Paul Rubin has written an article in WSJ regarding Environmentalism as a type of religion which I find quite interesting. The factors he lists as similarities are pretty dead on:
• There is a holy day—Earth Day.
• There are food taboos.
• There is no prayer, but there are self-sacrificing rituals that are not particularly useful.
• Belief systems are embraced with no logical basis.
• There are sacred structures.
• Skeptics are not merely people unconvinced by the evidence: They are treated as evil sinners.
One could also add:
• Prophet - Al Gore.
• Scripture - The IPCC reports.
However, environmentalism is far from being alone in the specter of issues and causes that people become fundamental about, and many political opinions tend to get stuck because people refuse to change their them - even when faced with overwhelming contradictory evidence. This is not confined to the "right", and possibly afflicts more people on the "left". Scientists routinely refutes diverging opinions with ad hominem argumentation, freezing out those who disagree, withholding resources etc. Economists (sorta one myself) believe their social science is a hard science with evidence based facts proved by complex mathematics. Attempting to critcize a parenting is something I can absolutely forget about since I don't have children myself. Even our hero Einstein refused to accept quantum theory.
What are your opinions on this subject? Can these opinions-turned-fundamentalism be compared to religion?
Locally grown food: Added a link a previous post with claims the exact opposite. There is no definate proof that locally grown food tastes better or is healthier.
Glass and paper recycling have been the subject of other posts, a number of which disproves your claim. Though for glass, reusing is an alternative which is undeniably very good.
Solar panels: Extracting, refining, and melting silisium are all very high impact activities. They are a good idea in sunny (desert) areas, but in Europe, which can be blanketed by clouds for a large part of the year, they are not a solution.
If I replace 400 watts of regular lightbulbs with 100w low energy bulbs (which contains heavy metals), I will just crank up whichever other heating device I have. 95% of the power drawn by regular bulbs are emitted as heat. In warm areas where the a/c blasts for much of the year, low energy bulbs are of course a very good solution.
Much of car emissions happens in the production of cars. Someone has found out that it takes 113 BTUs to produce a Prius. A Highlander takes 107 BTUs. A small clean diesel car has much higher MPGs than a Prius, and much lower energy requirements to produce.
If you truly want to support the environment, start with yourself. Get a job close to where you live or vice versa, so you can walk or ride a bike. You choose where you live and you choose where you work. Eat meat at most twice a week, livestock are a major source of pollution. Eat more legumes, they are good for you and have a low environmental impact. Eat 20% than the recommended daily intake, you will feel better and live longer. Buy a smaller car, how often do you really need 5 seats? Don't buy more clothes than you can wear.
My recommendations will lead to a reduction in consumption, which is really the major cause of environmental issues. Most of the bigger topics above are only fixes so we can continue overconsumption - but they are the ones which seem to engange people.
Paper recycling is questionable from the fuel for the trucks to pick the stuff up to the toxic bleaching agents used to remove the ink to the generally inferior paper produced. Most paper companies plant trees specifically to harvest for paper so it is a renewable resource that sequesters carbon at the same time. I think that qualifies as a win win. One could argue that burning paper could produce energy in a carbon neutral way similar to the burning of wood. Scrubbing the chemicals out of the paper would create the same problems as removing them in the recycle process so that is not a gain. Interesting aside .The Sierra Club was once called to task for printing their news letter on virgin paper and their response was that their donors were accustom to high end products.
Also interesting if the factionalization of environmentalists concerning the solar farms of the western deserts. Some are more concerned with the environmental impact on the desert eco system than the use of the abundant solar resource to supply clean energy. Who wins or loses on that deal?
It all boils back down to that very basic RRRs
Unfortunately, recycling seems to be the only capitalistically profitable portion, so it's nearly the only aspect that gets done. From the environmental standpoint, recycling should be the last resort, as trash should practically not exist.
I have been an environmentalist since college, for nearly 30 years and have never practised any of the items in your list. In fact Environmentalists in the Western Civilisation are generally highly educated, non-religious, and focused on scientific knowledge. Environmentalism is the only 'ism' in the public sphere which places scientific knowledge before dogma. Yes there are adherents to environmentalism who are woowoo, just as there are recent converts to godlessness who are woowoo, as in rejecting god while simultaneously retaining god's mantras.
Environmentalism is neither right-wing nor left-wing nor centrist. It is in its own unique fiscal sphere where the balance of the environment is valued equally to human centred valuations. Like in atheism, there is 'deep ' ecology and 'shallow' or 'pale green' ecology. Shallow ecologists are those least interested in disturbing our social status quo, whereas deep ecologists are willing to push around the powers that be in order to get a point through. The latter are best exemplified by Dave Foreman and Paul Watson whereas the pale greens are best exemplified by "Save the ecosystems, but only if they are of value to us, humanity. Someday we might want or need them" which is the more common form of environmentalism in the world today. In environmentalism, humanity is regarded as nothing but an element of an interdependent natural world highlighting a biocentric view of the world instead of an anthropocentric view.
I find one of the most important concepts that most people get wrong about environmentalists is that they are a special interest group. It's actually the opposite, they are a general interest group. Invidivuals do not benefit financially from the environmental movement, professional environmental activist earn very low to low salaries. Profits generated by 'populist' campaigns are used to fund more basic 'campaigns'. Generally, the level of corruption in environmental organisations is very low because individuals do not stand to gain financially, which makes environmentalism a pretty decent bastion of integrity and truthfulness in a world awash with false pretences and egomaniacs.
Earth Day causes me the same laughter as Darwin Day. I've known and understood evolution all my life, been atheist since birth, so I don't need to venerate the guy who first wrote about it, as the concept has so grown since then, and has come to encompass all of biology's understandings. The same goes with Earth Day, it's a ridiculous attempt at popular appeal which accomplishes very little in the end.
I don't think environmentalism is a religion, but I do think it is often shallow and hypocritical. That does not, however discard the whole concept.
The term 'scientific consensus' reminded me of a phrase someone sad that 'science is not done by consensus', it is supposed to be based on solid evidence. But I'm not going to argue about anthropogenic global worming, I haven't done a substantial research on that topic and I confess to being overly skeptical to any 'consensuses' in today's science. With a huge corporate impact on all spheres of our lives: from media, to medicine and climate research I think my scepticism is largely justified.
My main problem with environmentalism is it's perceived obsession solely with greenhouse gases and relative indifference to other problems. I mean, hello??, anyone noticed how polluted the air we breathe is, that the clean water already (!) became a commodity, which is unthinkable as it is vital for humans survival and supposedly should be easily accessed by everyone. The cancer rates are spiking which is most likely to be at least partially a consequence of how grave the level of pollution already is. And not the carbon pollution which everyone is so crazy about. I'm all for saving polar bears but isn't it a problem out children are suffering from cancer? What about those factories that don't emit the warming gases, but pollute our air and soil with cancer-causing agents?
So all these calls for 'saving the Earth', saving the planet sound a little hypocritical to me. Saving FOR WHOM? The sick generation that will spend most of their lives in clinics? Oh... I know - for polar bears.
I know that, one can find a small group deeply concerned with a particular issue, somewhere... But only the CO2 pollution seems to be making it to the news and gathering the international congresses. Why is that?
One would think it's because climate changes will be irreversible at some point. But will we be able to reverse all other kinds of pollution? Water, soil, etc.? And how many years or decades would that take? And how many will survive those years?
I'm just saying these questions should be of equal importance, then perhaps the whole carbon trading and carbon taxing will not seem as a scam.