Today, as well as being Good Friday, is Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 after Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson called for a national teach-in highlighting environmental issues. Since then, the Earth Day celebration has grown and is now observed by governments, states, schools, and tens of millions of individuals across the globe. The most significant effect of Earth Day was the uniting of the various one-issue environmental groups under one banner with common goals and values and yet a broader ideology. “On April 22, 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement.”1
The modern environmental movement is problematic for many reasons. The foundational problem is that the movement’s ideology is an odd blend of humanism, mysticism, and anti-human self-flagellation – humanism, in that it makes man the ultimate authority instead of God; mysticism, in that man uses this authority to subordinate himself to and even worship Mother Earth (or Gaia); and anti-human self-flagellation, in that humans are often targeted as a threat to Gaia, in which case environmental righteousness is gained through self-abasement before Mother Earth.
But beyond this anti-Christian, quasi-religious aspect of the ideology, the cultural Marxists in the West saw environmentalism as yet another tool they could use to subvert and undermine Western Christian civilization. The cultural Marxists use environmentalism primarily as a method to control people. Whether it be stripping people of property rights, limiting what they can buy, or hamstringing American industry, the environmental movement is about transferring power away from the individual and local and to the government and global. Since individuals cannot be trusted to be green on their own, a host of regulations and an army of bureaucrats are needed to make sure the environment is cared for, whether you like it or not – and if you try to resist, then you’ll be receiving a visit from some very heavily-armed man. Further, since no individual nation can be trusted to be environmentally friendly on its own, numerous global treaties and new stronger global organizations under the purview of the United Nations are needed to ensure compliance to green initiatives.
In fact, the Czech President Vaclav Klaus went so far as to state that environmentalism is the new Communism.2
As someone who lived under Communism for most of my life I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is not Communism or its various softer variants. . . . Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism.
The so-called climate change and especially man-made climate change has become one of the most dangerous arguments aimed at distorting human efforts and public policies in the whole world.
Like the other planks of the cultural Marxist platform, the poster boys of environmentalism are notorious hypocrites. Like the big shot “anti-racists” who live in all-white gated communities while extolling diversity, or like billionaire socialists who live extravagant lifestyles while preaching wealth redistribution, prominent environmentalists are often less than green. For example, the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit featured 1,200 limos, 140 private planes, and caviar wedges; and Al Gore’s Tennessee mansion’s $30,000 energy bill and private jet are the stuff of legend.34 You see, sacrifices for the good of the environment are things which should be forced on you and me, not something to be endured by the enlightened of Gaia.
On the other hand, there is a view which could be termed anti-environmentalism. This view takes an almost casual delight in the destruction of nature. Some of this is a result of legitimate anger with the green Communism of the environmental movement, as a way to “get back” at them. However, the main drivers of this view are big business and corporations, who would be fine with strip mining Eden as long as it increased their bottomline. Unfortunately, this is the view which has, at least implicitly, been adopted by much of mainstream conservatism in their support for unfettered big business and their view that any criticism of the environmental impact of corporations is “anti-business.” While the environmentalist worships nature, big business worships the almighty dollar, and the most destructive way of doing business is often the cheapest as well. Why dispose of sewage and industrial byproducts safely and expensively when you can simply dump it in a river or lake? Why be concerned with the long-term harmful chemicals you’re pumping into the air or spraying on food when it is more efficient to do it that way? Why take safety precautions when drilling for and extracting oil or natural gas when that cuts into your profit margin? Why take the environment into account when you can simply push the consequences of environmental destruction onto someone else and keep the money flowing? The earth is a resource to be depleted; future generations be damned.
But like many modern debates, the battle of modern environmentalism vs. anti-environmentalism is a false dichotomy. Opposed to both these views is the Biblical view, one of anthropocentric stewardship. The basis for the Christian’s relationship with nature can be found in the beginning of Genesis. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28, ESV) “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground . . . The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:5, 15, ESV)
We can see a couple of principles from this. First, man’s view of the environment must be anthropocentric, or “man-centered.” Nature is not something to be worshiped, the earth is not to be left untouched, and man’s presence is not an evil. Man is to subdue and have dominion over nature. Second, this dominion is one of long-term stewardship, tending, working, and keeping; it is not one of outright and casual destruction. Adam was to tend a garden, not destroy it. Thus there is a balance: on the one hand, humanity is to fill and subdue the earth, and on the other, we must be good stewards of nature, which necessitates preservation and conservation. I am not against factories and towns, yet when we build them, we must do so with the mindset of being a good steward of nature – to not cause undue damage. Leaving as much of nature pristine as possible is one of the goals of modern environmentalism, and extracting and using nature’s resources in the most efficient way possible is one of the goals of anti-environmentalism. Christian anthropocentric stewardship should include elements of both; we should seek to preserve pristine areas for future generations to enjoy God’s creation, but we should also not be afraid to harvest and make use of the natural resources God has provided in that creation either. In the end, it is not so much that either modern environmentalism or anti-environmentalism is altogether wrong, but that they both have rejected God and have taken opposing halves of the dominion mandate to the extreme. We should neither worship mother earth nor strip mine Eden.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_day ↩
- http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=40698 ↩
- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/6736517/Copenhagen-climate-summit-1200-limos-140-private-planes-and-caviar-wedges.html ↩
- http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/GlobalWarming/story?id=2906888&page=1 ↩