A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

'The Druid' and 'global warming'.....

Since the abject failure of Marxism, the collapse of the socialist model following the end of the Cold War, and the steep decline in the relevance of most Christian denominations, 'environmentalism' in the West has increasingly become a refuge for those who yearn to intervene in society for other people's good. Such ecochondriac neophytes want to 'command-and-control' every aspect of our lives. Their main weapons are rampant millenarianism - the world is forever ending - and an appeal to our deep feelings of guilt, both general and personal. Their 'New English Bible' is The Independent, the front page of which tends to resemble hell fire.

I am thus far from surprised to find that The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams, FBA, the Archbishop of Canterbury, aka 'The Druid', theologian, poet, and lecturer, has joined the ecofaithful [from The Guardian, March 28]:
"... the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams described climate change as 'a huge practical problem and a huge moral problem'.

Everyone should consider the needs of future generations when making decisions about their lifestyles, he said.

Dr Williams told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: 'In the first instance, the moral responsibility lies with absolutely everybody, not only in terms of examining our own lifestyle and asking what concretely can be done, but also in sending a message to governments that this is recognised as a priority by the public.'

Asked how God would judge politicians who failed to act on warnings of environmental disaster, Dr Williams said: 'I think if you look at the language of the Bible on this, you very often come across situations where people are judged for not responding to warnings.'

'There are choices we can make, each one of us, to change things now, and I think what the Bible and the Christian tradition suggests is that those who have a challenge before them and don't respond bear a very heavy responsibility before God.'"

The spotlight on guilt is central to 'environmentalism' as a religion, and, in Britain especially, it has absorbed, as if by osmosis, many aspects of traditional Protestantism and Puritanism: "We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep [BSE?]. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done ['You didn't recycle that plastic bottle, did you?']; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done ['You drove to the supermarket in your 4x4! Just think of the emissions.']; And there is no health in us [Not to mention all the toxic chemicals and GM food. 'Eat organic for purity', saith the Preacher]."

Yet, it goes much deeper. Since Noah was a lad, we have always wanted to blame the weather and environmental disasters, from fires to floods, on ourselves and on our "manifold sins and wickedness". Here is Johannes de Trokelowe on the dire climate and famines that heralded the start of The Little Ice Age in 1315: "We can see how the prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled in the English people: 'If I go forth into the fields, behold those slain with the sword, and if I enter into the city behold them that are consumed with famine.'" (Jeremiah 14.18). The 'Chronicle of Malmesbury' is equally gloomy: "Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them." (Isaiah 5.25).

'The Druid' is in a long line of Christian doomsayers. This time, however, we are 'warming' and it is human-emitted carbon dioxide that is the latest witchcraft.

But the Earth is a tough old boot, and it has survived asteroid, earthquake, fire, and flood since God was stirring the primordial soup. Moreover, on nearly every measure, people are living better,longer and more fulfilling lives, except, sadly, for some regions of the world where abject poverty is a genuine reason for our guilt: farm subsidies for so-called environmental benefits and 'organic' farming in Britain - now that is something to think about.

The Eeyores of this world, like the good Archbishop, are terrified that human genius and technology are, in the phrase of Martin Heidegger, 'enframing' Nature, removing its magic. They want to fill us with post-industrial angst and the nightmares of Edvard Munch's The Scream. But I think it is time we left the Eeyores to ruminate in their boggy places. Even if we closed down every factory, shut down every power station, crushed every car, and sacked four billion workers, climate would still change and there would still be super cyclones. Yet, in our poverty, we would be unable to do anything to help.

It is perhaps a sign of the weakness of modern Christianity that it has to turn to the pre-modern/modern pagan religion of 'global warming', and its call to sacrifice to the Earth, in an attempt to re-invigorate the faith.

[And a last thought: what dire hymns one is forced to sing these days. On Mothering Sunday last, I had to blast out one with lines like: "Who put the hump upon the camel? Who put the neck on the giraffe?" Mr. Darwin, one might suggest! I see this Scottish congregation has also been putting "the tail upon the monkey" - scroll down to the first hymn.]

Philip, fascinated by the religious language of the 'global warming' myth. Hell fire and damnation all round, with illuminated manuscripts (those Indie front pages!). Luncheon first, of course. "Grilled or fried?"

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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