I know it’s only the first day of the month—and April Fools’ Day (which was probably intended with goofy environmentalists in mind)—but despite stiff competition we can award a coveted Green Weenie Award already.
There’s stiff competition, though. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, has issued the pronouncement that ignoring climate change is a sin. Yes, come to think of it, I never hear anything about climate change any more. We really must start talking about it more, and not just Sunday in church.
In the Puffington Host article reporting on the bishop’s views, she is pictured in front of row upon row of . . . empty pews. I wonder if the fitting irony occurred to anyone else besides me?
But the good bishop is overmatched by novelist Jonathan Franzen (author of The Corrections), who has offered the following confession that environmentalism really is a religious faith at its core in The New Yorker this week:
Maybe it’s because I was raised as a Protestant and became an environmentalist, but I’ve long been struck by the spiritual kinship of environmentalism and New England Puritanism. Both belief systems are haunted by the feeling that simply to be human is to be guilty. In the case of environmentalism, the feeling is grounded in scientific fact. Whether it’s prehistoric North Americans hunting the mastodon to extinction, Maori wiping out the megafauna of New Zealand, or modern civilization deforesting the planet and emptying the oceans, human beings are universal killers of the natural world. And now climate change has given us an eschatology for reckoning with our guilt: coming soon, some hellishly overheated tomorrow, is Judgment Day. Unless we repent and mend our ways, we’ll all be sinners in the hands of an angry Earth.
Beyond this astounding statement, Franzen’s article is actually an incoherent mess, as he goes on to argue that perhaps we’re overdoing it with climate change at the expense of other, near-term environmental concerns—especially . . . birds. Uh-oh—better hope the presiding bishop doesn’t hear about this.
Turns out we won’t have to give Franzen our Green Weenie, because lots of environmentalists are mad at him for daring to question the priority of climate change uber alles:
Audubon’s CEO David Yarnold said Franzen’s essay “read like some angst-ridden, Woody Allen-esque lament”.
“The whole piece is a pretty confused piece of thinking. He seems to be saying that people aren’t capable of holding two ideas in their heads at once. That they’re not capable of preserving the places that birds need now, while mitigating the threat of climate change in the future. And there’s absolutely nothing in our experience at Audubon that would lead us to believe that’s true,” he said. . .
“It was so stupid,” said John Gummer, chairman of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change. . .
“I think he’s talking nonsense,” says former director of conservation at the RSPB Mark Avery.
Talk about corrections!