When I was in grade school, I remember hearing Rush Limbaugh on his radio show refer to environmentalists as “watermelons”—green on the outside and red on the inside. In other words, they were Communists posing as defenders of nature. I have never accepted Limbaugh’s characterization of environmentalism, but the recent global warming fad makes me question some of my fellow conservationists.
Like any movement, folks support a “green agenda” for many reasons. Most self-identifying environmentalists, undoubtedly, concern themselves with environmental organizations because they recognize something of value and they wish to conserve it. To Leftist associates who wonder why I have been a member of several environmental organizations since my teenage years, I respond that conservationism is conservative. A fundamental conservative principle is that fine things—or the preferred conditions in the world—do not happen by chance and must be maintained with care and much effort. Civilization is a fragile luxury, and we must treat it so. I believe that the natural world is much hardier. The incredibly beautiful and diverse lifeforms on this planet have evolved largely irrespective of us. However, with technological advances and the burgeoning of human population, we now can easily destroy biosystems throughout the world. The fragility of the humane world has crept outside the city of man. Therefore, we responsible men must now attend to the environment as well as to our own people.
The most urgent environmental issue involves habitat loss. Even with species protection laws and breeding programs, we cannot ensure the viability of our biodiversity without protected natural habitats. As such, I am completely in favor of international efforts to make more land and water protected areas. We need to establish what scientists call conservation corridors for migrations, and we need more preserves, more parklands, and more joint efforts between conservationists and communities, especially rural ones, that allow for the mutually beneficial use of the land for agriculture, resource development, and conservation. In the West, we have seen incredible improvements in the environment over the last century, even given the increase in population and development sprawl. It is in developing nations that so much is threatened. To speak bluntly, Western medicine has contributed to a human and ecological disaster. Malthus might be out of favor, but he had some important insights. For a given set of conditions, there can be too many people.
American conservatives, usually religious ones, find such an admittance repugnant to their principles. One notices quotations of the nun Teresa at prolife rallies that state phrases like, “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” The idiocy of this statement baffles me. Just because one opposes murder does not mean that one should support destructive population policies. Yet, men tend to lose their minds when it comes to assessing their parochial interests.
The environmental movement has its own beam in the eye—the current global warming unconscious parody of Chicken Little’s fable. I find the climate change hysteria deeply disturbing for several reasons. First, it is troubling to witness the apocalyptic and messianic tendencies of mankind. Secularists usually find such behavior repulsive in religious folks, but it is ironic that so many of them have fallen for the primordial madness themselves. If we naturally sense that the world is doomed and that we need a savior, well, we are correct, but one has already been provided. His name is not Albert Gore, Jr. If you need salvation, at least think cosmically. How ridiculous it is to witness secularists vomit piety on the cheap. Get a real religion! Furthermore, you would think that rational people would detect the signs of an agenda driven by madness rather than factual analysis. When impious secular Europeans start sounding like the audience members of wacky rapture-obsessed Protestants, salivating over the prospect of the Four Horsemen, it is time to put down the Kool-Aid.
Second, I find the contemporary debate about global warming quite dangerous to the scientific community. Whenever scientists forego their voluntary servitude to the facts, they compromise their integrity and the status of their disciplines in the society at large. Scientific endeavors, like the striving of all philosophy, should aim at truth, and natural philosophers, like all philosophers, should be mindful of their own ignorance and of their own limitations. When Nobel Prize winners in chemistry begin pontificating on international relations involving war, they have traversed the boundaries of their expertise. Should they make remarks, they should emphasize that they speak as ordinary citizens and not as scientists. Our society sees researchers as our priestly cast, and researchers must act accordingly with responsibility. Yet, when ideological concerns muddy the waters, as in the current climate change debate, the “scientific community” endangers its own reputation and fosters a mistrust of science by the community on which it depends for its survival.
The faithful out there may object and say that the partisanly involved scientists just wish to speak the truth. Were that so, then the debate would continue within the scientific community. It would follow the same procedures of all scientific endeavors, involving many, many tests, peer reviews, and all sorts of cross-examining research. It would not be waged in the media and in political circles, where researchers are welcomed as emissaries of the Most High. I fear that the scientists who have prostituted themselves out for the worshiping masses have incurred modern philosophers’ unflattering charges against priestcraft.
Moreover, even if we have established a warming trend over the last three decades, that does not determine anything else. We do know that throughout prehistoric and recorded history, the earth has had a continuously fluctuating climate. No one knows for sure all the factors that contribute to this movement. We also know that we have been studying temperature change globally in a scientific manner for a very short time. We just do not have the relevant information to make the sweeping judgments made in support of the global warming hysteria. Beyond the issue of the current direction of climate change, it is a quite another issue to trace causation to man. The entire globe is not a Petri dish, at least not for human beings. We cannot observe replicated experiments under controlled conditions. The certainty of knowledge regarding man-made climate change professed by those men who have pimped out their scientific credentials to Leftist johns is not available to man—any man.
Third, as an environmentalist myself, I find the recent fad to be unprincipled opportunism. As a conservationist, I fully support developments toward better energy efficiency, more recycling and less waste, and general improvements in air and water quality. Many of the recommendations to “reduce one’s carbon footprint” are sensible ways to live modestly. Yet, I am fully opposed to false fear-mongering in order to advance positive social changes. As Log Cabin Republicans might object to “Pride Parades” and members of the N.A.A.C.P. might object to lynching hoaxes, I find the environmental movement’s casting its lot with the climate change truthers frightening. After harping on the loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, and large scale extinctions for so long to little avail, it seems as if some environmentalists lost heart in trying to get folks’ attention. Why not just jump on a bandwagon, tell people that their cities will flood, cry that poor brown people all over the world will starve to death (in contrast to all the poor brown people who currently starve to death), and finally get them to push for decisive measures to protect the environment? However, if we ever find that man-made global warming has all been wrong and maliciously touted in shameless propaganda, good environmental efforts will suffer. To bring up another useful fable, haven’t these people ever read about the boy who cried “Wolf”?
So, as a member of a religion, as a supporter of scientific endeavors, and as an environmentalist, I find the global warming movement revolting. It mocks all three domains in a perverse charade. However, why is it being done? I have explained why environmentalists have taken that opportunistic train, but why is the Left so caught up in the madness? Is it, as certain writers have maintained, the current faddish secular outlet for religious devotion and meaning? Alternatively, is Limbaugh correct in seeing the environmental movement as a cover for Leftist control of the economy and of our personal lives? Are watermelon people really behind “going green”? I have no idea. I just know that it is nauseating to listen to the true believers. I find it vile when such a magnificent creature as man reduces himself so.