Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Evangel cautioned against

The Australian yesterday reprinted an article by John Kay of the UK’s Financial Times (also available here) on environmentalism as religion.

What can one say about this effort? Seemingly a companion piece to The Australian’s editorial on Friday, this piece continues an apparently concerted effort by the paper to trivialise and marginalise legitimate public concerns.

Caricature, hyperbole and specious equivalence abound to produce a heady mix that’s sure to be well received by ... er, the choir to whom Kay is preaching. Kay works up a nice little alarmist line about “environmental evangelists”, but of course fails to identify any individuals who exemplify this new bogey.

It’d be nice to have the time to critique Kay’s tract line by line, but just for a taste, consider the following:

Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society. ... This lost Eden never existed. Humans have burned and eaten the environment since time immemorial.

Oh sure. Except that humans are now “burning and eating the environment” in exponentially increasing numbers, which hasn’t obtained until the last 100 years or so, a mere blink of an eye in human history. This is one of a host of empirical facts that inform widespread environmental and existential concerns.

It’s the sort of public concern that has, in the last 40 years or so, spurred many initiatives that have widely succeeded in improving the environment, particularly the urban environment in Western cities. Kay makes much of the “manifest fact” of such improvements, but fails to consider that these may be attributable to past environmental “evangelism”.

Kay’s article is rather a slick, but ultimately worthless, piece of work, unless one needs a laugh. It pretends to be an objective and erudite exposition, but – with, for instance, the assertion that “Business should treat the environmental movement as it treats other forms of religious belief,” – it becomes clear that it is written with a business audience in mind.

Or perhaps I should have said, a business-as-usual audience.


Blogger Caz said...

He was blowing it out his arse when he wrote that piece.

I definitely agree that the overt rituals are merely feel-good perception-politics, not worth a damn. (And recycling newspapers is more costly, uses more water, and creates far more pollution that using a 100% renewable resource - trees - 100% renewable, and yet we fucking recycle paper and create polllution instead.)

I'm also very, very, very aware that the "sustainablity" lobby quickly formeed into an industry, and in of itself, as most often happens with these things. OOOh, goody, buy shares in "sustainable" companies. Even the concept is a joke.

What I still can't fathom, and never will, is how dingbats can still waft around saying: "sure, the world's heating up, but it's not our fault, so that's okay".

Fact is, we do have to prepare for the consequence - REGARDLESS OF WHOSE FAULT IT IS.

This article carps about environmental concerns being just as much smoke and mirror as every other religion or superstition, and yet, and yet - what do we have here? - someone whose faith in capitalism, or rather, devotion to "economics" has a religiously blind faith to it.

It is irrational for anyone to believe that the economy and their little bank balance will collapse if we start changing the way we do things - real change, not this namby pamby fucking windmill nonsense. The economy WILL collapse if we don't do anything.

We get hysterical in our country over a handful of refugees, oh yes, that's right, "economic" refugees, the one's so greedy and consumer-centric that they want a better life - how dare they.

What are we going to do when there are tens of millions of refugees, from Florida, Manhatten, India, China?

Protect the "economy" at all costs?

The only thing we're doing is ensuring gobal economic collapse.

26/1/07 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Excellent rant, Caz!

Do you ever get the feeling the human race is its own worst enemy?

Ah, forget I asked, it's one of those self-referential quandaries. Or somesuch.

30/1/07 11:09 PM  

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