Monday 9 September 2013

A Green Thought

In a sparkling Dabbler Diary, Brit remarks how strange it is that, just when life was promising to get easier and easier ad infinitum, we started to make it that little bit harder for ourselves - all in the name of 'being green' (elaborate separating out of household waste, slow-lighting bulbs etc). I suspect these minor inconveniences we inflict on ourselves - like so much else about the 'green' movement - are 'spilt religion'. These gestures are the equivalent of penances that we impose on ourselves to make up for having things so easy. Human nature is basically religious, whichever way you cut it, and these little 'penances' are consolatory formal rituals of a secular religion, providing similar rewards but at a considerably lower cost and (unlike religion) a feelgood smugness with no downside. This is surely one of the reasons the 'green' movement is so strong and so deeply embedded in (ostensibly) post-religious societies; it fills a gap. Its essentially religious nature would also explain the extent of delusional insanity involved in such gestures as the British Parliament voting for binding legislation to cut 'carbon emissions' by a wholly unachievable 80 percent.  You can't be too virtuous, can you? (or too smug?)...
  Meanwhile, if you want energy-saving bulbs, switch to halogen - they give good strong light at the flick of a switch, just like an old-fashioned light bulb.


  1. Domestic appliances as flagellation, now there's a thought Nige, Bosch hair shirts, eighteen hail Mary dishwashers, four our lords microwave, the possibilities are endless.

  2. No one cut the last tree down on Easter island, they just got smaller and smaller, the same thing will happen to light bulbs. All the best, see you in hell,or not. Sam :)

  3. I'm not sure it gets us very far to liken it to a religion, which today has become rhetorical shorthand for "You're a dangerous loony!". Granted there are religious-like obsequies (Earth Day), but I think it's more to do with scientific hubris, and in particular the belief that science can use the present to predict the future. Also the corollory that we can navigate this vale of tears through all kinds of Doomsday threats by rational central planning, top-down management and keeping people from doing what they want to do. Science can be pretty good with certain natural phenomenon (eclipes), but it's record at predictng anything involving humans is quite pathetic. The classic example is Malthus. The world we live in today (record population, more food and less hunger than ever) not only shows old Thomas got his sums wrong, it's an impossibility according to his theory, yet there are still plenty of of neo-Malthusians among us chanting his Holy Writ and warning of population pressures, tipping points and mass starvation because of resource pressures. Remember Erlich, the Club of Rome, Peak Oil, Sustainable Development, etc.? Maybe you don't, but they sure do.

    1. Will natural resources never run out?

  4. Ah yes I remember them all Peter - and they keep on coming...

  5. I'm sure you're right, Nige. Low-cost self-rewarding do-gooding has now find its ultimate expression however in slacktivism: the business of supporting a 'campaign' by signing an online petition, liking it on Facebook or re-tweeting it.

  6. Oh Lord yes - slacktivism. What a world we're living in...