Environmentalism as a new religion?

close up photograph of person praying in front lined candles
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

I drafted this post a couple of weeks ago and have been sitting on whether to post it or not, but I decided to go for it… let’s raise the debate, what’s the worst that could happen?

Basically, I was watching The Big Questions (a beeb Sunday morning debate programme) and one of the questions posed was “is environmentalism the new religion?”. Triggered by the ongoing protest by thousands of school children the debate was interesting and nuanced and got me thinking very much about environmentalism (or at least environmental consideration) as a way of life.

I am not an expert in religious matters but worship of mother earth is a feature of many (primarily past) religions. Various pagan religions include elements of polytheism, related to the planet and natural processes. And I could certainly write pages and pages about this, the different concepts and ideologies are fascinating and I definitely think some of them are on to something… if I was religiously inclined it’s fair to say I would most definitely be among the heathens.

Perhaps we should all be embracing environmentalism not as something extreme, perpetuated by hippies, but as simply a way of life. One of the school children on the programme made a very valid point, I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially – we are all on this earth and that makes environmental issues everyone’s problem.

Simple fact is, we are all riding this rock around the sun, and short of inventing warp drive or growing tatties on mars in your own poo, it’s the only planet we have. Therefore we all need to take a little responsibility over our individual actions. I’m not suggesting that everyone should become a die-hard, hemp wearing, vegan… but we can all do our little bit to help.

Diet is one of the hot topics of the moment, and whilst vegan is undoubtedly good for your carbon footprint, it might not actually overall be the best thing for sustainability or indeed health-wise.  Not to mention the loss of culture and conservation associated with the rearing of animals for meat and dairy. And sometimes swapping one thing for another merely shifts the problem elsewhere.

What we need is informed and educational news and information on how exactly we as individuals, ought to go about living in a way that ensures a sustainable future for the planet, and big business and policy makers need to buy-in too. Is this an enormous challenge? Certainly. Is it too great? Absolutely not!

I have talked about this before and it is undoubtedly one of the failings of the more extreme of the environmental campaigners, is the constant message of doom and gloom a turn off? We can do all the meaningful science and models until we are blue in the face, but if we can’t communicate them effectively are we actually achieving anything?

Perhaps we all need to make trade-offs, compromises of sorts, like fancy a steak? Crack on but make sure it’s responsibly sourced and eat veggie for a few days. Need to take a flight? Carbon offset. Short on time and have to eat that pre-packed ready meal? Reuse or rinse and recycle the packet. Fact is, if we all did a little bit, all of those individual actions add up to big changes.

person holding save our planet sign
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

There’s also a great deal of debate around whether the students should have been allowed to protest in school time. Not only did one of the kids on the programme make a brilliant point – that if they had done it at the weekend, nobody would have really taken notice – but the right to exercise peaceful protest is in itself a valuable learning experience.

Education is more than the classroom and to see young people engaged in such debate is quite frankly awesome. Not only are they exercising their right to peaceful protest, they are learning about the real world, politics and society. And I for one think that’s great!



2 thoughts on “Environmentalism as a new religion?

  1. Yes! Environmentalism is definitely a religion, just like consumerism is. Any time that one can manipulate the masses to unquestionably follow a particular dogma without consideration it is religion. It can also be defined as the profit of paranoia. It has worked for various church faiths around the world since history has been recorded. It has worked for various dictators, kings and queens. A few contemporary names are Adolph Hitler, Ralph Nader, Al Gore, Donald Trump and the media in all forms. Whenever you can scare the hell out of folks, you can achieve power and wealth whether your claims are truthful or not. It is still working for the Catholic church which has millions embracing medieval dogmas without question. How many millions have died at the imposition of Christian peace and love? Keep them frightened, you can steer them wherever you want.

    We humans, which I believe are the only non-indigenous organism on the planet, can be easily persuaded away from thinking for ourselves and from looking at the whole picture, and all the available evidence. There are cosmic trends over which we have absolutely no control. Through our gross and mindless ways we are enhancing global climatic cycles. We may well not survive our dire arrogance and foolishness but the planet will, just as any host, develop an effective defensive response to an infection. It will survive and thrive much better without us. We have the intellect and the means to fit in, but our self-destructive ways seem firmly embedded in our collective psyche. Let’s be honest, saving the planet is really about saving ourselves. And remember that even a million years, is just a blink within the planet’s history. We must put things in perspective.

    We should never confuse education with schooling nor should we misunderstand religion with spirituality.
    Education and religion are for those who do not want to think for themselves. Schooling and spirituality involve individuals who refuse to conform without first examining issues from all facets and forming their owned fully informed theories and opinions. One of the first clues of wrongness within any dogma or any religion is a claim of absolute truth. When you hear that claim, run like hell!

    Fred Bailey

    Liked by 2 people

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