Environmentalism & the Left

Some of you have chastised me for not taking global warming seriously enough–to the point of making a joke about it. Some of you have taken issue with some of my quite environmentalist ideas about wanting to protect species (on the grounds that God made them and so He must want them around) and decrying genetic engineering (on the grounds that it is “unnatural”). But looming behind scientific disagreements and tactical disputes is an ideology that, according to Charles Krauthammer, is the left’s new pretext for imposing statist power:

Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems — from ocean currents to cloud formation — that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. “The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity,” warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, “is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.” . . .

For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class — social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies — arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher’s England to Deng’s China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but — even better — in the name of Earth itself.

Environmentalists are Gaia’s priests, instructing us in her proper service and casting out those who refuse to genuflect. (See Newsweek above.) And having proclaimed the ultimate commandment — carbon chastity — they are preparing the supporting canonical legislation that will tell you how much you can travel, what kind of light you will read by, and at what temperature you may set your bedroom thermostat.

Only Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There’s no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

Krauthammer goes on to recommend tangible measures to help the environment, while avoiding this ideology. One of them is to promote the cleanest large-scale energy source of them all right now, namely, nuclear energy, something opposed by much of the environmentalist left.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Rush Limbaugh has for years called environmentalsim the new home of socialism.
    What better weapon to use on all us sheep, than a fear for life itself.
    Makes me wonder what stomach any of us have anymore for hardship or want. Before we’re suffering in any other way than just the prices of things, we’re lining up to give away our freedom.
    Environmentalism-The-Religion just makes all that cowardice, and us cowards, look so good and noble.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Rush Limbaugh has for years called environmentalsim the new home of socialism.
    What better weapon to use on all us sheep, than a fear for life itself.
    Makes me wonder what stomach any of us have anymore for hardship or want. Before we’re suffering in any other way than just the prices of things, we’re lining up to give away our freedom.
    Environmentalism-The-Religion just makes all that cowardice, and us cowards, look so good and noble.

  • Anne of Green Gables

    This week Czech president Vaclav Klaus gave a speech at the National Press Club which gave warning very similar to what Mr. Krauthammer is saying. Klaus has a new book called “Blue Planet in Green Shackles,” which would be interesting to read. Klaus sees the green movement in light of his experiences under a Communist regime most of his life, and says he is very sensitive to how fragile liberty is. I agree with you, Dr. Veith, that nuclear energy is the way to go.

  • Anne of Green Gables

    This week Czech president Vaclav Klaus gave a speech at the National Press Club which gave warning very similar to what Mr. Krauthammer is saying. Klaus has a new book called “Blue Planet in Green Shackles,” which would be interesting to read. Klaus sees the green movement in light of his experiences under a Communist regime most of his life, and says he is very sensitive to how fragile liberty is. I agree with you, Dr. Veith, that nuclear energy is the way to go.

  • WebMonk

    I got a kick out of a news story on the radio about a bill heading through Congress to place some major CO2 limitations. The reporter stated in all seriousness that the hundreds of billions of dollars that the emissions quotas would cost US companies is well worth it because some group estimated that global warming will cost US businesses $4 trillion over the next 100 years.

    LOL!

    As if the minuscule (comparatively) amount of CO2 reductions would be enough to affect anything, much less ‘stop’ GW.
    As if they had the foggiest clue of how much global warming would happen over the next century.
    As if they could measure the cost vs benefit any global warming would actually have.
    As if … (too many to list)

    That story and this article really do show the bizarre contortions and blinders that the hyper-environmental movement has. There is plenty at which to poke fun without inventing and assigning false statements to them.

  • WebMonk

    I got a kick out of a news story on the radio about a bill heading through Congress to place some major CO2 limitations. The reporter stated in all seriousness that the hundreds of billions of dollars that the emissions quotas would cost US companies is well worth it because some group estimated that global warming will cost US businesses $4 trillion over the next 100 years.

    LOL!

    As if the minuscule (comparatively) amount of CO2 reductions would be enough to affect anything, much less ‘stop’ GW.
    As if they had the foggiest clue of how much global warming would happen over the next century.
    As if they could measure the cost vs benefit any global warming would actually have.
    As if … (too many to list)

    That story and this article really do show the bizarre contortions and blinders that the hyper-environmental movement has. There is plenty at which to poke fun without inventing and assigning false statements to them.

  • Nathan

    Thanks Dr. Veith, for bring this to our attention. It seems this might go nicely hand in hand with this:

    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1162

    By the way, re: this quote:

    “For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class — social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies — arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).”

    …when are we going to see your review of “Liberal Fascism” by Jonah Goldberg? (just read it last week, and am starting your “Modern Fascism” again…)

  • Nathan

    Thanks Dr. Veith, for bring this to our attention. It seems this might go nicely hand in hand with this:

    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1162

    By the way, re: this quote:

    “For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class — social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies — arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).”

    …when are we going to see your review of “Liberal Fascism” by Jonah Goldberg? (just read it last week, and am starting your “Modern Fascism” again…)

  • Jenna

    After living through a Michigan winter that was longer, colder and snowier than we’ve experienced for years, and a spring during which nighttime temperatures were in the high 30′s as recently as last night, I can’t help wondering whether God is having the last laugh about the global warming hysteria.

    Kind of like the day in November 2007, I think it was, when Al Gore delivered one of his doom-and-gloom prognostications/rants in the middle of a New York City blizzard.

  • Jenna

    After living through a Michigan winter that was longer, colder and snowier than we’ve experienced for years, and a spring during which nighttime temperatures were in the high 30′s as recently as last night, I can’t help wondering whether God is having the last laugh about the global warming hysteria.

    Kind of like the day in November 2007, I think it was, when Al Gore delivered one of his doom-and-gloom prognostications/rants in the middle of a New York City blizzard.

  • Jenna

    In the interest of being accurate, let me amend the above.

    Our nighttime temps in Metro Detroit were in the high 30′s as recently as two nights ago. We were in the 60s last night.

  • Jenna

    In the interest of being accurate, let me amend the above.

    Our nighttime temps in Metro Detroit were in the high 30′s as recently as two nights ago. We were in the 60s last night.

  • http://www.watershotinc.com David Zierke

    I would not chastise anyone for dismissing the human impact on global warming. I seem to remember that one solar flare headed our direction and we are all toasted!
    Besides, Every sunday in the liturgy I confess my belief that God made everything and still sustains it. This is most certainly true!! When he says we are done as a planet or a species, then we are done. Until then we should be good stewards for future generations. Preserving both our environment and our freedoms to pass on to them. Submitting to fear of global warming and letting the elites take over would not be good stewardship of freedom.

    Confidence in God’s creative and sustaining love sets us free from excessive fear and worry about my impact on the environment as we live the life we have been blessed with.

    The Lord’s Prayer,,,, Give us this day our daily bread. Expresses confidence that he has already provided all we need to meet our needs including the worlds’ climate. He has already given us the ability to adapt to climate change or else he will be hidden in it to make us more dependent on him again.

  • http://www.watershotinc.com David Zierke

    I would not chastise anyone for dismissing the human impact on global warming. I seem to remember that one solar flare headed our direction and we are all toasted!
    Besides, Every sunday in the liturgy I confess my belief that God made everything and still sustains it. This is most certainly true!! When he says we are done as a planet or a species, then we are done. Until then we should be good stewards for future generations. Preserving both our environment and our freedoms to pass on to them. Submitting to fear of global warming and letting the elites take over would not be good stewardship of freedom.

    Confidence in God’s creative and sustaining love sets us free from excessive fear and worry about my impact on the environment as we live the life we have been blessed with.

    The Lord’s Prayer,,,, Give us this day our daily bread. Expresses confidence that he has already provided all we need to meet our needs including the worlds’ climate. He has already given us the ability to adapt to climate change or else he will be hidden in it to make us more dependent on him again.

  • Carl Vehse

    The American Physical Society’s Forum on Physics and Society has its editor noting:

    “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

    Included in their newsletter is a paper, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” (http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm)

    The times, if not the climate, are achanging.

  • Carl Vehse

    The American Physical Society’s Forum on Physics and Society has its editor noting:

    “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

    Included in their newsletter is a paper, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” (http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm)

    The times, if not the climate, are achanging.

  • Carl Vehse

    More on the APS’s recent announcement on global warming compared to its November 18, 2007, statement is at the Newsbuster’s site, American Physical Society Opens Debate on Global Warming, and at “Evidence doesn’t bare [sic] out alarmist claims of global warming”, with the data graphs.

  • Carl Vehse

    More on the APS’s recent announcement on global warming compared to its November 18, 2007, statement is at the Newsbuster’s site, American Physical Society Opens Debate on Global Warming, and at “Evidence doesn’t bare [sic] out alarmist claims of global warming”, with the data graphs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@8), you make it sound like the APS is casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming. But they have not made an “announcement on global warming” so much as opened up a debate between various people — there is no implied position from the APS.

    And the person who read some of those graphs at the Herald-Sun doesn’t seem well versed in trends. Graph 2 (labeled “Now there’s cooling”) highlights a very short downward trend of the past year or two, while ignoring the rather obvious upward trend over the entire graph. (Graph 1 appears to be merely a subset of Graph 2, though both measure different things, so I don’t know what its point is.)

    The same problem with observing longer trends can be seen with the labels on Graphs 3 and 4, “Seas are falling” and “Ice is spreading”. Are they really only looking at the past year and not the entire range of the graphs they present?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl (@8), you make it sound like the APS is casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming. But they have not made an “announcement on global warming” so much as opened up a debate between various people — there is no implied position from the APS.

    And the person who read some of those graphs at the Herald-Sun doesn’t seem well versed in trends. Graph 2 (labeled “Now there’s cooling”) highlights a very short downward trend of the past year or two, while ignoring the rather obvious upward trend over the entire graph. (Graph 1 appears to be merely a subset of Graph 2, though both measure different things, so I don’t know what its point is.)

    The same problem with observing longer trends can be seen with the labels on Graphs 3 and 4, “Seas are falling” and “Ice is spreading”. Are they really only looking at the past year and not the entire range of the graphs they present?

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD, to go from the APS’s November 18, 2007, statement that “human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate” to the APS’s spindoctoring, wishy-washy (“correctness or fallacy.. . very probably likely…) reference to the IPCC (and the APS Nov. 2007) conclusion is most definitely “casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming” although officially the APS has not recanted its 2007 position.

    The second graph shows recent cooling, as well as past warming and cooling. See Climate’s 27-year warming pattern not consistent with ‘global warming’ for more information.

    As for the other graphs, their organizational source has been identified; googling that organization with key words should get you more information to address your questions.

    And there also Christopher Monckton ‘s “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered”

  • Carl Vehse

    tODD, to go from the APS’s November 18, 2007, statement that “human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate” to the APS’s spindoctoring, wishy-washy (“correctness or fallacy.. . very probably likely…) reference to the IPCC (and the APS Nov. 2007) conclusion is most definitely “casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming” although officially the APS has not recanted its 2007 position.

    The second graph shows recent cooling, as well as past warming and cooling. See Climate’s 27-year warming pattern not consistent with ‘global warming’ for more information.

    As for the other graphs, their organizational source has been identified; googling that organization with key words should get you more information to address your questions.

    And there also Christopher Monckton ‘s “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered”


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