Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Is Environmentalism a Religion?

Environmentalist critics regularly say that "environmentalism is a religion". See:

Environmentalism hasn't become a new religion. It's become a single-minded political project with followers who have a hard time telling the truth; and, in many cases, don't recognize the difference between truth, myth and outright lies. As such: it looks like a religion to outsiders. The lack of respect for truth grew out of environmentalism's propagandistic politics. To the extent that environmentalists engage with the public, they often do so with scare-mongering tactics. E.g. Stressing the dangers of nuclear power, GMOs, ..., and even fracking with made-up horror stories. Examples are Frankenfoods (GMOs), Genetic mutants (nuclear power), exploding water (fracking). The fracking example is particularly important because it shows that, in recent years, the leopard has not changed its spots. In practice, environmentalists prefer to lobby government directly behind the scenes. They realize the public won't support their ideas, so they concentrate on subverting democracy with direct political lobbying. Perhaps, when one has such a low opinion of the general public, one does tend to treat people as a mere target for propaganda?

Here's a good example of recent environmentalist fracking coverage: In late November 2014, The Guardian newspaper wrote a commentary on a scientific report about fracking collated by UK Chief Scientific Adviser: Sir Mark Walport. The report was broadly in favour of fracking, relegating the risks as negligible. The commentary title said: Fracking could carry unforeseen risks as thalidomide and asbestos did, says report. The Guardian commentary so misrepresented the report findings that Mark Walport wrote a letter of complaint to the Guardian. [Mark Walport's letter is published with the Guardian commentary as the last 4 paragraphs]:

The Guardian article that linked fracking with thalidomide and asbestos is a florid example of what my report argued most strongly against. It confuses arguments about science with value propositions. It selected one sentence from one evidence paper, quoted it in part, and in doing so misrepresented both the report and indeed the evidence paper itself.
This lying green campaign against fracking it typical of their propagandistic approach to campaigning. A second bad example of green propaganda is their claim that the Californian drought is caused by fracking. Only 0.0006% of CA freshwater is used for fracking. See: What environmentalists get wrong when they use the California drought to attack fracking

Many environmentalists have a very partial attitude towards evidence. They approve of the facts when in agreement with them, but disapprove of facts which contradict them. As such, environmentalist arguments are often hypothetical or otherwise removed from scientific facts. Greens have often stressed:

  • hypothetical risks
  • modeled risks (often with biased parameters, or bad models)
  • the "precautionary principle"
  • outright lies and scare-mongering
  • anecdotal evidence over the real world

This disdain for factual evidence by greens is, I think, partly due to their left politics and belief in the old detective story meme: follow the money. When they disagree with the facts the first line of green attack is often to question the ethics of the researchers, and to claim the research is illegitimate because it was backed by the wrong kind of funds. Add rampant ad hominem to the above list of typical green fallacies.

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