A number of well-known authors and columnists have drawn attention to the religious character of the environmental movement. These writers include Australians on both sides of the political spectrum – like Hugh Mackay in his Sydney Morning Herald column or Blanche d’Alpuget in her novel White Eyes.


The zeal and dogmatism of the eco-doomsayers is a form of religious fundamentalism. It’s a strongly held belief system that brooks no compromise. The true believers are impervious to any rational evidence that might suggest the possibility of another point of view. If the advocates are young, inadequately educated or non-achievers, they acquire the status of becoming instant experts on environmental issues.


 In an earlier reflection on these matters I said that the purveyors of the Green religion seem to have taken over Augustine’s morbid dogma of ‘original sin.’  Saint Augustine (353 – 430 AD) taught that all disruptions seen in the natural order, including suffering and death, were the result of some mysterious and monstrous primeval guilt transmitted to all of us through the sexual act of procreation. This was a belief system that made mankind ultimately responsible for every cosmic disaster. It made people feel guilty about their sexuality and even for being alive. It took the Western world more than a thousand years before it could begin to climb up out of this crippling culture of guilt and the enslaving structures that fed off it.


Who needs Augustine’s religious dogma to make us feel guilty about the state of the world when we have the new religion of environmentalism and the church of Greenpeace (or the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and other organizations of environmental fundamentalism) doing the same thing. They tell us that we humans are guilty on account of the acid rain myth, the disappearing forests myth, the hole in the ozone layer myth,  the dwindling resource myth and the mother of all myths, global warming.


 Once we could enjoy complaining about the weather without feeling guilty about it.  Not any more! Global warming (said to be our fault) is supposed to cause cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves and bush fires – although the statistical data does not support the claim about the climate becoming more unstable than it used to be. We are also supposed to feel guilty that the polar ice caps are melting or that the sea levels are rising dangerously – all of which are total myths.


Who hasn’t heard that even our green tree frogs are also disappearing due to some human activity yet to be identified? Or that the coral in the Great Barrier Reef is declining because of what we are doing to it? I could cite the latest scientific reports to debunk these claims, but it won’t make any difference to those who want a mission more than they want the facts.


Achievers are supposed to feel guilty about being achievers, especially if that achievement is associated with any affluence. Who hasn’t heard how Americans, comprising only 6% of the world’s population, consume more than 50% of the world’s resources?  Suppose Americans, feeling guilty about all this, stop buying so many goods and services, then the ones who will suffer the most will be the poor in places like India whose daily bread depends on selling their hand-made rugs to the prosperous Americans.


What also needs to be said is that America is also the world’s greatest wealth creator, producing more resources, including intellectual property, than any other nation on earth. Unless wealthy nations spend some of their surplus wealth in buying good and services from abroad, the poorer nations would starve. “We don’t want aid but we want trade” said the President of Uganda recently. This African leader understands that trade is the only effective way to re-distribute wealth.  He wants his people to have the opportunity to trade their way out of poverty. Environmental pessimism won’t do anything for them except to consign them to grinding poverty forever, not to mention bringing prosperous nations down to their level.


What do all these enviro-pessimists want to achieve by pressing all these environmental guilt buttons? We need to get one thing straight. The only reason  people press other people’s guilt buttons is to control them. Whoever or whatever has the power to make you feel guilty will have the power to take control of your life.


The socialists nearly succeeded in taking over the world by seizing the high moral ground for themselves while making others feel guilty about trade, business and  greedy capitalism.”  They convinced millions of people that socialism’s central planning and mass coercion would produce a better economic outcome than the supposed economic chaos of the free world. With 20 million employed in agriculture, the Soviet Union could not even produce enough food to feed itself, whereas a mere 2 million employed in U.S. agriculture produced enough surplus food to glut world markets. Socialism collapsed because, in killing off human freedom, it killed off human resourcefulness and all the economic benefits that flow from it.


Now the enviro-pessimists are putting themselves on the side of the angels by advocating that the only way to save the planet from an impending eco-disaster is to wind back the economy, abandon our free enterprise way of life, accept lower living standards, forego opportunities to create wealth and submit ourselves to their never ending regulations.. As if human beings are so bad that they must be incarcerated by regulatory systems that controls almost every aspect of human lives!


 The loss of human freedom in mass central planning proved to be disastrous for the economy. It will prove just as disastrous for the environment.  What these enviro-pessimists have in mind for us is a system and a way of life that is far worse and far more dangerous than communism.