Odds & Ends: March 2004 Archives

You know what they say...


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You been here FOUR HOUR!
You scare my wife!
You eat my profit!



The secular religion of environmentalism has found a new harbinger of death: the decline of British butterfly populations. Aaaack! Ratify the Kyoto treaty! Recycle your toilet paper! Drive your SUVs off a cliff (after filing the proper environmental impact statement with local, state, and federal authorities)!

Nature emits at least 95% of the carbon dioxide that's released into the atmosphere. Humans release less than 5%. But it's that 5% that is going to destroy the butterflies and the rest of the planet. Never mind that major volcanoes have put more debris and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than man ever has, and in short, violent spurts.

Strangely, although many environmentalists buy into the Gaia hypothesis, which says that the Earth is a single organism with many parts (including humans), they think a small rise in one kind of gas spells disaster for the planet. Is the Earth really that fragile? It's survived five major rounds of extinction before. You'd think that plant life would increase a little bit to exploit this increased resource. It isn't like CO2 is a new gas, invented by evil scientists.

Another good question is: so what? Environmentalists would respond that mass extinction would throw off the "equilibrium" of the planet. Again, so what? The planet would eventually find a new stasis after a while. According to paleontologists, something like 99% of all species are already extinct; what does a few more matter? Organisms come, and organisms go, and the planet seems relatively indifferent to their fate.

I referred to environmentalism as a "secular religion." I didn't mean that clean air and water are religious concepts, but rather that the ideological "story" of environmentalism is rooted in quasi-religious, quasi-Christian beliefs. There is the innocent Garden of Eden (when man was a hunter and gatherer), the Fall (agriculture, or perhaps industrialization -- theologians disagree on this point), the Redemption (Earth Day, 1970), and the Apocalypse (global warming).

Once you've decided that man's actions are dangerous and that we somehow stand outside of nature instead of at its pinnacle, it's just a question of gathering evidence of man's destructiveness. You do that through generating studies with the foreordained conclusion that man is going to destroy the Earth. Faith seeking understanding, as it were.

If the Earth is created by God and given to man, then it's a moral failure to abuse it. But if there's no God, then what does it matter if a few species disappear? Or a lot of species? Unless butterflies are God's creatures and thus beautiful and worthy of respect in their own right, it's hard to feel sorry for them.

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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unless you state otherwise.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Odds & Ends category from March 2004.

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