating poverty on two different levels.

The environmentalist critique of materialism depended on a philosophy that saw human influence as malignant. If the old left had fired up the steel mills, celebrating industry as a means to a better life, the environmentalists were not concerned with a better life, but a more moral one. And their morality was defined in terms of a philosophy in which human beings were only one species among many.

The posthuman left, with its planetary grandiosity, had already taken a godlike view of human affairs. The endless evocations of the small blue marble came from men who were aspiring to a more than human view of the world-- and a more than human power to go with it. Men who spoke for the planet, whose constituencies were the polar bear and the sea turtle, and they were funded by wealthy men and women who cared about these animals, than they did about people.

If the old left's critique of materialism was that it was unfair to other human beings, the posthuman left's critique of materialism was that it was all too human. That it was a way for human beings to enjoy material comforts at the expense of other species and the entire planet.

The posthuman left's paradox lay in its grandiose condemnation of human grandiosity. Men and women who arrogantly presumed to speak for the planet were condemning the arrogance of their fellow human beings for driving SUV's. But that philosophical arrogance had always been the high ground of the left. Like prophets they presumed to speak for more than themselves, and if they were not speaking for the planet and the universe, then that was their final step on the road to godhood.

Having arrogated to themselves the powers and privileges, the omnipotence and infinite wisdom of religion, and its power to offer redemption or damnation to the human race-- the left made use of it. The irreligiosity of an irrational modern society in which assertion counted for more than truth and passion was the same as sincerity meant that few counterarguments could be made against it.

The left's predictions game had always been played for big stakes. Either the modern industrial society was headed for a complete crack-up or it wasn't. Either the oceans would rise and swallow the world or they wouldn't. The very grandiosity of the prediction meant that it could not be ignored. And once it was noticed, then it had to be debated. Opponents were put into the position of atheists, forced to deny a belief that a growing number of people asserted was true.

Because even its opponents would end up adopting items from its agenda, it could never properly be disproven. And so even in losing, it still won by getting a sizable portion of its agenda through. Through the apocalypse never happened, it still gained power.

What the left understood was that a society without religious conviction could be convinced of religious ideas if they were passed off as irreligious ones. A secular priesthood could rise to power by acting as shamans of social justice and protectors of the planet. The trappings of the thing would do.

Modern industry had made production cheaper by making it more efficient. The beneficiaries of that life believed that manna came down a conveyor belt and innately trusted what the scientific progress that had made so much of their society possible. And that same belief could be twisted into a hatred of the conveyor belt, into the view that the conveyor belt was sinful.

The left had an innate distrust of practical solutions, because it eliminated the need for ideological ones. It despised religion, because it sought to take its place. The strange Luddite faith built on the pseudo-science of environmentalism was a strange thing, but also an inevitable one. It challenged the prosperity by demonizing it and offered a solution in its own form of the sin tax.

The Communists had not made life more just, they had made it more deprived and more expensive and the trick repeated itself with the environmental movement which used the advertising language of consumerism and its up-branding to associate their more expensive and worse products with a higher moral standard. The more money passed into their hands, the more moral the product was.

Passing universal regulations would mean a larger cut from every product and service for them, and lower expectations for consumers. The increasing efficiency of industry had given consumers more for less. They sought to reverse that trend by taking from them more for less. It was a successful counter-revolution to the materialistic bounty of the industrial revolution, a counter-revolution founded on dubious science in the name of abstract theories and polar bears.

The phony priesthood of the posthuman left had catastrophe mongered its way to being a green mafia claiming its share of everything. This time around fairness wasn't even really on the table as the left was leaving behind its egalitarian roots and revealing the nakedness of its elitism. There was no longer any pretense that life would get better for most people. On the contrary it would get worse. That was one of the selling points. Those with the most money would take the least hit to their living standard. Especially if they donated to the green mafia and the phony priesthood.

The religious vacuum of the modern era had not made it any less susceptible to arguments of sin and guilt, only less able to recognize them. Materialism had helped create the vacuum along with the seeds of its own destruction. Material welfare had bred apathy and unease, with the latter born from the former. And these were violins that the left knew how to play. The less there was to worry about, the more people welcomed something to worry about.

Materialism was comfort and worry both. The left fed the worry and took away the comfort, making people pay for the privilege, giving their seal of approval to materialism in exchange for money and power. Its "ethical dimension" was nothing more than it and its many organs getting paid. And we are the ones forced to do the paying to the phony priesthood of the flying thermometer.


Ciccio said...

I disagree. Environmentalism has nothing to do with the environment, consumerism or materialism. When the USSR was at its peak producing the nastiest most inefficient cars, the most polluting plants in every industry, when it was draining the largest lake in the world, when its ramshackle nuclear industry was a danger to the entire civilization, every one of those mis-steps was hailed as an advance for civilization and a triumph of socialism over capitalistic greed by the same cabal that is now pushing for destruction of Western Industry. Same object, same crowd, just a different approach.

Mike said...

protect environment is more and more important for us now!

Larry Shapiro said...

But what if you're wrong and environmenalism is an honest expression of concern over the degradation of the only home our species will ever have. Then what?

fsy said...

No one is saying that concern for the environment is all wrong. The point is that it has become a religion with dogma and a priesthood, and which brooks no dissent.

For the endpoint of this religion, see

Zachriel said...

There is no understanding environmentalism without also understanding the function of religion as a means of infusing spirituality into the material.

The vast majority of environmentalists just want clear air and water and a healthy climate.

Pointing to the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement no more defines the environmental movement than pointing to the Flat Earth society defines physics.

Morry Rotenberg said...

I would opine that the majority of the so called environmentalists are merely today’s useful idiots. They have been coapted by the anti-capitalists some of whom populate the EPA and are still pigning away for the return of Marx. They in turn have been aided by the eminant scientists who sit on the Supreme Court. These men in black declared carbon dioxide a pollutant and have therefore allowed the EPA to create havoc with our econmy and make us more vulnerable to our enemies.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, agree with every word. The whole thing is a Marxist hoax based on junk science and outright lies. It's all about destroying the West.

Here is the best explanation of this hoax from climate scientists who also expose the junk science and lies behind it:

AGW - Fact Or Hoax?"

As they say "It's the sun, stupid!"

Proud Brit.

Zachriel said...

Anonymous: I quoted Shannon (1948) in what I regard as a very unfortunate statement about the irrelevance of semantics to the fundamental problem of communication.

Sorry, that is incorrect. If solar radiance was the cause, then the stratosphere would also be warming. Instead, the troposphere is warming, but the stratosphere is cooling, the signature of greenhouse warming.

Master of Obvious said...

The proof of the bad faith by the Left associated with 'anthropogenic global warming' is their failure to support a viable alternative energy to carbon.

Wind and solar are not viable on the large scale.

So what does the Left propose to fill our energy needs? Nothing. Hence they are solely about the destruction of the West. Total bad faith.

Nuclear is the only option with the potential to meet global needs. Certainly some consider it dirty or dangerous, but it is the only non-carbon, non-global warming path to unlimited energy. Nothing is without risk.

The Left has another reason to suppress domestic hydrocarbon production. American energy independence in any form would reshape the Middle Eastern social-political landscape. Thus the tie-in to the frequent topic of this blog.

Cheap energy underpins the American economy.

How do we defeat the Left? Easier than you might think. Drill now. Build pipelines. Restart Yucca Mountain.

ericcs said...

Zachriel: "Instead, the troposphere is warming, but the stratosphere is cooling, the signature of greenhouse warming."

Sorry, but the graphs you cited provide only the most cursory explanation of the data, and certainly do not draw any conclusions therefrom, although you have attempted to do so nonetheless. Studies generally cited by AGW proponents have, after further investigation, generally neglected solar UV as to its effects in the stratosphere and trophsphere, as well as neglecting significant increases in water vapor. Research from Forster and Shine (2002) conclude that water vapor trends contribute to radioactive forcing in these layers.

And BTW, did you stop to actually read the suggested link
"AGW - Fact Or Hoax?" (see Anonymous above)? It's a good read, and it defines precisely the physics and therefore the extremely limited role of CO2 in this matter.

Finally, trying to downplay the issue by making unsupported blanket statements about what the "vast majority of environmentalists" really want is a bit of a subterfuge, isn't it? What they may or may not want is a completely different issue from whether AGW is junk science, which it most definitely is.

Lemon said...

The left proposes hot air as an alternative.

Mark Devoe said...

You might think you know it all but the earth is exploding right now from all the greenhouse gas that is building up under the streets and farm lands of the world.
This is why Africa has no grass or trees at all. The gas kills the roots and leaves the tundras bare.
In China the people are dying daily from ingesting carbon gas in food and water and and also New Zealand and much of Autralia have become uninhabitable because of gas explosions and poisons. This is not mentioned by the right wing media that constantly censors the news.

It is believed that Canbarra and Sydney will become extinct in 4 years.
Already London has had to evacuate 3 million people because of poisonous gas coming up out of the grounds due to greenhouse effects and toxins from plastic waste.

So go ahead and laugh but you are helping destroy the planet.

Keliata said...

Just a few thoughts, most of which I have made before here or more likely on my own blog.

1. I can't relate to global warming at all. The weather where I am is contradictory to the whole concept.

2. I won't say it bothers me or angers people when they refer to the earth as "this planet" as if our planet has no name or significance but there is about it. Too impersonal. The earth has a name.

2. We need more inventors like Telsa when it comes to power. Even Edison thought Telsa's idea of alternating currents was insane. Yet here I sit typing on a computer beside an electric fireplace using electricity from the Niagara Falls Power Plant.

Thank You Nikola Telsa!

“Before I put a sketch on paper, the whole idea is worked out mentally. In my mind I change the construction, make improvements, and even operate the device. Without ever having drawn a sketch

"I can give the measurements of all parts to workmen, and when completed all these parts will fit, just as certainly as though I had made the actual drawings. It is immaterial to me whether I run my machine in my mind or test it in my shop.

"The inventions I have conceived in this way have always worked. In thirty years there has not been a single exception. My first electric motor, the vacuum wireless light, my turbine engine and many other devices have all been developed in exactly this way.”

Nikola Telsa

“Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity.”

IMO most environmentalists are not concerned at all with the betterment of humanity but rather padding their own pockets and influencing the government.

Most of the science that is supposed to support global warming is junk science.

Save the polar bears by all means, but also be aware that polar bears are the only mammals to activtely hunt human beings.

Keliata said...


Nikola Telsa was a deeply religious man.

A little FYI to people such as Al Gore: ice melting isn't a terrible thing! FYI on the Mighty Niagara, melting ice and hydropower:

"The history of Niagara Falls begins with ice. Some 12,000 years ago, the ice that had blanketed North America began to thaw. This water gradually formed the Great Lakes, carving out the Niagara Gorge and the 350-foot drop that enables us to produce our power today.

"The first hydroelectric generating station on the Niagara River was built in 1881. An 86-foot cascade of water generated electricity, which ran the machinery of local mills and lit up some of the village streets."

Mark Devoe said...

Nikola Tesla worshipped his ancestors as his background was Japanese. His stepmother on this fathers cousins marriage side was anyway.
He was shinto. He had shrines set up in every room of his one room flat.
He was never really a scientist at all but drew comic book illustrations. The myth that he was a famous scientist was the work of right wing propaganda that is also responsible for dumbing down the view on the insidiousness of global warming.

The Niagara river is a man made invention of right wing power grabs that tried to circumvent the use of coal in the region and failed miserably. This was due mainly to the Bush crime family and their machinations.

On the subject of Al Gore, he is and was a great man, a hero and man for all seaons, warm or not. He will be vindicated when the extremists like REpublican and right wing loons are proven wrong. When Antarctica melts you will see that the hype over the Niagara river is just nonsense in any real world scenario.

Jeopardy Buff said...

When it comes to global warming, there are three distinct issues:
1. Does it take place?
2. If it does, is it caused by our species or by solar activities?
3. If it is caused by our species, what can we do about it?
I believe that the most crucial factor that we face today is the explosive population growth. The global population has just passed the 7 billion mark. When I was born, there were 'only' 2 billion people on this planet. We have 3 times as many mouths to feed and bodies to clothe. Most of the growth has taken place in Asia and Africa. The population of Egypt has tripled in the past 50 years. It has reached 80 million people, by far surpassing both France and England. Twenty percent of Egyptians live on less than $1 a day. The population of Pakistan has increased 3.6 times in the same period. It stands at 184 million people now, thus surpassing Russia. Twenty-two percent of the Pakistanis live on less than $1 a day. All these countries have exhausted their resources. So, what do they do? They export their surplus population to the West and pretty soon the West will look like Pakistan and Egypt.

Keliata said...

My understanding is that he was Serbian Orthodox. Double check with the Telsa Society.

Niagara Falls were not man-made at all. The power of the falls though had to be reduced so we do not know the full force of the Mighty Niagara.

Nikola Telsa was a genius regardless of his religion, which again is Serbian Orthodox.

Keliata said...

Final OT and FYI:)

Ascending the Cave of the Winds from the bottom of the falls to the hurricaine deck is an incredibly spiritual and thrilling experience.

If you're in the area by all means come and enjoy one of G-d's greatest


(Hope I got the right link)

Zachriel said...

ericss: Research from Forster and Shine (2002) conclude that water vapor trends contribute to radioactive forcing in these layers.

Yes, that's right. As the Earth warms, more water vapor enters the atmosphere. It's an important feedback mechanism.

It's ironic that you're citing Piers Forster and Keith Shine, as their research strongly supports anthropogenic climate change.

ericss: nd BTW, did you stop to actually read the suggested link

Gee whiz.

AGW — Fact or Hoax: Curiously enough, the UN IPCC reports don't even mention water vapor, since it is technically not a "gas" in the atmosphere.

IPCC: Water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas that is highly variable in the troposphere, with a short average residence time controlled by the hydrological cycle.

IPCC: Water vapour is the strongest greenhouse gas. For
these reasons and because the transition between the various
phases absorb and release much energy, water vapour is central to
the climate and its variability and change.

Think about it. How can you take "AGW — Fact or Hoax" seriously when it's obvious the author has no clue about climate science?

revereridesagain said...

As is the case with supernaturalist religion, "environmentalist spirituality" postulates "sins" against and "punishments" doled out by an imaginary deity -- Mother Earth, if you will, or just Nature if you aren't a strict Gaiaist -- that more intelligent and perceptive "devotees" know deep in the backs of their minds are hollow threats with no possibility of manifestation in reality. There will be no demons with pitchforks or lakes of fire for all eternity for those who stray from the "true religion", nor will there be, say, cataclysmic mulitiple outbreaks of volcanoes popping like giant zits all over the world due to our fossil-fuel-related "sins". But in a Halloween-fright-film-marathon sense it's scary and fun to think about them, imagine them as real, fantasize about escaping them, and dream of the earthly and unearthly rewards that will be thine for choosing to walk the straight and narrow path. Or bike it. Or carpool it in the Prius.

The acceptance of reality and reason as the "guiding lights" of ones life don't provide the same shivery portents of hell in either the Satanic Majesty or "The Day After Tomorrow" forms. But there is still plenty of excitement to be had -- even from "Mother Nature", as anyone living in the currently snow-covered and power-outed swath across western New England can tell you!

I'm sure the Climatechangetologists will find a way to blame that one on "global warming", but they are going to have a hell of a time making it stick as well as all that heavy wet snow did.

Malcolm said...

Matt Ridley has graciously allowed me to repost his speech in entirety here. It follows below. If there’s one speech about the climate debate worth reading in your lifetime, this is it.

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