Contributing to my continually growing suspicion that I am an alien who ended up on this planet by mistake, I observed the world observing Earth Day yesterday. This seems like a harmless enough celebration, and at one time I probably thought it sounded like a good way to recognize the importance of acknowledging humanity’s responsibility as steward of creation, but somewhere along the line (and quite possibly right from the start), the notion of earth-stewardship was co-opted by hucksters of an astounding variety of stripes.
Everywhere I turned yesterday, there were people trying to sell me “green,” be it in the form of cynically marketed products, paternalistically proffered political ideology, or simply as a fashionable assertion of social conformity – lest I come to the abominable conclusion that some party wasn’t sufficiently “green.” But the pitch that takes the cake came in an email at work, from a newsletter aimed at selling professional services to project managers. Why this one? Because it simply cuts through the bull, and gets to the point:
The term "eco-friendly" shouldn’t make people roll their eyes anymore.they should see dollar signs.
I took the title of this post from the heading on the article blurb that began with the above sentence (punctuation irregularities in original). Really, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. In the end, this “movement” is nothing but another scam; another opportunity for the clever to despoil the gullible. But marketing scams are a dime a dozen, and I fear this one traverses some dreadful terrain before it cashes in.
My deeper problem with the “green” movement is in the way it is passed off by the cultural illuminati as a form of morality. It serves as a substitute for a serious moral vision, placing no demands upon individuals except to practice acts of cheesy piety, such as recycling or buying green-blessed goods, yet offering the illusion of having satisfied some grave public – and perhaps even cosmic – need. This would be comical if there weren’t so many people jumping on the bandwagon, because the illusion of goodness, being the essence of idolatry, is a much more formidable enemy to the genuine good than bald evil is. “Green” certainly has become nothing if not a weapon against sound reason.
I sat in a traffic light in Wellesley tonight on my way home from work, behind a station wagon bearing a bumper sticker that said: “Be responsible: shut your car off while waiting.” Also emblazoned on the car were various peace stickers, and an Obama campaign sticker. And then there was the pro-choice slogan. If this kind of “morality” is not the height of whitewashed bourgeois acceptability and self-satisfaction on the face of an inferno of injustice and inhumanity, then I don’t know what is.
Yet this inhumanity seems to be a part of the very paradigm of the green movement. Whether it be Malthusian hysterics, anti-technological eco-puritanism, or the wildly popular “global warming” apocalyptic, humanity always seem to get painted as the problem that must be overcome in order to “save the Earth.” About a year ago, I read a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe from a leading local executive of either the United Church of Christ or the Unitarian Universalist Association, making the astonishing claim that global warming is the most important moral issue of our time. Never mind the dubiousness of the “crisis” in and of itself, can any sane person really imagine that man-made climate change is the most serious moral issue in a world still staggering from the bloodiest century in its history, still armed to the teeth with weapons of unfathomable terror, slaughtering its own children in a frenzy of sexual idiocy, and recklessly embracing immoral political ideas that attack the very foundations of human community?
But this is not the isolated view of a single left-wing whack job. The Worldwatch Institute held an interfaith symposium on global warming back in September 2006, during which Episcopalian priestess Sally Bingham expressed the emerging view: “Global warming,” says Reverend Bingham, “is one of the greatest moral issues of our time, if not the greatest.” And these supposed thought leaders are only following Prophet of Environmentalism Al Gore, who had earlier claimed that global warming was a moral issue, not a political issue.
Well, as recent history has proven yet again, hang on for dear life any time a politician starts claiming that a pet issue is not a “political” issue. But the most sublime symmetry is provided to this claim – that global warming is a moral, and not a political, issue – by a web petition sponsored by the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program, which sought to generate political support for the belief that global warming is a moral issue. Ah, serendipity. Alas, though, they fell short of their goal of 10,000 signatures. That only would have taken one signature from every ten congregations from among their member communions, according to the parent organization’s web site. Perhaps their membership was overly confused as to what it means to vote on whether or not something is a moral issue? I think the notion would have perplexed me.