Happy Earth Day! In all seriousness though, environmentalism has moved far beyond reasonable scientific arguments and has become something of a religion. In order to maintain an energized base of activists, the movement now seeks radical changes to the way we live our lives, but unfortunately, environment-worship is no longer as far out on the fringe as the druids pictured above. As the Washington Post reports, today will be marked with festivals and gatherings, complete with corporate sponsorships.
The [original] organizers wanted it to be one-time event, but it has become an annual, global celebration. The first one cost about $122,000 to put on; today, the Earth Day Network, which oversees Earth Day worldwide, boasts an $8.5 million budget and a long roster of corporate sponsors, including Underwriters Laboratories, Siemens, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, AT&T Mobile and Procter & Gamble.As the Post observes, the environmentalist movement was initially a response to the very real problem of uncontrolled pollution which led to urban smog, acid rain, and poisoned rivers. Nobody can deny that by placing strict limits on pollution we have made the world better for ourselves. Compare old photos of the dingy and blackened skies of a 19th century cityscape to the clear blue skies of today and the difference is remarkable.
However, the environmental movement has moved beyond logical arguments for the protection of nature to a post-modern rejection of all human activity whatsoever. Once venerable groups such as the Sierra Club now advocate for reduction of the human population. The Earth Day Network provides a helpful list of personal sacrifices you can make to help the planet: "turn off unneeded lights," "drive less," "avoid using air conditioners," and so on, finally leading up to the ultimate summation of the eco-nihilist worldview, "be a minimalist."
Nature should be admired, enjoyed, and protected, and there are many real problems that demand action. However, the environmental movement has become counterproductive by embracing a quasi-religious and pseudo-scientific belief system. As we have seen with the climate email scandal, adherents of this belief system have gravely injured the credibility of science as a whole so that even sound arguments will now face tougher scrutiny and fiercer opposition. In short, the environmentalist culture of self-sacrifice has also become one of self-destruction.