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?

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I didn't start reading complex text and moving on to science magazines until i was 11-12, so these studies were published in the early nineties, after the CFC ban.

I think their models back then were inaccurate...


Remember too, that in the process of consensus building, it is not only the number of papers in agreement for the quality of the papers. Always follow the money behind a study. Scientific research is as prone to political corruption as any other area of investigation/thought. If you follow the money and find lots of money, then you know the study is in conflict of interest and automatically loses a degree of credibility. Multinationals work very very hard at hiding their money trail for good reasons, it allows them to dominate paradigm with their own discourse and rationalisations.

Take the example of Intelligent Design.

It's not really researched or even considered outside of the U.S., the average European have probably not even heard about it, but everyone on this board seem to think it is somehow important enough to discuss because it's a hot topic in one country. The fact that it is discussed here is more a part of the problem than the solution - idiocy can't be combatted with logic and reason, and should be ignored until it goes away.

It is not corruption per se, but it is an example of how something which is clearly wrong ends up on the agenda, taking focus and resources away from real knowledge development, only because some people in one (important) country talks about it and therefore give it creedence.

As for scientific consensus, the field of economics is built upon the assumption of people always making rational choices. Economists hate when this assumption is being tested because it's often found not to hold. Yet modern society is based upon these models.

I completely agree that atheists should stop discussing ID, it's so entirely ridiculous I can't even conceive how anyone can have the patience to discuss it. People who believe in it should be placed in mental asylums. Economics is a pseudoscience. Nothing is testable in any given lifetime, we are simply a huge ongoing experiment. With very clear winners and losers.

-no more shallow than recent atheists who suddenly become purveyors of "truth" against religious people... :P

-Environmentalism is NOT obsessed with greenhouse gases, that's populism and GOREism, you'd do well not to mix the two.

-We are dying of cancer MORE than before, for 2 reasons: because live longer, and we live in a fouler world than before, the same thought processes result in corporate greed being more important than human health is also causing species die off (talking about any one species in particular is pointless).


I will say this, Judaism has embraced environmentalism for years; in fact, land ethic and stewardship are the main tennants of the Torah...generally.  World Jewish leaders have recognized that mankind has a responsibility to protect our planet and have responded with concerted efforts at making environmentalism a central figure in Hebrew schools and congregations around the world.  There are organizations dedicated to this idea...including the Jewish Envrironmental Network, COEJL, The Jewish Federation, etc....


So, whether you see a world religions embrace of environmentalsim as an insidious plot to win over young minds with a popular issue, or as a real effort at preserving a culture, way of life and our up to you.  But, something is happening. 

Looks like a lot of "look how 'good' I am" and 'intellectual masturbation' as opposed to being actively engaged in improving the planet's ecosystemic health :(

Same as Earth Day in Canada, it has become as huge as a religious holiday (tho I hate to agree with Arcus on this point), but talking cutely about environmentalism does not MAKE ONE and environmentalist and does little to change the world.

I'm a 'deep green' and against Earth Day, it's stupid.

T A A: it's OK to agree even though you have been programmed to disagree with everything written in WSJ ;)

I wish the people who think they care about the environment would actually try to do something personally about it instead of demanding that corporations and governments do. If people stopped behaving like logically inconsistent idiots we would have much less of a problem.

The reason to push on corporations instead of individuals is this:

The science that is marketing far outweighs the average human's ability to counteract any message propagated by the consumerism machine. If marketing didn't work, there wouldn't be any. Marketing today is much more powerful than in the past, it is based in strong experimental science with demonstrable results, we could even dare to call it an applied science. So to expect people to simply "vote with their wallet" is quite useless. Voting with your wallet will at best achieve a couple of percentage points of improvement (for instance Canada's Tar Sands exploitation alone causes more green house gases than all Canadian drivers! so for a Canadian to drive less... is nearly pointless). Now shutting down the Tar Sands, that would make a significant different in green house gas emissions. So IF our objective is to reduce them, best to act where it will have the most impact. This is consistent with the remainder of my political stances: always act on that which will have the most effect vs insignificant effects. Otherwise, it's all just talk.

WSJ recently changed it's editorial policy, I used to disagree with 70% of it, only recently do I disagree with 90% of it. (raises nose, sniffs air... if it smells like fish, it probably is fish) ;P

Instead of looking at the problem from a top down perspective, why not look at it bottom up?

The tar sands are extracted due to consumers demand for oil products. *We* cannot solve the issue before *you* do your part - even if it seems miniscule, the combined impact is massive.

Push your local representative to vote for a $10/unit petroleum tax, not only will it alleviate many environmental issues, it will also remove many governments fiscal issues.

There's no such thing as "consumer demand for oil products". What there is is a pushing of outdated gas guzzling technologies in order to keep revenue flowing into the same old cronie's pockets. If you are blind to the fundamentals of the market, then our 'conversation' is nearly useless. Market laws work well for essentials: sustenance and shelter, beyond that the market's "supply" is all about synthetic demands created by ever expanding original ideas to transfer wealth/value from the masses to the few. Read Thorsten Veblen and the concepts of conspicuous consumption for a different 'take' on what actually drives all our economies, both in the West and in what people call socialist or communist countries. He demonstrates well why both models are in fact very similar in their essence... We already have very high taxes on petroleum in Canada. I just fuelled up at 1.26$/litre tonight.

We will have to agree to disagree on who carries the most blame for overconsumption in today's society - you percieve the producer to be at fault, I find that the individual consumer making the choices are to blame. Presumably we have different mindsets in the society vs individual debate, but that's quite a different discussion. 

Veblen's theory should not be overstated, and is generally only applied to markets with luxury (Veblen) goods. Few petroleum products can be said to carry that distinction, and the products that can are not luxury goods due to being petroleum products (i.e. lipstick).

And finally two remarks: Firstly, $1.26/l is hardly enough to cover the cost of the externalities of driving, probably triple that or more. Secondly, fuel is not the only petroleum products, and they are pervasive and almost all things around you include them.


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