National Catholic Register


Go Green? No, Thanks. I Have A Religion

BY Jimmy Akin

| Posted 9/25/10 at 3:36 PM


Recently over on Facebook (where you can friend me if you like), I posted an item which stated:

Jimmy Akin would like the world to know that he has heard exhortations to “Go Green”/“Be Green”/“Save the Planet” so often that using any of these phrases drastically decreases the chance he will agree to the proposal in question—whatever it is.

I figured that this would generate a good bit of reaction, and it did. In less than a day there were over 100 responses. That was even more reaction than the item I posted about the spider in Madagascar that makes webs 82 feet across or the woman who fended off a bear by hitting it with a zucchini!

A big part of the reason the item got the reaction it did is that a lot of people feel the same way.

Here are some of the responses people posted:

Jimmy, it is so nice to know that I am not the only one.

Yeah. It’s like Chinese Water Torture. It has its merit, but do you have to beat us to death with it?

One trade association I belong to sends me a green e-mail every week like clockwork. It tells me that my clients want me to be green, and are more likely to do business with me if I’m green. I keep telling them that I’m not paying for that much body paint, but they keep sending me the e-mails anyway.

“Go green” and “reduce, reuse, recycle” is stuffed down kids’ throats every chance there is. It makes my kids groan and roll their eyes. How about “go chaste”??? A more-needed message for sure. Did you ever notice no one ever says, “oh kids will never recycle, so we might as well help them waste . . . “

Why did the “Go Green” message leave such a bitter taste on these people’s mouths?

Well, as one saying has it, there are “A Million Ways to Go Green!” And all of them are inconvenient.

Environmentalists have been so successful in pushing the “Go Green” sloganeering through our culture that we are now all continuously bombarded by environmental scolding that is vastly out of proportion what environmental problems exist, so far as the average person can tell.

As a result, environmental activists have acquired the reputation of annoying nattering nannies, of rigid killjoys out to spoil everybody else’s fun. Rather like the reputation Fundamentalists have. And in fact, many have noted that environmental activists treat environmentalism like a religion.

And it’s not the, “I’m comfortable with what I believe, and I’ll tell you why I believe it and also listen to you and we can have a mutually respectful dialog”-type of religion, like you get from the Vatican. Instead, it’s the “Convert or die!”-type of religion—in some cases literally, for certain environmentalist activists put spikes in trees with the deliberate intent of causing physical injury to loggers.

It should be pointed out in all fairness that most environmental activists don’t go to that extreme, but the movement is rapidly acquiring a reputation for being as heavy handed and disrespectful of others’ views as anyone disdained as a “Fundamentalist.”

In fact, now that the term “Fundamentalism” has mutated way beyond its original meaning (a group of theologically conservative Protestants associated with a set of 19th century books known as “The Fundamentals”), now that we have not only “Christian fundamentalists” and “Muslim fundamentalists” and “Hindu fundamentalists,” it might as well be time that we start referring to “environmental fundamentalists” as well.

This actually could be a help for those with legitimate environmental concerns.

I mean, it’s not as if one should be unconcerned with the environment. God gave mankind the mandate to serve as stewards of the natural world, and that concern is legitimate.

That’s why—in my Facebook item—I didn’t say that urging me to “Go Green” would stop me from adopting whatever proposal is under discussion. I have no desire to adopt a rigid contradict-environmentalists-no-matter-what-they-say position. That would be irrational—just like adopting an adhere-to-everything-environmentalists-claim position.

What is needed in this area, as in every area of life, is the ability to think critically, to “Test everything and hold fast to what is good,” in the words of St. Paul (though, of course, he was speaking in a different context).

Unfortunately, experience has shown that many of the claims made by environmentalists are bunk, and many of the recommendations made by them are equally bunk. They will little or nothing to help supposed environmental problems—and they may even hurt.

The reflexive, unthinking exhortations to “Go Green” and “Save the Planet” and thus serve as a kind of marker for unreliable, unproved, and usually unhelpful proposals.

That is why hearing any of these things makes it less likely I’ll agree to the proposal. The appearance of these slogans is a good indicator of the presence of ideology rather than reason, and ideology is a poor guide compared to reason.

Having a way to refer, collectively, to those who have become environmental ideologues—“environmental fundamentalists,” for example—thus could play a useful role in distinguishing legitimate environmental concerns from unthinking ideology.

Naming the problem is part of solving it.