Thursday, December 27, 2007

You can't serve both God and Gaia...

Brendan O’Neill, an athiest, on one of the reasons I haven't been to church in awhile. It's long, with end-notes...
The cult of environmentalism embraced by the Christian churches does away with morality altogether. Some sceptics claim that environmentalism is a new form of moralistic hectoring; it is better to see it as amoralistic hectoring. In judging everything by how much CO2 or pollution it creates, environmentalism dispenses with questions of moral worth and judgement. So a flight to visit a newborn nephew in Australia (5.61 tonnes of CO2) is as wicked as taking a flight to Barbados to lounge in the sun; and the transportation of delicious food from Africa to Britain is as unforgivable as the transportation of weapons and drugs from Latin America to Los Angeles: after all, both involve exploiting the ‘warehouse of resources’ and upsetting the ‘fragile balance of species and environments’, as Williams put it (5). When human actions are judged by their levels of pollution alone, the issue of meaning – of why we do things, who we do them for, and how we might do them better – is implicitly downgraded.

I knew there was hope for my best friend when, during a period she was taking the bus to work specifically to "save the planet," she also started driving a couple hundred miles every weekend to visit her grandmother, who was diagnosed with cancer (I believe it's in remission now, I should send her a card), and thus creating about 4x more "emissions" than she "saved" on her 5-mile commute: she still recognized that there are more important human things than saving the rocks.

(Aside: Everytime I see a city bus with one passenger belching diesel fumes into the night, I wonder what's being "saved"...there are reasons for mass transit but "the planet" is not one of them.)

I don't want to burn a Guatemalan's lunch in my gas tank, and I don't want to plow up habitat to grow more corn. I don't want to refuse to purchase coffee (transportation is bad...) from someone who depends on sales to America to support their family. I don't want to dump mercury bulbs into the landfill. I hate people in the specific, but in the abstract there's no reason to keep people poor and miserable at the behest of rock-worshippers.

I would like Illinois to stop pumping water from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi watershed, but that shouldn't keep other people starving and brain-damaged to protect the lichens.

1 comment:

James Pawlak said...

How much carbon and guilt can be assigned to the thousands who traveled to Bali for an "global warming conference"?