Radical Environmentalism: To Be Green Doesn’t Require Tyranny (Part 1)

Dec 30, 2023 | Blog

As seen in The Epoch Times

“There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.” — Henry David Thoreau

Is it just me, or have you noticed how any discussions these days regarding the environment seem to get disconnected from empirical reality? I do have a significant background in biological sciences, but I see little rational discussion of green issues in the public square anymore.

To me, the first signs were evident when words began to be manipulated to imply more and more apocalyptic possibilities. For example, about 20 years ago the common parlance was to speak of “global warming.” Then, it became “climate change.” But this was not compelling enough, and so it became “climate emergency” or “climate crisis.” Of course, everyone wants a healthy civilization, but as a physician I would be more inclined to say that health care is in crisis.

I would submit that climate alarmism has become a form of catastrophism. It is happening to justify increasing state authoritarian environmentalism. Where I come from in British Columbia, the local MP speaks of “carbon pollution” as if this is the same as some increase in carbon dioxide levels into the atmosphere. Last I checked, life itself is made of carbon. Besides, carbon dioxide is necessary and beneficial for plants and crops to grow.

What is going on here? You can tell that something is an ideology—or even a new theology—when the terminology being used is extreme and lacking necessary scientific precision. After all, to be anti-carbon is to be anti-life or even anti-human. It turns out that tyranny is the enemy of nuance, and what we are experiencing is the onset of state and global authoritarianism in Green Garb. Yet, environmental responsibility must start at the level of the individual citizen, not from totalitarian ideology.

In this Part 1, I will show how many citizens’ concerns about the environment have been captured by this totalizing ideology. First, I will describe the general state of affairs of greens, especially in Canada. Then, I will help the citizen to orient oneself with respect to green issues in the public square—what I usually call our secular field. Finally, I will describe how many environmentalists have been captured by an ideology that contains elements of a new theology.

First, what is the general state of affairs for Canadians who care about the environment? The present federal government, in fact, has an environment minister who says he is a “proud socialist.” As a result, the Trudeau government is captured by ideologues who declare environmental “crisis” or “emergency” at every turn.

These are radical authoritarians who seek to scare Canadians into relinquishing their freedoms. The primary goal is to centralize power at the national and even international level well beyond historical precedent. Yet, such leftists will favour big-government solutions—not necessarily because it is better for the environment, but because it is better for leftists. After all, international socialism is all about government control of the means of productivity, instead of harnessing free markets to solve problems for our quality of life.

Not everything can be a social—or a socialist—construct. To claim that human beings are infinitely malleable is to deny the existence of human nature itself.

In fact, in coastal B.C. where I come from, the local constituency is experiencing this ideology front and centre. There has long been a strong green vote here—and there is nothing wrong with care for the environment—but all one sees in this culture is various leftist politicians trying to outdo each other for the most radical intervention to “save” the environment. The local MP of the Trudeau government virtue signals about more “carbon” emissions at the next international “climate” conference. Or the local socialist NDP candidate pushes for a “Leap Manifesto” deemed too radical even by the federal NDP leadership.

Tyranny is not about nuance to solve complex problems, let alone true conservation or stewardship.

Second, let me describe how we can use an ecological axis to understand why some greens have chosen this route of big government instead of citizen freedom to deal with environmental issues. It turns out that citizens must orient not only in terms of freedom, but also in terms of ecology. Otherwise, there is no escape from progressively dystopian culture (see figure).

Why Greens Do Not Fit Left-Right Politics

The trouble for true environmental conservatives is that radical government impositions offer no personal responsibility. Environmental concern—the ecological axis—is not even on a traditional left-right axis. In fact, it is wise to treat a person as a unique, sovereign individual and not lump a person simply into one identity group or another. As René Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Thus, each of us has our own consciousness that exists at the nexus of our faith and reason. This is how we can truly relate to this secular world.

This also helps explain what I call the “watermelon.” For example, in Canada “reds” are typically viewed as far leftists on the freedom axis, which harkens back to the communism of the Soviet Union or China. But “reds” now include “woke” authoritarians, such as red Liberals of the Trudeau government. This ideology pits one identity group against another. When greens mingle with reds you get watermelons. That is, some greens are green on the outside but red on the inside. Every environmental problem justifies a government solution. This also explains why the present culture makes red Liberals, the federal NDP, and authoritarian greens indistinguishable.

Finally, this leads to many Canadians being captured by an ideology with elements of a new theology. Watermelons do not have to believe in a God to attain this. Woke Marxism is a modern variant of classical Marxism, where historical communism has been Godless anyway. And greens can be agnostic. Consequently, one can see qualities of a new theology of watermelons due to the many articles of faith practiced by the red-green coalition—despite no resort to a God.

Let me give at least five examples of the red or “woke” articles of faith. First, all people and institutions are racist or bigoted—original sin. Second, people’s identities are forged exclusively by their membership in a group, particularly race or sex. Third, different identity groups can be ranked according to how “oppressed” they are, with the most beleaguered victims the most sacred. Fourth, capitalism is responsible for the world’s ills. And, fifth, sex as well as gender are exclusively social constructs, with no reference to biological or empirical reality.

Add to this, green articles of faith and you get a complete picture of this new theology. For example, time is measured in terms of end times. There is an environmental apocalypse. A “climate crisis” is imminent. Nothing to see. Nothing to test. Nothing to prove. Nothing to be disproven. This is like Orwellian “official truth” with a totalizing, unquestioning, anti-intellectual dogmatism. Watermelons do not even have to invoke a Goddess of Mother Nature to do this. All that is required is the utopian hubris of centralizing authority over people to an unaccountable level—even beyond the nation state.

It has become a totalizing groupthink. Never mind the principle of separation of religious organization from state organization. Never mind the creativity of the sovereign individual. It is as if we are witness to a lab leak of a “woke mind virus” that in this case escaped from academia and has captured our culture and state institutions. Watermelons have simply become the cultural clerics dressed in Green Garb in a totalizing ideology for the environment.

Beware of the “watermelons” in our polity. Each citizen must be able to think for themselves and apply their own free will and agency to make responsible choices, including for the environment. I would reason that most Canadians are not interested in living in a culture or politics of tyranny. The reality is that classical liberals, conservatives, and many greens do not need to resort to totalitarian ideology. True environmental conservatives realize that a free people can solve most problems without government intervention.

In Part 2, I will describe some free-market environmental prescriptions to act as an alternative to this totalitarianism.