The Religion of Environmentalism

Provocative thoughts from Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton, in a recent New York Review of Books article:  

The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists—most of whom are not scientists—holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

This deserves more time than I can give it now, which is none, but I want to come back to it. Two quick thoughts: I wonder if this evolving “religion” might be a bridge between so-called liberals (useless word) and so-called conservatives (useless word), and I wonder to what extent the presidential candidates grasp this development.

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