The PEI Climate Change Hub has published a magazine called Blowing in the Wind: Answers to Climate Change with a stated purpose to “educate and encourage people to take action on climate change.”
This is a laudable goal, and the newsletter does, indeed, contain many useful bits of information, pointers to websites, and practical steps we can all take to lower our personal climate change profile.
That said, the newsletter also brings to light a marketing issue that often afflicts “change” movements, and that is the implication that to achiece practical change requires cultural change.
Here’s an example: David Daughton has a poem called Missing Olympia published in the newsletter, to which he has attached an author’s note that says, in part:
Climate change causation has its roots in human attitudes and actions that are lacking in respect and love for natural balance. As we concede a gap between the personal and planetary states of being, much of the magic/science of the healing power of love and care for our surroundings lapses.
Now I have a lot of respect for David and the work he does. And I don’t want to deride the thought process that has led him to work in the climate change movement. But reading tracts like that makes me feel the same way I feel when I read hardcore evangelical religious rants telling me that Harry Potter is the devil.
I’m ready to turn down my thermostat, insulate my attic, ride my bike to work, and buy wind power. But if it seems like I have to embrace the “magic/science of the healing power of love and care for our surroundings,” to be able to do this, well all of a sudden we’re back in 1973 and you’re that guy on the steps of Carlisle United Church trying to convince me to come to Sunday School instead of riding my bike to the playground.
I don’t mean to suggest that Blowing in the Wind is full of this sort of “change as religion” material, because it’s not: the balance of the material is practical and commonsensical. I merely wish to communicate that to sell me on climate change, you simply have to tell me what to do, and make a case for why. If the power of love leads you to do that, fine; I just don’t need to know that.
You can win converts by preaching, but I suspect the long-term success rate of new religions is low. I suppose there is a growing secular and therefore tappable market share in the developed world, plus environmentalism does have echoes of the time-tested salvation and apocolypse angles, not to mention the evidently profound unrighteousness of the powers that be, which seems to attract the would-be know-it-better. Based on the zeal of the Earth First-ers, I’d say there’s definitely potential here for a religion. I just hope it fares better against unfettered capitalism than Marxism did. And without bringing us to the brink of mutual annihilation would be nice too.