Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pagan Power

Gaia by Anselm Feuerbach
Environmental activists, particularly promoters and partakers of climate hysteria, have often been referred to as members of a religious cult, although worshipping a deity such as Gaia isn't what they actually do. As far as I can see, behaviour varies greatly and at this stage it may be premature and inaccurate to describe these behaviours as religious. Even so, the movement, loose as it may be, has its gurus, prophets, believers, evangelists, educational materials, funding and political support. I'm not so sure about the gods or the priests.

So it seems to me that an over-enthusiastic adoption of what one might call environmental moral values, does suggest a kind of nascent paganism of the finger-pointing kind. The question non-pagans have to face at some time or another is what to do about it, assuming something can be done which may not be the case.

The notion that human emission of carbon dioxide causes the global temperature to rise catastrophically has not gone away even though it was always scientifically silly. It may have sunk to lower levels of political consciousness, but the important point is that it remains with us, culturally, politically and economically. Many millions of children have already been moulded, changed forever from what they might otherwise have been.

It may well be that climate change hysteria was always seen by hard-nosed policy-makers as a convenient if rather shaky peg on which to hang energy-security policies. It’s hard to tell if this is the case when faced with the habitual evasiveness and apparent stupidity of our political elite. The incurious ignorance of mainstream media doesn't help either.

The test as always is behaviour. For example, if shale gas is developed as the next big thing in energy policy, if new finds are exploited while the inevitable tide of hysterical propaganda is ignored, then we will at least have a partial answer.

Perhaps the new paganism has not yet become an official religion and our elites have no real desire to embrace it. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't want us to embrace it. We’ll see - or at least some of us will. Some won't understand what's going on, whatever happens.


rogerh said...

Those who make things happen, those who watch things happening and those who never realised anything happened at all.

Current policy is to ignore the 'problem' and if necessary build dykes and barriers. All of which is post the next 10 elections. Something for our children to do. Oh, and will those green taxes be invested? - fergeddit!

Right now green religion does not buy votes, but other religions do - and bring in the campaign funding. The long-term is 'what happens after lunch'.

Sam Vega said...

Lots of very important and thought-provoking points in your post.

I think the best attitude towards religiosity based upon ecological awareness is to watch it from a safe distance so as to preserve one's own mental balance. What they believe in is strange, but not very strange, considering that their grandparents probably believed stuff that is less plausible and more profound in its implications. These people felt a vacuum, and unwisely grasped at something in order to fill it.

In addition, there are lots of people for whom "ecology" has become the grounding principle of morality, without them adopting metaphysical views. Sustainability takes the place of the categorical imperative, or the utilitarian calculus. I remember back in the 1970s my philosophy professor trying to articulate something like this - a feeling that he was beginning to pick up from conferences and the literature. Looking back, he seems to have been remarkably prescient.

As for

"climate change hysteria was always seen by hard-nosed policy-makers as a convenient if rather shaky peg on which to hang energy-security policies."

this is spot on. Huhne will shortly be showing how shaky that particular peg is. Does he really believe what he says he believes, or is his role merely to ramp up public concern about how we are going to keep the lights on? Once the lights start going out, every other socio-economic problem will rise up to confront the government.

James Higham said...

although worshipping a deity such as Gaia isn't what they actually do.

Oh yes they do:

A K Haart said...

rogerh - agreed, dykes and barriers, block and hide. It's a huge irony that green taxes are more disinvestment than investment, more wasteful than what currently goes into landfill.

SV - Good points. "Sustainability takes the place of the categorical imperative, or the utilitarian calculus." It does and I can well believe that some did foresee it.

JH - My use of "worship" is purely in terms of observed behaviour. I admit the similarities though.