"Environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths."
So said, respectively, renowned physicist Freeman Dyson, writing in 2008 in the New York Review of Books, and the late author Michael Crichton. (Dyson is one of the most highly-regarded physicists in the world.)
Global-warming environmentalism has indeed become a religion, complete with sin, expiation, ritual and cultic figures. It's deity is the earth itself, “Gaia,” the name of an ancient Greek earth goddess. The most important tenet of Gaiaism is that the earth is itself alive and is a being in its own right.
Gaiaism even has its own Garden of Eden - the earth before the appearance of human beings, when nature was pure, or after we showed up, but before we invented modern civilization. The Fall is the invention of the internal-combustion engine and the use of fossil fuels that followed, especially coal. More broadly, the Fall is consumerism and globalization.
But that Paradise Lost cannot be regained. There is no room for "life more abundant," since abundancy is environmentalism's original sin. Abundancy is expiated by human austerity or, as Dyson put it, "living frugally." Environmentalism's New Jerusalem is not prosperity, but the simple life arranged around a village-type lifestyle where everything is within walking distance of everything else. As British Leftist George Monbiot put it:
Everything we thought was good turns out also to be bad. ... We are killing people by the most innocent means: turning on the lights, taking a bath, driving to work, going on holiday. Climate change demands a reversal of our moral compass, for which we are plainly unpreparedThis compass change requires cultic leaders such as Al Gore to guide the masses and give enlightenment to them. Like the Law of Moses, their commandments are to be obeyed from faith rather than inquiry: ‘Lo, I say unto you recycle, drive less, eat organics, drive hybrids, and so forth and so on.’
Environmentalism embraces apocalypticism with true fervor. The entire religion is predicated on the imminent, substantial destruction of the biosphere. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in 2008 that "humanity faces oblivion if it fails to confront global warming." Oblivion, he said. Rising seas, expanding droughts, melting sea ice, increased desertification, scorched crops, mass human suffering and death - all inhabit the same enviro-religious space as Revelation's horsemen of the apocalypse.
Like Jewish and Christian apocalypticism, environmentalism embraces the "children of light" opposed by the "children of darkness." The children of darkness, those who rebelled against God, embodied evil. The children of light, those who apprehended the truth of God, were spiritually pure. This notion has been adopted wholesale by environmentalism. Dyson put it this way:
[R]uthless 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. ... Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment."The worldwide community of environmentalists" = children of light. "Enemy of the environment" = child of darkness. (Dyson does not himself promote this belief, but describes what he sees.)
Like traditional apocalypticism, environmentalism holds is that things must get worse before they get better. No matter what we do now, climate change will intensify for decades before being abated. If oblivion is to be avoided, control must be established now. More than mere religiosity is at work here. H.L. Mencken observed, "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it." That is the true dogma of environmentalism: its gurus want total power over the masses. Monbiot gave the game away: "We can deal with climate change only with the help of governments, restraining the exertions of our natural liberties."
Dyson wrote, "Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion." No wonder: environmentalism has much more potential to achieve a rigid regulation of people's lives than political socialism. After all, the fate of the entire planet is at stake! So environmentalism uses scientific language to mask its neo-Leninism, the desire to control most aspects of the way people live. From there, environmentalism has only a short step to Leninism's successor: Stalinism, the desire to control every aspect of the way we live. That's its plan for us, minus the gulags. We hope.