The disagreement I have with environmentalists is, I think, on two levels.
The first level is the propagandistic level, the relentless, baseless fearmongering. For example the General Secretary of the UN, António Guterres, proclaiming last month that the “era of global boiling has arrived”.
That attempt to create a panic “meme”, spread throughout the world by a sickeningly compliant media, is, on the face of it, beyond ridiculous. What will they say next year, or next decade? Maybe this: “Earth has now reached the aggregate phase of plasma”.
How does the spreading of these kinds of memes tally with the most frequently repeated commandment in the Bible, namely “do not be afraid”?
The other level also has deeply religious connotations. On the deepest level, environmentalists appeal to the “urge to go back to Eden”. Psychologically speaking the “unwillingness to grow up”. That appears a bit harsh as a statement. However, state education and media pronouncements are designed to see in “Big Brother” or rather “Big Daddy”, the state and the corporations it is living in symbiotic relationship with, as the only saviour. No other God allowed, and no individual thinking and research either.
Succumbing to this trend is an expression of the fear of responsibility, responsibility which was given to us by God before the Fall, to “fill the earth and govern it” (Gen 1:28, other translations say: “subdue it”, or, as the Amplified Bible writes: “subjugate it [putting it under your power]”). Governing entails responsibility. To whom? Ultimately to God.
Environmentalists however don’t tend to think that way. Or if they do, they like to appeal to the government (i.e. Caesar) to sort out what they consider to be a problem. Instead of doing it themselves. They pass on the responsibility to the government. Thereby rendering to Caesar what in truth is God’s. Empowering Caesar in a way contrary to what Jesus commanded.
In Genesis 2:15, it says (again in the Amplified Bible): “So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.” Note that “cultivate” precedes “keep”. That means, again, taming nature and making it amenable for human use.
In other words: We are not to “retreat” to Eden (impossible anyway according to Genesis 3:24). Attempts to do so will cause no end of troubles. That’s not “fearmongering”, that’s a statement aligned with the commandment to “fear God” (e.g. 1 Peter 2:17). We were not even meant to remain in Eden before the Fall (at least, not exclusively), but to venture out into the world and govern and cultivate it. For what purpose? To be, as the image of God, the cultivators of nature – under God’s guidance and commandments – and stewards of the resulting Kingdom of God.
In other words, instead of retreating to Eden, which is conceptually at the heart of environmentalism, we are to progress towards the Kingdom of God. One of the central commandments of God which enables us to do exactly that is of course “thou shalt not steal”. This is a commandment we are progressively, institutionally breaking on a massive scale: The progressive abrogation of private property through taxes (way beyond the tithe), regulation and inflation.
Private property rights is the main instrument with which humans can exert their stewardship under God. The manifold stealing of theses rights is what lies at the heart of our environmental problems. But it is this root, this economic, institutional and not least spiritual root, that the institutions committing the infringements are loath to address, because they profit from continuing with their infringements. Most environmentalists appear to be totally oblivious of this root problem. Or, if they are aware of it, they are silent about it for reasons that may sometimes even be nefarious.
It is interesting to note that it is often the biologists who want to do the retreating and the economists who want to do the progressing. This was exemplified by the bet that the economist Julian Simons arranged with the enviromento-alarmist biologist Paul Ehrlich in 1980. Here’s an article about it. To quote from it:
To make his case, Simon published an article in Social Science Quarterly that taunted Paul Ehrlich, the main proponent of imminent doom, into taking a bet on their respective views. If population growth was outpacing the finite quantity of resources, the prices of key resources should (theoretically) be rising. If prices increased, then Ehrlich would be vindicated. If not, Simon would be. Ehrlich chose five resource prices and bet on their trends over a decade. Simon won the debate, as all five commodities (copper, chromium, nickel, tin and tungsten) declined in the wager period of 1980 to 1990.
(Ehrlich then offered a counter-bet which Simon rejected, for good reasons. Read about it in the above linked article.)
I think this disagreement between a biologist and an economist is almost archetypal. I think so because biologists argue from the point of view of nature, and economists from the point of view of humans.
Economists also are trained to think in terms of cost-benefit analyses, which may entail more than just monetary costs and benefits. Which is why the world should listen more to Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician who has emerged from the environmentalist movement saying that, while he believes human made climate change is happening, it is “not the end of the world“. He even explains how a rising temperature will actually save lives and that there are much more pressing problems we could and should solve and which we could do with much less effort and thus save – human – lives.
It’s no wonder most people are not aware of positions like Lomborg’s. They have been essentially frozen out of the debate. Which is one of the reasons I became instantly suspicious when I saw how the media handled the Covid pandemic and started pushing for “solutions” which served a nefarious agenda, while obviously ignoring a proper cost-benefit analysis of the promoted measures.
I had seen it all before, in relative “slow motion”, during the preceding decades of climate debate and policies. I continue to see it now.