Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Church of the Blue Marble

Mark Steyn had an article in the Chicago Sun Times last week on the global warming/climate change hysteria which really seems to have hit high gear in the past month or so. On Thursday he discussed it some more on Hugh Hewitt's show, but this time he came out and said what I've thought about environmentalism for years: it's a religion.
HH: Now Mark, you wrote about global warming for the Chicago Sun this past weekend. I tend to believe, I think that they’ve gone a planet too far in their demands for immediate change. And when I saw Nancy Pelosi testifying today, I thought to myself, no one’s going to buy this, especially with Al Gore inventing scientists who’ve been paid off by the Bush administration to lie. Have they in fact gone a study too far?

MS: Well, look. You can never go too far with global warming. In the words of Richard Harris, MacArthur Park is melting in the dark.

HH: (laughing)

MS: That’s how bad the global warming’s got. And the point here is they think they can basically…if they’re right, if they’re right, was it necessary to peddle so many falsehoods? The fact of the matter is, that after that Chicago Sun Times piece, I’ve had letters from people who represent scientific professions I don’t even understand, like geomorphology, basically a large number of letters from scientific persons, raising all kinds of questions about the science of global warming. There are many different opinions on global warming. And the bullying manner is what is actually completely unscientific about it, because it basically says look, you can’t raise any objections to it. This is just the way it is, and you have to accept that. Well sorry, that’s not science, that’s a religion. That’s a cult.

HH: Dennis Prager raised the question today, my colleague on the radio, and I know you know Dennis. Why does everyone on the right scoff, or at least disbelieve the certainty with which it’s advanced, and everybody on the left embrace it? I thought it was a very interesting question. Why is that, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I do think that on the left, there is a kind of ideological vacuum…not an ideological one, but a vacuum of faith, into which environmentalism is the one that’s most easily accessed. And I think on the right, the right is naturally more skeptical.
I wonder if I'm the only person who still remembers this. Al Gore's brainwave - a satellite that would be pointed toward the earth, and would broadcast images of the Earth 24/7 for people to look at. I remember the jolt of recognition I felt when I heard it described in 1998: I know what that is! It's a pagan version of Perpetual Adoration! (What an odd name for it, too - Triana, with its vaguely mystical overtones.)

An article from 2001 by Jeremy Manier (scroll down to find it) goes into more detail about the origin of the idea, and it just reinforces my feeling of observing a sort of debased religion.
It would be an extraordinary fate for a mission that started from nothingin 1998, when a nagging idea woke Gore in the middle of the night.

He had long wondered how to get more photos like those from the Apollo moonmissions, when astronauts traveled far enough to capture the first--and someof the last--pictures of the Earth as a lonely whole. Those images had a deepeffect on Gore, who kept a huge blow-up photo of the Earth on his White Houseoffice wall.

Gore conceded in a Rolling Stone magazine interview in November that the tale of his late-night inspiration "sounds a little ... Rod Serling." As hetells it, he woke from a dream at 2 o'clock in the morning, logged onto theInternet, "went to a couple of sites and figured out how to do this."
No, not Rod Serling - more like Ezekiel and his prophetic dreams. And of course, the point of the project was as much spiritual as scientific:
"Gore's initial idea was more about the visual spectacle of observingEarth in real time, bringing forth in people's minds the smallness and unityof this globe in the largeness of space," said Jim Watzin, project manager ofTriana at the National Aeronautics & Space Administration.
It would even have had its own acolytes, forever tending the sacred flame:
Ground stations would have been operated by university students, in keeping with the Clinton Administration's effort at that time to increase interest in science and math.

Participants. Students and the educational community would have been involved in every phase of the inspirational Triana project. Students would have benefited from hands-on participation via the Internet and NASA's other educational outreach efforts.
I think we're going to see more of this, and it's going to be as hard to combat as cult-think usually is. Environmentalism is religion for people who won't admit to being religious. This is quite a different thing from the Wiccan types, who come right out and talk about Gaia and spirits, and dryads and naiads, for all I know. Environmental cultists instead let their emotions be stirred by Earth-worship, while pretending that they're hard-headed, scientific realists.


Blogger Ellie M said...

This idea of environmentalism being a pseudo-religion has been bandied about quite a bit of late. In fact, some go even further and suggest that global warming is a cult, too. It has charismatic leaders (ie Al Gore), a central message that must be spread and must never be questioned, and charges of heresy against those who disbelieve.

7:18 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

Wow. I like the earth-image-satellite-as-Perpetual-Adoration bit. I too find that there are too many parallels between environmentalism and religion to be ignored. I'm on the fence as to whether the parallels fall more in favour of the pagan or puritan varieties of religion. The two have at least some things in common, like capricious and peevish deities that are not to be messed with, and a belief that humanity is an afterthought at best, a plague at worst.

10:51 pm  

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